Environmental group opposes nuclear waste shipments to SRS

 

An environmental group wants more transparency on potential shipments of high-level nuclear waste from Canada and Germany to Savannah River Site, saying the U.S. Department of Energy has not given enough information to taxpayers and advisory boards.

New materials being considered for disposal would be moved from the Juelich facility in Germany to SRS, where they would be processed at the South Carolina site’s H Canyon facilities, said Tom Clements, the southeastern nuclear campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth.

No decision has been made on the German waste, said Maxcine Maxted, a used nuclear fuel program manager for the Department of Energy at SRS. The Savannah River National Laboratory at SRS has conducted research this year on the waste, and results will be considered when making a decision, Maxted said at a Tuesday meeting of the nuclear materials committee of the Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board.

On Thursday, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will discuss Canadian waste imports to the U.S.

In a letter cited by Clements, a coalition of German environmentalists said the waste should stay in Germany where a new storage facility should be built. The waste does not pose a threat because it is not suitable for nuclear weapons, they said.

“I think you (the Citizens Advisory Board) need to be informed in more detail about the German material. Potentially it could come to Sa­vannah River Site,” Clements said. “It could add to the burden of management of the H Canyon and go into the tanks or somewhere else.”

Clint Wolfe, executive director of Aiken-based Citizens for Nuclear Tech­nology Awareness, said SRS should consider receiving imported waste because it has the facilities to handle the nuclear materials.

“Savannah River Site has very unique assets for dealing with these types of materials,” he said.

With the lack of a permanent federal repository for nuclear waste, Aiken resident Connie Young said the Department of Energy should not be allowing shipments of waste to SRS.

“I am very worried about the waste because we have no way of sending it away,” Young said. “(Our officials) are not doing their job in making sure we have a place to send this stuff.”

Rose Hayes, chair of the nuclear materials committee, said the Citizens Advisory Board will make every effort to stay informed on waste shipments.

“(We will) continue to see what we understand to be our goal, to identify pathways for the material to leave the Savannah River Site and the state of South Carolina,” Hayes said.

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