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S. Carolina orders police to stop plutonium

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) -- South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges declared an emergency Friday and ordered police to block federal plutonium shipments from entering the state.

Fact sheet: Tug-of-war over plutonium 
S.C. vs. U.S.:
  • January 16, 1997: Department of Energy plan to send plutonium to Savannah River Site approved.
  • April 22, 2002: Gov. Jim Hodges stages drill near the Savannah River Site. State troopers stop a tractor-trailer near border and turn it around.
  • April 25: Hodges holds rally at Capitol to protest the shipments.
  • May 1: Hodges sues the Energy Department, asking a federal court to block plutonium shipments until the impact can be studied.
  • May 8: Energy Department asks Hodges to kill ads against the plutonium shipments.
  • May 10: Shipments postponed by a federal court until after June 15.
  • June 13: Federal court denies Hodges' request to block the shipments from the Rocky Flats facility in Colorado.
  • June 14: Hodges declares state of emergency, sends troopers to block roads near the site.

  • The federal Energy Department is scheduled to ship the plutonium from the Rocky Flats weapons plant in Colorado -- which is being closed -- to South Carolina's Savannah River nuclear weapons complex, where it would be used as fuel for a nuclear power plant.

    "As governor, when I believe danger exists to our state, I am empowered to declare an emergency and to take measures to maintain peace and safety in South Carolina," Hodges said.

    "For these reasons, I have today issued an executive order that an emergency exists in South Carolina. I order that the transportation of plutonium on South Carolina roads and highways be prohibited."

    A federal judge has refused the state's request to block the plutonium shipments. Hodges has appealed the ruling and asked for a delay until an appeals court can hear the case.

    The shipments legally could begin as early as this weekend, but U.S. Attorney Strom Thurmond Jr. said Energy Department officials told him they would not start until after June 22, the Associated Press reported.

    Hodges refused to say how he would block the shipments.

    Sid Gaulden, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said traffic would still flow along the state's roads. He acknowledged the department does not have enough resources to close every entry point to the state, the AP reported.




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