South Carolina loses appeal to keep plutonium shipments out

| 8/8/2002

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday denied South Carolina's request to keep trucks hauling weapons-grade plutonium out of the state. Gov. Jim Hodges vowed to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In his appeal, Gov. Hodges argued the U.S. Energy Department needed to do more environmental studies before shipping six tons of plutonium from Colorado to the Savannah River Site near Aiken. The governor also claimed the agency failed to fully consider the risks of long-term storage of plutonium.

The shipments had been delayed since last fall because of an ongoing dispute between Hodges and the DOE. The governor sued the department and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to halt shipments of the plutonium, fearing the radioactive material would not be disposed of once arriving in Aiken.

Hodges had also threatened to lie down in the road to block the shipments, but was ordered by a federal judge in June not to impede traffic. The shipments reportedly have already started.