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Low-Level Waste Project in Jeopardy

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

The Southeast Compact Commission gave the state until December 1st tofigure out how to fund the rest of this project. The Commission hassuggested that North Carolina borrow money from companies which willgenerate radioactive waste. But the state rejected that idea. As itstands 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 MaryMacDowell, "and their concerns about safety have been entirely obliteratedby concerns about money."

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

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

Compact member Bob Heater says it could be the end of the project, but hebelieves 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'sresponsibility to develop the project. They have the responsibility tofund the project as well."

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

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