The size of three proposed nuclear-waste sites in Virginia was incorrectly expressed in acres in a Metro section article yesterday. The sites are measured in square miles.
Gov. Gerald L. Baliles called on the federal government today to abandon its search for a high-level radioactive waste dump in Virginia, charging that all three of the government's tentative sites do not meet federal standards.
"What we're suggesting is that they have not done their homework," Baliles told a news conference. He said two of the sites are near earthquake zones and the third is in an area subject to severe flooding.
The governor's announcement came just hours before a hearing in Bedford County, one of the three locations described by the Department of Energy as "potentially eligible" for the storage facility.
In January, the Energy Department disclosed that it was examining locations in seven states, including Virginia, for the nation's second dump for high-level radioactive wastes. The first such facility will be in the West and probably open in 1998. The second will be chosen in 1998 and open in 2006.
Roger Gale, director of the department's Office of Nuclear Policy and Outreach in Washington, said the agency could not comment on Baliles' statement because it had not seen the findings on which the governor based his opposition.
Opposition to the facility in the eastern half of the country has been intense in Maine and Minnesota. Prior to today's announcement by Baliles, Virginia had been "relatively quiet" in its opposition, an Energy Department official said.
Baliles said further consideration of the Virginia sites "should be stopped" because of the task force's findings. If the federal government persists, Baliles said the state would consider other actions, including litigation.
Asked whether the state's opposition might be viewed as a "not-in-my-back-yard" stance, Baliles said: "It would be very difficiult to object if the sites met the criteria . . . . I would see no reason to be concerned if they did."
The 209-acre site in Bedford County, near Roanoke, the subject of tonight's hearing, should not be considered, Baliles said, because it is subject to "the most severe flooding on the East Coast."
A second primary site, 307 acres in Halifax and Pittsylvania counties near the North Carolina border, "lies within two miles of a major geologic fault -- a fault that the Department of Energy failed to show on its own maps," the governor said.
The third Virginia site, 64 acres in Goochland, Hanover and Louisa counties north of Richmond, is on a list of eight secondary sites. Baliles said it is "bordered by two geologic megafaults in one of Virginia's most prolific earthquake zones."
Separately, Baliles announced today that he has reappointed S. John Davis as state superintendent of public instruction and has formed a commission to determine how to put Virginia's school system in the country's top 10.
The decision to retain Davis, a former Fairfax County school superintendent, who was named to the state post by former governor John N. Dalton, leaves only a few major appointments to be filled by Baliles, who took office in January.
Davis, 57, took over as chief of the state's public schools in 1979. He is paid $77,903 a year.