Savannah River Site’s Citizens Advisory Board will oppose – at least for now – any future plan to import nuclear waste from commercial power reactors to the South Carolina facility.
During a meeting Monday in Aiken, the board discussed two sharply competing recommendations.
One position was not to support bringing commercial waste to the site under any circumstance; the other would support the idea if communities can participate through “consent-based siting” and if “proper incentives” were provided.
After a lengthy discussion, the group voted 12-10 to oppose the site’s use as a spent-fuel storage venue.
Though there is no formal plan to bring spent commercial reactor fuel to the site, the demise of the federal government’s Yucca Mountain project in Nevada left the nation without options for the 75,000 tons of radioactive spent fuel accumulating at commercial nuclear plants.
A blue-ribbon committee formed to explore alternatives suggested “consolidated, interim storage” of the dangerous material until a better solution can be found. The committee did not make site recommendations, but officials say it would be difficult to explore those options without considering SRS, which has nuclear waste experience and infrastructure and is in the South, which has many commercial nuclear plants.
In March, consultants hired by the SRS Community Reuse Organization – an economic development consortium – unveiled a $200,000 study concluding that the site’s H Canyon processing facilities and history of nuclear involvement make it suitable for such storage.
“Consolidated storage would start with the spent nuclear fuel currently in South Carolina and Georgia and, if successful, could expand to include the remainder of the 20,000 metric tons of spent fuel in the southeastern U.S.,” the report said. Subsequent phases could accommodate spent fuel from Virginia and the Northeast.
Though the project would bring money and jobs to the area, it would require broad community support to be successful, the study said, adding that storage could also lead to a reprocessing complex at SRS.
The vote taken Monday is a recommendation. A formal vote on the matter is scheduled for Monday during the board’s regular meeting.