Local News

Low-Level Waste Project in Jeopardy

Posted November 25, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— There may be an end in sight for a four-year, $125 million dollar North Carolina headache. The state wants more money to study a low level radioactive waste dump site near the Wake-Chatham County line. With a funding deadline a week away, it's unlikely the request will be granted.

The Southeast Compact Commission gave the state until December 1st to figure out how to fund the rest of this project. The Commission has suggested that North Carolina borrow money from companies which will generate radioactive waste. But the state rejected that idea. As it stands tonight, the project is in jeopardy.

The Low Level Radioactive Waste Authority has heard it again and again. The land is full of fractured rock which means radioactive waste dumped here by local nuclear plants could contaminate area water supplies.

"It's been lip service," says Chatham County representative Mary MacDowell, "and their concerns about safety have been entirely obliterated by concerns about money."

The Compact is asking the state to come up with $7 million dollars and a long-term funding plan.

The state says it can't borrow that kind of money without a guarantee that the dump will be built here and make money. North Carolina has already invested $40 million dollars in the project.

Compact member Bob Heater says it could be the end of the project, but he believes the state can't let the project end.

The authority is hoping the Compact will continue funding the project, but the Compact says no way.

"From our point of view," says Kathryn Haynes, "it's North Carolina's responsibility to develop the project. They have the responsibility to fund the project as well."

The Authority did vote to use money from its reserves to keep the project going through December. But if a funding agreement hasn't been reached by January 1st, the dump could be scrapped. It will be up to the North Carolina legislature to either allocate the money or end the project.