In the two previous posts we covered the recent hearings by the presidential blue ribbon commission on nuclear waste reprocessing at the South Carolina’s Savannah River Site.
Subsequent news reports have tended to emphasis the words of Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint. Graham attended the Augusta hearing, and had this to say, according to The State.
“I’m very willing for the Savannah River Site to be the research and the development facility for the nation to make that idea a reality,’’ Graham, R-S.C., told the Blue Ribbon Panel on America’s Nuclear Future, which held the hearing. “The goal of reprocessing and recycling is to reduce your storage footprint, right?”
DeMint did not appear, but issued the following statement through his spokesman, again quoted by The State:
“I would urge the commission to fully explore the possibilities available in dealing with this waste, including nuclear recycling….Without a final destination for our nation’s nuclear waste, I fear that our nuclear industry will never reach its full potential…’’
Both DeMint and Graham strongly endorsed bringing nuclear waste to the SRS despite the lack of a permanent depository after reprocessing. Yucca Mountain in Nevada was once intended as a more-or-less permanent site, but this project was terminated in the previous Democratic congress.
The Yucca site was supposed to take much of the nation’s burden by disposing of the highly radioactive material inside a hollowed out mountain some 90 miles from Las Vegas. But it was highly controversial in Nevada, home of influential Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, and President Obama dropped the plan after taking office. Billions of dollars have been spent developing the site over the past two decades.
Tom Clements, a nuclear policy expert and South Carolina Green Party 2010 nominee for U.S. Senate, spoke to the panel and was also quoted by the paper:
Tom Clements of Columbia, a nuclear program coordinator with Friends of the Earth, told panelists that reprocessing is a bad idea. The nation needs a permanent disposal site for nuclear waste, but there is no rush, he said. Commercial radioactive waste can be stored safely at power plants for a century, he said, citing a Nuclear Regulatory Commission document. Environmentalists say reprocessing can result in the nation’s spent nuclear fuel being sent to SRS, effectively making it a dumping ground.
“We don’t want South Carolina to become the new Yucca Mountain, and we’re going to fight it,’’ Clements said.
Leslie Minerd, a member of the SC Green Party steering committee and 2010 Green Party candidate for SC Attorney General, also addressed the panel.
We will continue to follow developments on the proposal to reprocess and store nuclear waste at SRS.