After nuclear project abandoned, area businesses already hurting

After nuclear project abandoned, area businesses already hurting

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, SC (WIS) - It's just a campground, but co-owner D. Melton says Broad River Campground feels like home.

"All the people here, the workers, are absolutely great. They've become almost like family members – just great people to know and be around," he said.

But now, the community – just a few miles from V.C. Summer – is changing.

"I have about, I'd say, 98 or 99 percent of these people here do work at V.C. Summer," Melton said.

That's why the sudden abandonment of the nuclear plant's expansion project could be felt at the campground immediately. Tuesday, contractors loaded up rented propane tanks as campers packed up and hit the road – now unemployed and looking for work.

"One of the workers said his best buddy just bought a new home here in Columbia and a new pick-up truck two days ago and walks in and finds out he no longer has a job," Melton said.

For Melton and those workers, it happened so fast.

"A couple of my campers told me they were standing there in the meetings, and as they were announcing the information and what was going on, a lot of people beginning to cry and carry on and just d ropping their tools and slinging things down and walking off," he told WIS.

For Melton himself, he's left with a half-empty campground and the job of re-inventing his business. Across Fairfield County, other businesses are in similar predicaments.

Terry Vickers, the President of the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce, sent WIS this statement:

"Over the past 10 years Fairfield County has been proud of the fact that two new reactors were being licensed and built, which had not been done in the US in 30 years.  So everyone is in shock from the announcement yesterday to halt constructions of these reactors.  We have citizens without jobs, rental accommodations without renters, retail establishments catering to customers with less spendable income.  I am sure we have not fully identified all the areas that will be affected by this announcement.  I do feel our County Council will gather all the information needed to develop a plan for our County.  I think the SCE&G folks are feeling the same shock with the Santee Cooper announcement.  Having worked in this County for twenty years I am certain that our Council, Delegation, Industry leaders will put their heads together and work though the current situation to provide for our community."

Meanwhile, back at the campground, Melton said he's confident it will survive. It'll just be different without the community that had set up shop and called this place home.

The silver lining for Melton – his campground isn't far from Lake Monticello, the Broad River, and Lake Murray. He hopes to attract hunters, fisherman, and other outdoor enthusiasts to his campground.

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