UPDATE: Both the Aiken Standard and the Augusta Chronicle have come out with op-eds opposing dumping German HEU nuclear waste at SRS:
“Don’t Dump on Us” and “New German Waste Another Bad Signal”
TAKE ACTION…Submit your comment by MONDAY July 21st! See info below…
ACTION ALERT: Oppose German HEU Nuclear Waste Coming to SRS
The Department of Energy (DOE) is considering proposals to bring German HEU (Highly Enriched Uranium) commercial spent fuel to the Savannah River Site for processing and disposal. But there is no place to dispose of it for the long-term meaning it would wind up dumped at SRS for decades if not permanently. Environmentalists and concerned citizens have already spoken out at a DOE Hearing in North Augusta in opposition on Tuesday June 24th… now it is your TURN TO SPEAK UP!
TAKE ACTION! Tell DOE to Consider the Environmental & Financial Liabilities of Dumping German Nuclear Waste at SRS.
The DOE is soliciting comment from the public to make an Environmental Assessment (EA) on whether bringing German HEU Nuclear Waste to SRS would have a “significant impact” on the local community, thus requiring a more researched “environmental impact statement” (EIS) under federal law. Boosters and supporters of bringing German HEU Nuclear Waste to SRS are urging a finding of “no significant impact” to avoid an environmental impact statement. Tell DOE to consider the environmental & financial liabilities of dumping German nuclear waste at SRS. Please include any additional factors…environmental or socioeconomic… that should be weigh in on considering a community impact.
Submit Comments to Andrew Grainger at firstname.lastname@example.org
[CORRECTED EMAIL ADDRESS}
SUBMIT COMMENT BY MONDAY JULY 21st
For More Background…
One million tennis ball sized graphite fuel spheres each containing 1 gram of highly enriched uranium (HEU) could be headed to the Savannah River Site (SRS) for disposal under proposals being considered by the Department of Energy (DOE). Left over from mothballed experimental reactors in Germany, the HEU commercial spent fuel would be “chemically digested” and “downblended” to low enriched uranium (LEU), rendering it unusable in a nuclear weapon or a radiological weapon often called a “dirty bomb.” Due to these nonproliferation concerns, the international community decided to phase out HEU commercial fuel in the 1990s. DOE is considering 1. Taking No Action (not accepting the nuclear waste from Germany), 2. Reprocessing the Waste into Nuclear Fuel, 3. Processing the Nuclear Waste and Vitrifying for Long-Term Disposal. 4. Processing the Nuclear Waste and Only Vitrifying Some, Storing the Rest. The waste would be shipped through the port of Charleston and delivered to SRS via rail.
While Germany would bankroll processing of the HEU waste at SRS to the tune of $1 billion, it is unclear what will be done with the nuclear waste afterwards with no clear disposition path for long-term disposal. Wastes would include the the HEU (to be downblended to LEU), thorium, and fissile products, as well as chemicals used in the downblending process. With DOE already vexed by the failure of Yucca Mountain and with no plan to dispose of long-term waste… both military “legacy” materials and the piling up commercial nuclear waste at US reactors, it is highly likely that this German HEU commercial spent fuel would wind up as waste at SRS for decades if not permanently. The SRS Community Advisory Board (CAB) recently issued a resolution opposing storing commercial nuclear waste from
Nuclear industry boosters supporting the import of German nuclear waste and environmentalists opposing it dueled in 3 minute testimonies at a DOE Hearing in North Augusta soliciting comment on the proposals this past Tuesday June 24th. Tom Clements of Savannah River Site Watch lead the critics speaking which included local citizens and representatives from Don’t Waste Aiken, the Sierra Club, Georgia WAND, Nuclear Watch South, the League of Women Voters and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), all opposing accepting the German waste, noting the lack of a disposition path for the waste and calling for consideration of the long-term environmental and health impacts.s. Advocates of bringing German nuclear waste to SRS, included members of Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness (CNTA), nuclear industry retirees, and the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, who stressed the financial benefit, the technical capacity and safe operating track record at SRS, and the nonproliferation imperative of dealing with the HEU nuclear material. Supporters also urged that DOE Environmental Assessment find “No Significant Impact” and thus eliminate the requirement of an environmental impact statement (EIS).
DOE is soliciting “scoping” imput for an “EA,” an “Environmental Assessment” that will determine if a significant impact from the proposal requires and environmental impact statement (EIS) as required under NEPA (National Environmental Protection Act). Any factors that should be considered… environmental, financial or socio-economic… and should weigh on a decision.
CAROLINA PEACE’S POSITION: German HEU commercial nuclear waste should not be accepted for processing at SRS. This nuclear waste has no definite disposition path and is likely to remain at SRS for decades if not permanently. It would also open the door to processing commercial nuclear waste at SRS… something the SRS Community Advisory Board (CAB) roundly rejected recently. Any Environmental Assessment should include consideration of the possibility of long-term impact of nuclear wastes remaining at SRS in all aspects including the environmental and financial liabilities. Further, we affirm that transporting German HEU from Germany to the US is a proliferation risk and leaves the nuclear material open to terrorist attack. Securing the German HEU nuclear waste in place is preferable as is developing a process to convert the HEU waste to LEU waste with minimum transport over the long term to fulfill nonproliferation needs. As a modern, stable NATO ally, Germany’s holding of HEU waste is not an urgent issue for nonproliferation in the short term.