The possible storage of spent nuclear fuel at Savannah River Site was left on the table Monday by the SRS Citizens Advisory Board, a group designed to offer advice to the Department of Energy, which owns SRS.
Board members presented a draft recommendation advising DOE not to accept the nuclear material, but decided to wait until a later date to formally consider approving the proposal.
The choice to defer to a later meeting was met with controversy by board members and those in attendance at Monday’s session.
Rose Hayes offered the recommendation to the board, explaining that she believed Waste Management Committee Chairman Ed Burke requested a decision take place during Monday’s meeting or another session set for today.
Burke was not in attendance on Monday, but was scheduled to present a draft recommendation during the board’s meeting.
However, fellow board member Don Bridges indicated that Burke wanted to delay consideration of the proposal in order to examine every angle.
Terry Spears, a DOE representative, agreed with Bridges, noting it was best to bring the proposal forward at a future meeting.
He said it was his understanding that the proposal was brought forward Monday only for discussion and not for a vote.
After discussion, the board decided it will likely take up the issue during a meeting in September or October.
More than a dozen community residents and representatives from nonprofit organizations such as the Sierra Club and the Conservation Voters of South Carolina offered support for the board’s recommendation to DOE.
Hayes said she hoped the board would eventually decide to recommend that DOE not consider using SRS as a storage site for spent nuclear waste.
She noted that SRS has been viewed by policy makers as a potential replacement for Yucca Mountain, an idea she believes should be scrapped.
Yucca Mountain, located in Nevada, was to be a repository for spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive waste until President Barack Obama stopped funding in 2010.
According to Patrick McGuire, a representative of DOE, spent nuclear fuel is fuel that has been removed from a reactor. Currently, SRS has a large inventory of research reactor spent nuclear fuel, McGuire said, but no commercial material such as that discussed during Monday’s meeting.
In light of the decision to cease funding for Yucca Mountain, Obama created the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, which recommended the nation find a suitable storage facility for multi-decade use.
The commission’s proposed date to open a repository is 2048, according to the draft recommendation presented during Monday’s meeting.
• Michael Ulmer covers the county government beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since March 2013. He is a native of North Augusta and majored in political science at the University of South Carolina.
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