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Savannah River Site's nuclear pork, venison are safe to eat

  • Follow Rob Pavey

Savannah River Site is widely known for its legendary deer and hog hunts.

Video: Augusta Outdoors
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It’s also where the government stores some of its oldest and hottest radioactive waste.

After decades of Cold War nuclear weapons production, visitors often wonder if all that venison safe to eat.

Believe it or not, scientists must answer that question each year in an annual Environmental Report.

Last week, during a briefing before the SRS Citizens Advisory Board, environmental monitoring manager Ben Terry shared the newest data on radiation doses from air, soil, water, fish – and animals killed by hunters.

If there is any bad news, it’s that the calculated “sportsman dose” of radiation for onsite deer and hog hunters is by far the highest among the categories modeled. But that total dose – 14.7 millirems – remains well below the Department of Energy standard of 100 millrems.

Terry also explained that the modeling is very conservative and makes assumptions that would err only on the side of caution.

The onsite hunter dose, for example, assumes our theoretical sportsman consumed nine hogs and five deer during the year.

That’s a lot of pork and venison, nuclear or not.

SHRINKING RIVER: Upstate reservoirs have been receding steadily for most of the year and now it’s the Savannah RIver’s turn.

The Corps of Engineers announced late last week that Thurmond Lake’s pool level had fallen to 316 feet above sea level – 14 feet below full pool – triggering a flow reduction mandate in its federally approved drought management plan.

Basically, it means the flows from the dam into the river will cease from the 3,800 cubic feet per second in recent months to just 3,100 cubic feet per second. Those flows are computed on a daily average.

Corps spokesman Bill;y Birdwell said the process of slowing the flows will occur over several days. By Nov. 10, the target of 3,100 cubic feet per second will have been reached, and will remain through January.

DOLLARS FOR GEORGIA: The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Georgia chapter is planning to spend $118,000 on wildlife-related projects around the state during 2013.

The project list includes land acquisition, habitat work to boost turkey populations in Oconee National Forest, planting 20 acres of new wildlife openings in Chattahoochee National Forest, assistance with employing workers to help with Department of Natural Resources habitat programs on public hunting lands and donating surveillance equipment and turkey decoys to battle poachers.

YOUTH DUCK HUNTS: The Corps of Engineers is taking applications through Nov. 13 for its popular youth waterfowl hunts held near the Lake Russell project office. Hunt dates are Nov. 17, Nov. 23, Dec. 8, and Dec. 15. Four slots for youths 9 to 15 will be available at each hunt.

A parent or guardian must accompany youth participants and is also allowed to hunt. Selection is by random drawing. To apply, call Jeff Brooks, 1-800-944-7207, ext. 3424; or send a letter of interest – with name, age, address and phone numbers of youth and adult applicants – to Jeff Brooks, USACE, 4144 Russell Dam Drive, Elberton, Ga., 30635.


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