Last Thursday the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission held its first public hearing on Duke Power’s proposed nuclear plants in Gaffney, S.C., roughly midway between Charlotte, N.C., and Spartanburg, S.C. Two nuclear plants are proposed for the site, which will cost at least $18 billion.

To attract Duke, county officials agreed to a package of financial incentives for the energy company. Duke says that the nuclear plants will bring an economic boost to the region.

However, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League points out that the public health costs of the nuclear plants far outweigh any short-term economic gains. They and other citizen groups are opposing the nuclear power plants for a number of reasons:

Duke’s nukes would consume four times as much water as all public and industrial users in the county combined.

Harmful radioactive pollution would be released into the air and water on a routine basis.

Highly toxic radioactive waste would be stored on site in pools of water.

Radioactive waste would also be shipped along major interstates in the region.

Locals are also concerned about earthquake risks. South Carolina averages 15 to 20 earthquakes annually. One of the largest known earthquakes in eastern North America occurred near Charleston.

More info: www.bredl.org