Precautions in SC
Photo taken at Camden Airport March 7, 2002
"A Sign Of Our Times"
Since September 11th, South Carolina has taken many precautions. This includes protecting nuclear power plants, fallout shelters, airports, and the Charleston Harbor, just to mention a few. South Carolina has spent a lot of money protecting itself and will continue to budget more money for these new necessities. Now with the threat of terrorism in SC we are even watching who rents small planes. We also are guarding water treatment plants more closely.
Several lives in South Carolina could be in danger. If an aircraft were to crash into a nuclear power plant, it could kill about 29,000 people in a 500-mile radius. The nuclear waste is stored in 18-ton canisters, 25 feet underground, and in 5-foot thick steel-reinforced concrete. Nuclear waste has been piling up at Oconee Nuclear Plant, located in northwest South Carolina, since the mid 1970ís. The waste is not expected to leave Oconee until 2010 when a federal repository at Yuca Mountain in Nevada is expected to open. Many years ago SC agreed to convert weapons-grade plutonium into nuclear waste at the Savannah River Site in Aiken. We asked the government one thing, to find another place to get rid of it. Plutonium is exceptionally dangerous. A small amount could kill you. When the government dumps weapon-grade plutonium in SC it turns our state into a gigantic bulls-eye for terrorists. Governor Jim Hodges said in his State of the State address on January 16, 2002, "As a nuclear explosive, a few pounds of weapons- grade plutonium, fashioned into a bomb, could decimate several square miles of our state and make a whole county uninhabitable for years." "Reactor containment domes are not designed to sustain a large aircraft, and control rooms are vulnerable," said Dave Lockbaum of the nuclear watchdog group Union of Concerned Scientists. "The plants are designed to withstand an aircraft impact," said Ken Clark, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), "Now aircraft are bigger than they used to be, and I donít think anyone could guarantee that it would not cause some sort of problem." On 9-11, the NRC ordered all 104 nuclear reactors across the country to go into the highest alert possible. There are three other plants in SC, and they are H.B. Robinson in Hartsville, Catawaba in Clover, and Virgil C. Summer in Parr. All of our nuclear power plants in SC are at their highest level of alert.
(Not an exact location of nuclear power plants but close.)
Americans are building fallout shelters in unseen numbers since the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Many fallout shelters from the 1960ís in South Carolina households are still intact today. South Carolina residents may have to mortgage their homes to pay to get one built. Nuclear engineer Sharon Packer says sales have quadrupled to more than four a month at her company, Shelter Systems.
Airlines have been losing even more money after 9-11. Tens of thousands of airline employees have been laid off including pilots. Some of the flight schools that are still open wonder what kinds of regulations will come and how much they will cost. Bob Sunday, North American flight school president, said, "The need for pilots is like the stock market. You have your ups and downs." Airport security has tightened up a great deal. There are new guidelines, which means longer lines and waits for passengers. These new regulations went into effect on January 18, 2002. Bush wants to try and expand the National Guardsí role at airports. His plan was designed to bring customers back to the skies. It would take months if a bill is signed to see significant changes. In September, Bush told governors to call National Guard troops to 420 commercial airports. Most of them are at checkpoints where carry-on baggage is screened. Others just patrol the airports.
Some changes are:
About 2,200 ships carrying anything from cars to animals pass in and out of Charleston Harbor every year. This is why South Carolina is protecting it. This harbor is the fourth busiest in the country. Since 9-11, the US Coast Guard that patrols Charleston Harbor has increased its workload. They patrol it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ships have to send a list of all people on board to the US Coast Guard 96 hours before they arrive.
We have been forever changed because of September 11, 2001. We will always think about it in the back of our minds. SC has changed forever, and we have tightened up security all around. We have taken a good deal of precautions like protecting nuclear power plants, airlines, airports, and harbors. We will have new and different rules for everything now.