- Associated Press - Saturday, November 22, 2014

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - A World War II-era Liberty ship converted to a barge-mounted nuclear reactor will not arrive in Texas this year amid concerns about safety and storage of what’s left of the vessel.

The Army Corps of Engineers will work with Galveston leaders on a new timetable for the former USS Sturgis to be towed from Virginia for scrapping, The Galveston County Daily News (https://bit.ly/1y1pWwD ) reported Saturday.

City council members earlier this month sought more information on the nearly $35 million project involving the decommissioned floating power plant. The nuclear reactor and fuel have been removed from the Sturgis, which the military stopped using in the 1970s. The Corps intends to remove the remaining materials, containing low levels of radioactivity, for storage.

Brenda Barber, a Corps project manager, said Friday the barge would not be towed in December as planned.

“At this point, we are willing to delay the towing of the Sturgis,” Barber said. “During the next few months, we will work with the City Council to address project concerns.” She did not provide a timeline.

Councilman Norman Pappous welcomed the delay.

“We have questions that need to be answered,” Pappous said. “I have questions about their information as to the city’s responsibilities and what the city is expected to do and if we have those capabilities.”

The shipyard should be required to obtain a specific use permit, according to Pappous. Disassembly was planned at the Malin International Shipyard.

The contract was awarded last April. Some residents learned of the project this fall and questioned how Galveston was chosen.

Corps officials have said they followed normal contract procedures for advertising but did not include Galveston leaders in their initial notifications. Galveston was chosen because of proximity to facilities that accept low-level radioactive waste and other toxic, discarded materials.


Information from: The Galveston County Daily News, https://www.galvnews.com

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