Local News

CP&L, Residents At Odds Over Storage of Used Fuel Rods

Posted May 12, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Public health is up for debate in Chapel Hill. Three Nuclear Regulatory Committee judges spent six hours Thursday at a hearing to decide whether to hold another hearing.

At odds areCP&L's plans to store additional nuclear waste at its Wake County plant and the people who do not want it.

Thursday's argument centered on whether or not the public should get an opportunity to weigh in on the issue in person and have a chance to be heard.

Residents do not have many ways to comment on plans that would bring moreused nuclear fuel rodsto the Triangle's backyard, CP&L's Shearon Harris plant in Wake County.

"The NRC is not addressing some of the things that I am concerned about," said community activist Carrie Bolton.

So a dozen or so people took time from their day to ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to open up its process.

"This whole process is rigged in favor of the industry," said Jim Warren, N.C. WARN Director.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission judges conducted a hearing on whether or not to hold another hearing.

Orange Countysays even though Shearon Harris is 20 miles away in Wake County, it has a right to be included.

"If there's an accident at this plant, the plume or cloud of radioactive gas isn't going to stop at the county line," said attorney Diane Curran.

CP&L insists Orange County does not have a reason to be in this fight.

"We feel strongly that the NRC ultimately will agree that our plan is a very, very safe one and that it does not pose any off-site implication, much less again for Orange County or anyone outside the plant boundary," said CP&L spokesman Mike Hughes.

But people with questions about the CP&L plan say even if the NRC does not allow a public hearing in Orange County, there had better be one somewhere, and soon.

"I think what happens next is the public getting involved. We have a lot more to say on this. And so, the NRC process is one thing, but the public opinion arena is another," explained Curran.

Attorneys are expected to complete their arguments Thursday. The judges should issue a decision on a public hearing within a month or two.