FROM A NEWS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE CONGRESSMAN'S OFFICE TODAY:
Several years ago the North Carolina Ports Authority proposed constructing a new, international container facility in Southport. In the past I expressed very serious concerns about how this project might affect the quality of life in Brunswick County. I have also stated that there were very serious questions that needed to be answered before the project could move forward. These include concerns about national security, infrastructure, environmental and economic impacts, and potential affect on local shorelines already struggling with erosion. After years of public debate, I still have these concerns and these questions remain unanswered.
First, as Vice-Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, I am concerned that the location of the proposed port is between two facilities that pose a tempting target of terrorist attack or would be at catastrophic risk in the case of an accident. The site for the proposed international port is near the Progress Energy Brunswick Nuclear Power Plant and the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point. I have not been convinced that security at a port of the size of the proposed project would be adequate enough for the safety and security of the nuclear plant and Sunny Point. More than 90% of the munitions used by our men and women fighting overseas flows through Sunny Point. Doing anything that might pose a risk to that facility would be putting both our soldiers and our national security at risk. In addition, the Brunswick Nuclear Plant is also by the proposed port. Much like Sunny Point, it is not wise or prudent to locate a facility nearby that might pose a risk to the plant.
A reconnaissance study has been completed, but a much more costly feasibility study remains. After listening to the concerns of the people in Brunswick County, and studying this issue I have come to the conclusion that an international port is not right for Southport or the people of Brunswick County. Specifically, my concerns are:
•Because of these concerns, and concerns raised by the communities of Southport, Bald Head Island, Caswell Beach, Boiling Springs, and Saint James - I have come to the conclusion that the proposed international port is too risky and too costly and could cause irreparable harm both economically and environmentally.
•Second, I am concerned that the question of infrastructure associated with a facility the size of the proposed international port has not been answered. A port of this size would require a massive expansion of roads and rails leading to the port. In addition, the flow of heavy trucks and tractor trailers through Brunswick County could expand to a rate that the area has never known. This dramatic expansion in heavy traffic not only poses a strain on the region's infrastructure resources but also raises questions of safety on the roads and economic damage to property values.
•Third, I am also concerned with the potential environmental impacts and the impact on the quality of life of the people of Brunswick County. The Cape Fear River is a treasure that is enjoyed by sportsmen and environmentalists alike. It is an important fish habitat and home to many environmentally sensitive areas. In addition to the environmental sensitivity, Brunswick County is also home to a fishing industry that has existed for centuries. The fishing men and women of North Carolina are already under great strain because of the economy and fishing closures. I am concerned that this port would harm an industry that is already being squeezed.
•Finally, I am concerned about the cost of the international port and our growing national debt. From a few hundred thousand dollars for the initial reconnaissance study to $10 million for the feasibility study, and now several billion for the actual construction of the proposed international port, the question of "how it will be paid for" has not been answered.