Blue Ribbon panel to tour SRS, look for solution

Group tasked with finding answer for waste problem

  • Follow Metro

In terms of nuclear issues, the eyes of the nation will be on Augusta this week as the Obama Administration's Blue Ribbon Commission for America's Nuclear Future visits Savannah River Site and Augusta.

The group, whose co-chairman is former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft, was asked to develop a new national plan for long-term disposal of spent nuclear fuel and similar wastes.

The task is as controversial as it is daunting, and commission members can expect an earful during their two-day visit.

"Defense waste like we have at Savannah River Site is a big part of the picture, but commercial nuclear fuel is part of the issue, too," said Rick McLeod, the executive director of the SRS Community Reuse Organization, an economic development group that will make a presentation to the commission Friday.

McLeod's group is among almost two dozen entities in the region that have opposed the Obama administration's decision to abandon the government's Yucca Mountain project, on which $13 billion had been spent during a decade-long effort to create a permanent nuclear waste repository 90 miles from Las Vegas.

The Blue Ribbon Commission was tasked with recommending alternatives to that now-defunct project, which had been designed to accommodate 70,000 tons of waste from the nation's 104 commercial reactors, which are generating about 2,000 additional tons of spent fuel each year.

It was also to be a disposal site for material from 121 temporary sites, including SRS, where high-level defense wastes vitrified in glass and sealed in metal canisters are in storage with no clear path to final disposition.

"The commission is visiting multiple defense sites, but this will be the first time they will actually see vitrified glass in canisters that were destined for Yucca Mountain," McLeod said. "The community feels like a promise was made that the waste was to be vitrified to their criteria and it was supposed to go to Yucca, but promises got broken -- so what's the alternative?"

Commission members plan to tour waste sites and other facilities at the U.S. Energy Department site Thursday and have scheduled a day-long meeting at the Augusta Marriott Riverwalk on Friday.

During that meeting, they will hear comments from invitees that include the governors -- and governors-elect -- of both South Carolina and Georgia, along with eight U.S. senators and members of Congress and local and national environmental groups.

Tom Clements, the southeastern nuclear campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth, fears South Carolina might be forced to take on an even larger nuclear waste role than it already has.

"I believe that the commission's meeting being held near SRS indicates that they are unfortunately eying the site for a role in future high-level waste management, which poses a real risk that SRS could become the new Yucca Mountain," said Clements, who is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion during Friday's meeting in Augusta.

Jim Giusti, an Energy Department spokesman at SRS, said commission members will tour many of the facilities Thursday, and the public will be offered a limited opportunity to visit some of the same areas.

Participants won't be in the same bus as commission members but will see many of the facilities. Registration for the public tour opens at 8 a.m. Monday, and will close at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Register by calling (803) 952--8467.

A co-chairman of the 15-member Blue Ribbon group, Scowcroft, a national security advisor to two presidents, announced in September his plans to visit the Energy Department's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, in addition to SRS. The group is scheduled to make its first recommendations in fall 2011.

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 860-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

If you go

THURSDAY'S TOUR: A drive-by tour of some of Savannah River Site's facilities visited by commission members is being offered to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration opens at 8 a.m. Monday and closes at 5 p.m. Tuesday. About 80 seats are available. Register by calling (803) 952-8467.

FRIDAY'S PUBLIC MEETING: It is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. at Augusta Marriott Riverwalk.

Blue Ribbon Commission: details and background: http://brc.gov/

Federal Register details on Augusta meeting: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-32579.pdf

Comments (6) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Riverman1
84887
Points
Riverman1 01/02/11 - 09:33 am
0
0
A term I coined a while back.

A term I coined a while back. Yucca Mt by default. Wait and see.

SCEagle Eye
917
Points
SCEagle Eye 01/02/11 - 12:30 pm
0
0
Concerned members of the

Concerned members of the larger SC-GA community need to speak up against any thought of bringing commercial spent fuel to SRS, for research or reprocessing or otherwise. There is enough high-level radioactive waste now at SRS, which DOE is struggling to deal with, and we don't want or need more.

namlive
32
Points
namlive 01/02/11 - 07:30 pm
0
0
More waste means more jobs.

More waste means more jobs. Good jobs with pay and benefits. This would help the community which will lose about 2700 jobs at SRS in the next year. Using the standard 5:1 ratio that translates into over an additional 500 jobs lost in the community. Pretty soon we will all be Democrats.

PR
0
Points
PR 01/03/11 - 12:36 am
0
0
Lets hurry up and clean up
Unpublished

Lets hurry up and clean up SRS. That way all the good paying jobs will go away and we can all work for low paying service jobs. The mentality of Augusta never fails to amaze me. Just like building the T-Center. Build it they will come...NOT! No one is going to bring a convetion to Augusta that has nothing to offer when they can go to Atlanta, or Las Vegas, or some other big city with great transportation and night life. Augusta offers NO passenger rail service, LIMITED air service (through connecting cities) and an interstate that goes 5 miles past the downtown. Yeah, the good jobs will go when SRS closes then you'll all complain about the lousy paying jobs that are left.

SCEagle Eye
917
Points
SCEagle Eye 01/03/11 - 10:38 am
0
0
Whatever happened to fiscal

Whatever happened to fiscal conservatism in the CSRA? Some people obviously feel that a handout from big government for tax-payer-funded jobs at SRS is some kind of birthright. It's time for private industry to pony up 100% of the money for any new projects at the site. The rest of us working stiffs won't take too kindly to forking over more money just to keep high-paying jobs at SRS that create yet more waste that we would have to pay to clean up.

ProNuke
0
Points
ProNuke 01/03/11 - 03:59 pm
0
0
The question of reprocessing

The question of reprocessing needs to be put on the table in any discussion of waste disposal options. Also, the results of credible risk assessments need to be promulgated and understood to tone down the level of hysteria in all of these discussions. Billions have been spent on site characterization and risk assessment model development, and I hope the blue ribbon panel has enough technical expertise at its disposal to understand the real situation, not the situation as fear-mongered by groups like so-called Friends of the Earth.

SCEagle Eye
917
Points
SCEagle Eye 01/05/11 - 12:52 pm
0
0
Reprocessing at SRS simply

Reprocessing at SRS simply means we become the nation's nuclear dump site. Please stand up and tell the public that you want spent nuclear fuel brought to SRS to be dissolved in acid and dumped into waste tanks and that we will be the nation's dump. Please don't hide behind the recycling language as most of the by-product of reprocessing is nothing but nuclear waste and isn't recycled. OK?

grinder48
1975
Points
grinder48 01/06/11 - 10:08 am
0
0
PR at 11:36PM is right on
Unpublished

PR at 11:36PM is right on target

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs