Friday, April 25, 2014

YIMBY in South Carolina - maybe they can get Boston's health facility also

I recently wrote a post that detailed a controversy in Boston. At least one City Councilman wants to prohibit Boston University from conducting research on Biosafety Level 4 agents. The councilman, Charles Yancey, is concerned that these agents (basically, diseases for which there is no treatment or vaccine) could end up in the wrong hands.

When I titled my post, I used the acronym "NIMBY" in the post title. NIMBY, or "not in my back yard," is often applied to a situation where someone claims to support a particular cause - as long as it doesn't occur next to them. I am sure that Charles Yancey would not raise a great fuss, for example, if the University of South Carolina were to conduct research on Biosafety Level 4 agents.

Speaking of South Carolina, there's a little controversy going on there. The U.S. Department of Energy is operating a nuclear facility near Aiken, South Carolina. The purpose of the facility is to turn weapons-grade plutonium into commercial nuclear reactor fuel. Obviously, such a facility requires plutonium, which means that there's a whole bunch of that deadly material floating around South Carolina. And Charles Yancey thought that BOSTON had problems.

Understandably, there are two sides in this battle. One side asserts that a plutonium conversion facility is extremely dangerous and costly. The other side asserts that the plutonium conversion facility is necessary to implement international agreements, and that it would be un-Constitutional to shut the facility down.

Oh, by the way, it's the STATE that wants to keep the facility open, and the FEDS who want to shut it down.

South Carolina has asked a federal judge to rule in the state’s favor in a lawsuit seeking to keep viable a nuclear reactor fuel project at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.

In court papers filed earlier this week, Attorney General Alan Wilson and other attorneys for the state asked for a decision without a trial.

The state is suing the U.S. Energy Department to keep the government from withdrawing funding from a multi-billion dollar project to turn weapons-grade plutonium into commercial reactor fuel. Gov. Nikki Haley has said that the closure of the mixed-oxide fuel project would harm an international nonproliferation agreement and eliminate hundreds of jobs.

This is especially odd since South Carolina, which has a tradition of states' rights that goes back to the 1830s, is essentially arguing that the U.S. Congress (which supports the project) should have the power to implement it in South Carolina.

This is not the only YIMBY occurrence, of course - there are regions, usually impoverished, that will actively fight to get business or facilities that other regions don't want to touch. For example, there is a group in Long Island that is campaigning for low-income housing, and a group in Sweden that is campaigning for...something in Swedish. (I think it's beer.)

So could the South Carolina state government make a play to attract Biosafety Level 4 research in the state?
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