Update: Decision expected this week on trucking Uranium through WNC
An update to a News 13 investigation. Environmentalists will go to court on Wednesday, January 18, trying to stop the U.S. government from shipping highly radioactive liquid uranium through Western North Carolina.
The Department of Energy wants to truck the material from Canada to the Savannah River Site, a storage facility in Aiken, South Carolina. 150 ships are planned. The approved routes would bring those trucks either through Charlotte or the mountains of Asheville.
Seven environmental groups sued the Department of Energy last fall. They say the DOE never did an Environmental Impact Study (IES) on the potential dangers.
"If you are exposed to it at a short distance with no radiation shielding, it can actually kill you in a short period of time." said plaintiff Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear. "In a fiery crash or a terrorist attack, this material could be dispersed over a very broad region."
North Carolina's Department of Public Safety said it's aware of the security risks. But that information is sensitive and cannot be made public. The highway patrol says it has members trained for the appropriate response.
The Savannah River Site says the DOE and regulators only allow licensed, certified and tested containers to make sure "the material will not be released from the container."
The DOE wants to begin the shipments in February. The lawsuit will be heard Wednesday, January 18th in Washington.