The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday December 2nd

N.C. WARN Protests in Raleigh

RALEIGH - Persistence has been the name of the game for the N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, but their time seems to be running out.

N.C. WARN held a rally Monday in front of U.S. Sen. John Edwards' office in the Fayetteville Street Mall, calling on Edwards to use his influence to arrange a Senate field hearing on Carolina Power & Light Co.'s expansion plan.

"It's a simple request," said Jim Warren, director of N.C. WARN. "We need a complete process that has democratic hearings as part of the process.

"If our voices are strong, maybe we can coax (Edwards) to come home and take care of business," Warren said.

It doesn't seem likely that Edwards will come to the rescue of N.C. WARN or other protesters, however.

"It would be inappropriate for me to intervene in the pending legal proceedings or the Inspector General's investigation, neither of which should be subject to political intervention," Edwards wrote in a June 22 letter.

Orange County recently filed an appeal in the D.C. circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, declaring that a federal agency's review failed the public.

In May, the National Regulatory Commission rejected the county's appeal challenging their decision to allow CP&L to expand the Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant.

The NRC authorized CP&L to open two additional storage pools, which could make Shearon Harris the largest single depository of spent fuel rods in the country. One of the two waste pools will be opened within weeks unless Edwards or the U.S. Court of Appeals blocks it.

"We plan to activate the pool on or around July 2," said Keith Poston, spokesman for CP&L. "There's no legal reason we can't move forward at this point. The NRC and ASLB (Atomic Safety and Licensing Board) cleared the way for us to move forward in May."

About 50 protesters attended Monday's rally, including the Raging Grannies, a group of women who sing for various social causes. To the tune of "On Top of Old Smoky," the Grannies sang, "Senator Edwards, we beg and we plead/ Put citizen safety before corporate need."

At one point, Brad Thompson, a representative for Edwards, came outside and addressed the protesters. "We appreciate you guys coming out and voicing your concerns," he said. "The senator continues to listen and be responsive."

This did not seem to satisfy protesters. "Why can't we have a public hearing on a public issue?" shouted one protester. But Thompson continued to support Edwards. "He's written letters and he's met with those who have expressed concern," he said. "He's effectively presented the concerns to the NRC."

But N.C. WARN officials say they will continue to fight whether Edwards helps or not. "Regardless of what Sen. Edwards does, we're not done," Warren said.

"We're on a mission."

Matt Viser can be reached at


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