DOE to scrap SRS initiative

The U.S. Energy Department will scrap a Bush administration initiative that could have brought billions of dollars in new spending—and a lot more nuclear materials— to South Carolina.

The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, unveiled in 2006, was a plan to reprocess spent commercial nuclear fuel to maximize its efficiency, reduce waste volume and prevent its exploitation for nuclear weapons. Two of the 11 sites proposed for such reprocessing centers are in South Carolina.

The domestic portion of the international program, which has been criticized by environmental groups as too expensive and too dirty, will not be pursued any further.

“The Department has already decided not to continue the domestic GNEP program of the last administration,” said DOE deputy press secretary Jen Stutsman in a statement today to Nuclear Engineering International magazine. “The long-term fuel cycle research and development program will continue, but not the near-term deployment of recycling facilities or fast reactors.”

Tom Clements, the Southeast nuclear campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth, said scrapping the program has both positive and negative impacts for South Carolina.

“Some of the big contractors have been anxious to get new missions for Savannah River Site, including a reprocessing facility, so this will be a big setback to those efforts,” Mr. Clements said. “On the other hand, it is good news for the taxpayers and good news for the environment of South Carolina in that we wouldn’t have all this material being shipped here.”

One of the possible sites for a reprocessing facility is in Barnwell County adjacent to SRS. Savannah River National Laboratory within SRS also received a grant to study site possibilities.

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