Originally created 08/18/99

Official: Cleanup top task



Work at Savannah River Site will remain focused on cleanup of pollution caused by former activities there, a site official told a local Sierra Club chapter Tuesday.

"The biggest mission at SRS is cleanup, and the main mission at SRS for the next 30 years probably will be cleanup," said Chuck Borup, the U.S. Department of Energy's site planning and development manager for SRS.

The site, owned by the Energy Department, recycles radioactive material for the nation's nuclear weapons, and treats some radioactive waste left over from the Cold War. The site once produced radioactive material for weapons, leaving behind severely polluted soil and groundwater.

Cleanup of that pollution will continue, Mr. Borup assured about 25 members of the Sierra Club's Savannah River Group on Tuesday night at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Walton Way in Augusta.

During his presentation, Mr. Borup outlined long-term plans for the site's 310 square miles.

Plans call for much of the land to be opened to limited public use, Mr. Borup said. Currently, access to the site is controlled tightly.

Under new plans, a narrow strip of land along the site's northwest border would be opened, Mr. Borup said.

The strip would connect two larger tracts that already allow some public access: the Crackerneck Wildlife Management Area and the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory's conference center.

The industrial plants would move to the 310-square-mile site's center, Mr. Borup said. The move would allow for increased safety and security at the site, he said.

The move also would concentrate SRS infrastructure -- such as water and sewer systems, steam pipes and roads -- in a central area, rather than spreading it throughout the site, Mr. Borup said.

"We're trying to shrink the site down into a more efficient, cheaper-to-run operation as we look to future years," he said.

Placing heavy industry at the SRS' center also could prevent more areas from being polluted, Mr. Borup said. The site's most polluted groundwater already is beneath industrial plants at its center.

"If you have a problem, you want to keep everything that might contribute to the problem where you can handle it, so the problem doesn't go somewhere else," he said.

Brandon Haddock covers energy issues for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3409 or bhaddock@augustachronicle.com.