Group to explore position on bringing nuclear waste to SRS

Savannah River Site’s Citi­zens Advisory Board appears divided over whether to oppose or support any plan to bring spent nuclear fuel to the area for storage and possible reprocessing.

In May, the group discussed a draft recommendation that opposed using the site to store any commercial nuclear waste. Now there are two draft statements, with one offering conditional support for such efforts.

“There are two general positions the CAB can take and each has support of a segment of the community,” Ed Burke, who heads the group’s waste management committee, wrote in an e-mail to members.

One position is not to support bringing commercial waste to the site, while the other would support the idea if communities can participate through “consent-based siting,” and if “proper incentives” were provided, Burke said.

“The CAB can only support one position since these positions are diametrically opposed to each other,” Burke wrote. “The CAB can also choose to support neither of these positions.”

The group has scheduled a meeting at 6 p.m. July 15 to discuss the different versions of the draft statement.

Though there is no formal plan to bring spent commercial reactor fuel to the site, the demise of the 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, noting that storage could also lead to a reprocessing complex at SRS.

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