2010 SC Green Party candidate for Senate Tom Clements confronted pro-nuclear Senator Graham at a press conference on Saturday. Graham has taken more than $40,000 in campaign contributions from the nuclear industry.
Clements is Southeast Nuclear Policy Coordinator for Friends of the Earth. He and the organization do excellent work in South Carolina’s environmental movement. Graham was touring Duke Power’s Oconee Nuclear Station in support of plans to build 6 new nuclear reactors in and around South Carolina.
The Oconee nuclear plant has serious safety issues, which were discussed in a recent report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Friends of the Earth and Clements want to keep these safety issues in the public eye.
On his campaign’s Facebook page, Clements described the interaction as follows:
…on Tuesday, I faced off against a panicked Senator Lindsey Graham who was touting for the nuclear industry at the Oconee nuclear plant – at a “secret” news conference in the visitor center. I couldn’t resist crashing it. I showed FEC reports about how much Lindsey got from the nuclear industry in 2009-2010 – about $45,000, more than 1/3 of his PAC donations. Like DeMint, we’ve got another South Carolina snake amongst us, who is exploiting government to benefit special interests.
The State quotes Graham responding to Clements:
The senator faced criticism Tuesday from anti-nuclear activist Tom Clements, who disputed that all of the problems were resolved. Clements also said the press event was little more than an attempt to advance an industry on which Graham relies for campaign funds.
Clements gave reporters data showing that Graham has received in the past two years about $40,000 in campaign contributions from those sympathetic to the nuclear industry, such as major power companies. Clements, who is with Friends of the Earth, raised those questions during a press briefing after the tour.
“The reason people in the nuclear power industry support me is because I believe in what they do,” Graham told Clements. “I don’t get any money from your organization because I disagree with you.”
The nuclear industry is scrambling to fill the pages of The State with enough public relations twaddle to cover up the radioactive disaster in Japan. Graham is a long-time advocate for nuclear power, as is his colleague in the Senate, Jim DeMint.
Both Senators from South Carolina favor reprocessing nuclear waste at the Savannah River Site. Reprocessing will mean storing spent nuclear rods in SC. The exposure of the spent rods in spent fuel pools at the Fukushima plant in Japan are a part of the ongoing disaster there.
In addition to the used fuel stored on site at reactors in and around the state, hundreds of thousands of gallons of irradiated liquid waste and sludge are stored at the Savannah River Site. Graham and DeMint have proposed bringing nuclear waste to SRS from around the country for reprocessing. Without a permanent waste storage facility, that reprocessed waste will likely stay in SC.
Graham is correct that the nuclear industry supports him because of his support for nuclear power. It is also accurate to say that the tens of thousands of dollars he’s received from the nuclear industry interest have swamped the tens and twenties from nuclear power opponents. When political donations determine the discourse, then only the interests of the rich and powerful are heard.
- Water Report. Chapter 15: Savannah River Site. Alliance for Nuclear Accountability. PDF. http://www.ananuclear.org/Portals/0/documents/Water%20Report/waterreportsavannahriver.pdf
- S Area Radioactive Waste Storage – Savannah River Site, South Carolina. Sciway.net. http://www.sciway.net/srs-savannah-river-site/s-area-radioactive-waste-storage.html