The U.S. Energy Department said Thursday that it is going ahead with a controversial plan to unload nuclear waste from Europe for storage in South Carolina.
The department had delayed unloading for two days while the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals considered South Carolina’s petition to block the shipment.
But the Energy Department told the court that for safety and scheduling reasons it could no longer wait for the ruling and will begin unloading the spent fuel rods from two ships at the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point, N.C.
Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary said that “this shipment is an important step in our nation’s efforts to stem the proliferation of nuclear weapons materials worldwide.” The 153 nuclear fuel rods contain highly enriched uranium.
The nuclear material from Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands will travel by rail to the Savannah River Site on South Carolina’s border with Georgia.
South Carolina fears it will get up to 15,000 more rods from foreign reactors in the next 15 years.