Gov. Jim Hodges is again ready to hit the pavement to stop
plutonium shipments to Savannah River Site.
The governor met Tuesday with public safety and
transportation officials to discuss options for blocking
shipments of the radioactive metal, said Mr. Hodges'
spokesman, Jay Reiff.
The meeting came one day after U.S. Energy Secretary
Spencer Abraham ordered the shipments to begin in no less than
Mr. Hodges has said he won't allow plutonium to enter his
state until he has a legally binding agreement with the U.S.
Department of Energy detailing how and when the agency would
treat and remove the radioactive metal from SRS.
The governor has said he would personally lie in front of
the trucks if necessary.
"This is really about whether South Carolina is going to
allow the federal government to run roughshod over it," Mr.
"The governor is going to use every tool at his disposal to
keep plutonium out of South Carolina until there is a legally
binding agreement to keep the Department of Energy at its
word," Mr. Reiff said.
An Energy Department official expressed surprise that the
governor would take such a hard line.
"It's astonishing that on the first day Gov. Hodges would
hold a meeting trying to build a better roadblock rather than
working with us and members of Congress on legislation to
buttress the agreement we have presented to him," said Joe
Davis, an agency spokesman in Washington.
Tuesday's meeting included Mr. Hodges, state Public Safety
Director Boykin Rose, state traffic czar Harry Stubblefield
and representatives from the state's Highway Patrol and
transport police, said Cortney Owings, a spokeswoman for the
Mr. Abraham and the governor have fought for months over
the planned shipments to SRS from the Energy Department's
Rocky Flats site in Colorado.
The department needs to begin shipments soon to meet Rocky
Flats' scheduled closure date in 2006, Mr. Abraham said. The
two sides reached an agreement in principle last week only to
begin fighting again over how to implement the deal.
The Energy Department wants Congress to make the agreement
law. Some members of South Carolina's congressional
delegation, including Republican Rep. Lindsey Graham and
Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond, have pledged to craft such
"I think we can get the job done, and I am prepared to
personally commit to fully engage in the effort," Mr. Abraham
wrote Monday to Mr. Hodges.
The governor is willing to support a legislative remedy,
Mr. Reiff said, but Mr. Hodges would prefer that the two sides
enter a binding "consent decree" in federal court.
South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon, a political
rival of Mr. Hodges, criticized the governor's stance Tuesday.
"He's pursuing this confrontational strategy when it's
obvious that the Energy secretary wants to reach a legally
binding and legally enforceable agreement."
Reach Brandon Haddock at (706) 823-3409 or email@example.com