Advisory board opposes SRS as nuclear waste venue

Savannah River Site’s Citizens Advisory Board adopted a position paper Tuesday opposing SRS’ future use as a storage site for spent nuclear fuel.

“Future generations of South Carolinians and Georgians will not be well served by having the Savannah River Site become an interim storage site for commercial nuclear waste, and for what will be an undetermined length of time,” the position paper stated.

Its adoption in a 17-6 vote followed debate in recent weeks during which South Carolina’s Sierra Club and other groups lobbied against using the site to store commercial nuclear waste once destined for the defunct Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada.

“This vote firmly established that the community is on a track to reject any formal proposal to store highly radioactive commercial spent fuel at SRS,” said Tom Clements, the Southeastern Nuclear Campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth.

Washington’s cancellation of the Yucca Mountain project left the nation without a final resting place for about 75,000 tons of spent fuel that continues to accumulate at the nation’s 104 commercial power reactors.

A federal committee has proposed “consolidated, interim storage” as an alternative, and SRS has been discussed as a possible location.

According to a $200,000 study commissioned by the SRS Community Reuse Organization, the Aiken County site’s nuclear expertise and infrastructure could fulfil the needs of an interim storage program, while bringing jobs and economic benefits to the region.

The advisory board’s position paper, however, stated that there are no data supporting an assumption that a repository superior to Yucca Mountain will ever be identified.

“In addition, the $13 billion … already spent to build the Yucca Mountain facility will be totally lost if a different site is selected,” the group said. “Considering the current national debt and budget deficit, it is unlikely that adequate funding will be available.”

Clements said the advisory board’s position is politically important, in part because a proposed law that would create a federal Nuclear Waste Administration calls for “consent-based siting” in which communities affected by waste storage would have a high level of influence.

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Topics Page: Savannah River Site

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