The U.S. Department of Energy called Tuesday for Gov. Jim Hodges
to pull a television advertisement critical of the agency's plan to
ship plutonium from Colorado to South Carolina.
A DOE official said making national security a political issue
goes against U.S. tradition.
Democrat Hodges began running the advertisement over the
"It is irresponsible for Governor Hodges to use the plutonium
disposition program in political television advertisements for his
re-election campaign," Energy Department spokesman Joe Davis said in
a statement. "We hope that other responsible leaders in South
Carolina would disassociate themselves with this unprecedented move
by the governor."
Kevin Geddings, a political adviser to Hodges' re-election
campaign, designed the $200,000 advertising effort for airing on
Geddings said Hodges asked him to develop the ad, which is being
paid for through campaign funds.
Hodges' office said the governor would not stop the
advertisements unless the DOE meets his demands on plutonium storage
The governor wants legally binding assurances from the federal
government that it won't leave the toxic, bomb-making material in
South Carolina forever. Plutonium shipments from Rocky Flats, Colo.,
to the Savannah River Site are scheduled to begin this month.
DOE officials say storing and processing plutonium at SRS is
vital to national security. International arms agreements with
Russia call for turning 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium
into fuel for nuclear power plants, thus rendering the material
useless for atomic weapons.
Hodges' said last week that it doesn't matter if the plutonium is
in Colorado or South Carolina because plants to process the material
into fuel won't be built for years.
"This is not a national security issue," Hodges' spokeswoman
Cortney Owings said.
"The DOE needs to keep its word: Sign a legally enforceable
agreement that protects South Carolina from becoming the nation's
plutonium dumping ground and the governor will stop running the
ads," Owings said.
The ad starts with images of the U.S. Department of Energy
headquarters in Washington, then shows Hodges with South Carolina
law enforcement officers and pictures of a blockade drill near the
border. Hodges has threatened to block plutonium shipments with
"Governor Hodges is fighting to keep plutonium out of South
Carolina, even if it means a blockade," the advertisement says.
"Stand with Gov. Hodges: Call the Department of Energy and tell them
you support our governor. Tell Washington no plutonium dumping in
Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., even got into the action Tuesday and
asked Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to delay the shipments for at
least a month.
Thurmond has introduced legislation along with Rep. Lindsey
Graham, R-S.C., to end the dispute between Hodges and DOE.
Thurmond said a delay would allow time for Congress to consider
the new legislation, which would require DOE to establish a schedule
for the construction and operation of a site to convert the
plutonium into reactor fuel.
The Associated Press contributed to this