Pierce County residents against project

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal

RUGBY, N.D. (AP) — Pierce County residents who fear a proposed federal project might be a step toward nuclear waste disposal in the area are circulating a petition aimed at showing their concern.

The University of North Dakota's Energy and Environmental Research Center is part of an $80 million federal Energy Department project to determine if deep crystalline rock is suitable for nuclear waste disposal. UND researchers say the project wouldn't involve actual nuclear waste, and that test holes planned near Rugby eventually would be plugged.

The Pierce County Commission last week placed a moratorium on deep bore hole drilling in the county and scheduled a Feb. 16 public meeting to further discuss the project. Project opponents in the meantime are collecting petition signatures, KXMC-TV reported.

"I keep (the petition) in my back pocket and as I travel around Pierce County and the Rugby area and the surrounding communities, we're going to be out talking to the people and getting their support on the petition to stop the project," farmer Dallas Hager said.

Chuck Volk, who farms less than 2 miles from the proposed drilling site, said he asked 117 people at a recent farm show to sign the petition, and 114 of them did.

EERC researcher John Harju said last week that the planned drilling is "a science and engineering project, not a nuclear waste disposal project."