Environmental group opposes nuclear waste shipments to SRS

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 9:03 PM
Last updated 9:07 PM
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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.

Meg Mirshak
Staff Writer
Twitter: @megmirshak
E-mail | 706-823-3228

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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Tom Clements
Tom Clements 12/11/13 - 04:38 am
German waste dumping on SRS

The AVR German reactor fuel consists of 152 large casks holding about 290,000 highly radioactive graphite balls, originally containing some US-origin highly enriched uranium. Before moving further with any consideration of bringing this material to the Savannah River Site, an Environmental Impact Statement must be prepared, including description of how it would be processed and the final disposal of it. German media has reported that shipping it to the US could cost 450 million Euros ($600 million), which is the real reason that SRS is interested in taking the waste (not nuclear non-proliferation). Why should SRS take in more hard-to-manage high-level waste when it is struggling to deal with what's already at the site? Germany should deal with its own waste.

soapy_725 12/11/13 - 09:33 am
Where has this group been of the last 60 years? SRS has always

been the repository for the nuclear waste of the world. Read and learn or remain ignorant and apathetic.

soapy_725 12/11/13 - 09:34 am
No one care about the first 50 years of dumping. $$$ & good jobs

No one care about the first 50 years of dumping. $$$ & good jobs

Reindeargirl 12/11/13 - 09:31 pm
Its not environmental groups that oppose nuclear waste dumping.

Its the people of South Carolina! We are tired of being the east coast low common denominator for everyone else's garbage. We no longer want to prostitute ourselves under the guise of jobs to collect a legacy of some of the most dangerous, toxic, long-lived materials known to humanity. We want the Savannah River site OUT of the waste dumping business and concentrating wholly on cleaning up and remediating a half century's worth of waste dumping from years past. We certainly don't want to hand the next generation a worse situation than we created. Say no to more waste, and yes to funding and concentrating on clean up, and NOTHING MORE.

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