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No quarries near nuke plants?
Concerns of Tanner-area residents prompt lawmakers to plan legislation to limit blasting near nuclear facilities

By M.J. Ellington
mjellington@decaturdaily.com (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Two area lawmakers plan to introduce legislation limiting rock-quarry blasting near nuclear power plants.

Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, and Sen. Tom Butler, D-Madison, said they became concerned after some Tanner-area residents came out against a rock quarry proposed for their area.

The Rogers Group of Nashville, which operates a quarry in the Elkmont area, wants to relocate nearer to the primary growth area in Limestone County.

Some Tanner-area residents spoke at a Limestone County Commission meeting Wednesday. They said their area's housing developments, traffic and protected wildlife habitats are reason enough to oppose the quarry. Also, the quarry could stymie expected growth near an Interstate 65 interchange to be built at Huntsville-Browns Ferry Road. That area is designated as a Tennessee Valley Authority megasite and could be home to future industrial development.

Commission members said they don't have the authority to stop the quarry.

Hammon and Butler said the proposed quarry's close proximity of Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant is a good reason to pass a state law banning quarry blasting within a certain distance from nuclear plants.

Hammon and Butler said they expect the bill to apply statewide but, as of Thursday, they did not yet have a bill drafted and do not know how far from a nuclear plant the blasting ban should extend.

"This only came up a day and a half ago," Butler said.

Added Hammon: "We started out thinking it was a local issue, but as we studied it, it became apparent it is a statewide issue."

Butler said possible adverse effects from blasting in an area near the nuclear power plant present a legitimate safety concern. "It is such a concern that we would be derelict in our duty if we did not explore it," he said.

Butler said a quick Internet search brings up issues dealing with similar questions in other states. He said the two may consult with the National Council of State Legislatures to see if laws on the issue already exist in other states.

Hammon and Butler expect to have the legislation ready for the 2008 regular session, which begins in February.

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