The Region

The federal Energy Department's controversial plan to transport 474 spent nuclear fuel rods from Taiwan to South Carolina over the next two years is running behind schedule because of opposition from West Coast ports, officials say. Officials at Long Beach, Los Angeles and Seattle-Tacoma have refused to let the nuclear waste move through their ports. The Inland Waters Coalition in Washington state has filed suit in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to block the shipments until the Energy Department prepares an environmental impact report dealing with numerous safety issues that have been raised by opponents. The Energy Department had hoped to have the first shipment at its Savannah River nuclear processing plant in South Carolina by the end of March, spokesman Jim Garver said. However, it would take about two weeks for the material to be shipped to the West Coast and another week to be trucked across country.

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