Tomorrow, January 7, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (www.brc.gov) will meet in Augusta, Georgia from 8 AM to 3 PM at the at the Augusta Marriott Hotel and Suites, Two Tenth Street, Augusta, GA 30901 [map]. The meeting will “hear from regional representatives about the nation’s nuclear waste policy. The Commission will hear brief PUBLIC COMMENTS starting at about 2 pm (you have to sign up in person by 1 pm).” For information, email Maryo@nirs.org, 828-252-8409 or 828-242-5621.
Tom Clements, SC Green Party candidate for US Senate, will be at the hearing as a representative of Friends of the Earth. Other speakers from the South Carolina Sierra Club and other interested parties, both pro and against nuclear dumping, will speak at the meeting. Environmentalists will engage this issue at the meeting as well as the long term unsustainability of nuclear power.
As efforts continue to close Yucca Mountain as a “permanent” storage facility for nuclear waste, it is quite likely that the waste processed at SRS will become stuck there.
Today’s The State quotes Clements in the following article as an expert in nuclear power and policy issues:
Nuclear dumping in SC a concern
Forum Friday to discuss role SRS should play now that Yucca Mountain site is off the table
By Sammy Fretwell, – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, Jan. 06, 2011
Critics, however, say reprocessing creates its own toxic waste stream, doesn’t recycle all the used fuel — and produces a demand for nuclear waste. If reprocessing doesn’t work, nuclear fuel shipped to SRS for recycling would likely remain there, critics say. Reprocessing has long been a topic of intense debate. Reprocessing defense material has occurred for decades at SRS, but that helped create some 37 million gallons of toxic nuclear waste. Although done in Europe, commercial reprocessing was abandoned in the U.S. in the late 1970s because of safety concerns.
“We will watch out for the public interest and strongly oppose efforts to dump high-level nuclear waste in South Carolina,” said former U.S. Senate candidate Tom Clements, a nuclear campaign coordinator with Friends of the Earth. “Environmental groups will confront efforts by special interests to reprocess nuclear spent fuel as it leaves behind a huge volume of nuclear waste and would make SRS the nation’s de facto nuclear dump, which is totally unacceptable.”
Susan Corbett, who chairs the state Sierra Club, said SRS has a recent history of bringing in the nation’s unwanted nuclear material to feed a mixed oxide fuel plant. But the plant has no customers, raising the possibility surplus plutonium will remain at SRS indefinitely, she said.
Bringing atomic waste to SRS for a possible reprocessing facility would only continue the state’s legacy as a site to dump the nation’s waste, she said. Until just a few years ago, South Carolina had a national low-level nuclear waste dump near Barnwell, a national medical waste incinerator at Hampton, and a regional hazardous waste landfill on Lake Marion. The state also has several major regional garbage dumps and entertained ideas last year of allowing a new incinerator near Chester.
“We’ve had a lot of waste that was orphaned here,’’ Corbett said.
Senator Lindsey Graham is cited in the article as a proponent of the nuclear recycling in South Carolina. According to a July 5 article in The State, Graham presumes that Yucca mountain will remain open, despite Democratic efforts to close it. Other supports of nuclear reprocessing at SRS echoed that opinion in today’s article, quoted above.
After Obama moved to mothball Yucca, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from Seneca, introduced a bill in April 2009 to give nuclear utility consumers rebates for the Yucca surcharges that they had paid.
“The decision by the Obama administration to close Yucca Mountain was ill-advised and leaves our nation without a disposal plan spent nuclear fuel or Cold War waste,” Graham said.
Senate Democratic leaders have stymied Graham’s bill, which hasn’t moved from the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee.
Jim DeMint and Governor Sanford, who also support reprocessing nuclear waste at SRS, are also invited to attend the hearing.
Meeting time and information made available by the South Carolina Progressive Network.