More spent fuel is coming

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Savannah River Site has been cleared to accept an additional 1.1 metric tons of spent nuclear reactor fuel from foreign research reactors under a program designed to prevent such material from falling into the hands of terrorists.

The material -- containing enriched uranium -- would come from reactors in more than a dozen nations and could be shipped to SRS by rail or truck after being offloaded from ships at the Charleston, S.C., Naval Weapons Station, according to a notice published Friday in the Federal Register.

Research reactors are smaller facilities typically operated by universities or scientific research centers, said Jim Giusti, a U.S. Energy Department spokesman.

"Before any of that material can be shipped, they must first explore commercial disposal sites prior to considering SRS," he said.

SRS was cleared in 1996 to accept as much as 19 metric tons of spent nuclear reactor fuel under two existing non-proliferation programs, he said, but the research reactor material was not covered.

To be eligible for disposal at SRS, the new material must meet four criteria: it must pose a threat to national security, be susceptible to use in an improvised nuclear device, pose a risk of a terrorist threat and be vulnerable to theft or diversion.

Federal authorities evaluated the material's potential effects on health and safety and concluded there are no additional risks.

Mr. Giusti said only a fraction of the 19 tons of material previously approved for shipment to SRS has actually been stored there.

"Since 1996 they have made a total of 46 shipments, of which 36 went to SRS," he said.

Those shipments included 202 casks of material; the additional 1.1 tons would add about 77 casks.

The Federal Register notice did not include dates for the shipments.

Tom Clements, the southeast nuclear campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth, said the material could be three or four shipments.

"It is usually brought in without advance announcement, and generally they only answer questions about it once it's already on site," he said.

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or

Further reading: "Supplement Analysis for the U.S. Disposition of Spent Nuclear Fuel"">style="italic">

Source: US Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration

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iletuknow 01/24/09 - 04:18 am
Add one more accolade for

Add one more accolade for Augusta: The world's garbage dump.

usnvet 01/24/09 - 09:25 am
SRS makes all the meth labs

SRS makes all the meth labs in the world look like an easy bake oven convention. I say round up all the nuclear educated people in the world and do away with them, send THEM to Gitmo. Then the "arms race" will end and they will stop producing stuff that is deadly to all life forms for millions of years.

SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 01/24/09 - 09:29 am
SRS will be more of a garbage

SRS will be more of a garbage dump if this spent fuel is "reprocessed" in the H-Canyon reprocessing plant, which would mean making a deadly liquid mess out of it to remove uranium. While a few stand to make money on that, Congress should act in the public interest and cut funding for this facility which means more waste pumped into the aging high-level waste storage tanks.

Riverman1 01/24/09 - 04:56 pm
Just give us the jobs in this

Just give us the jobs in this time of recession and people out of work. I can deal with the possibility of this and that later. Our unemployment rate is not that high and I'd like to keep it like that.

59Trumpet 01/24/09 - 09:30 pm
Spent fuel comes into SC

Spent fuel comes into SC through Charleston,President closes down GITMO,Muslim terrorist prisoners relocated to SC federal prisons,come in through Charleston,what erupts is a criticality.

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