Nuclear Materials Committee members expressed concern at a meeting on Tuesday over the storing of highly enriched uranium – or HEU – at the Savannah River Site.
The committee falls under the Citizens Advisory Board.
In addition to materials already at the Site, SRS may be receiving the shipments as part of international agreements with Canada and Germany.
Committee Chair Rose Hayes said the board will have to question the Department of Energy on sufficient storage space.
“Given that we keep receiving language about incoming material, this CAB has to say, ‘You have to do something with it,'” she said. “If we can't put it in wet storage because we're running out of space, and dry casking is too expensive, what are the options and cost comparisons for H Canyon processing?”
Patrick McGuire, from DOE, said the Department is moving toward making a decision on storage. He added that if processed through H Canyon, the waste would generate several canisters of material in a safe form until a federal repository is made for them.
“That would be one step closer to a final disposition path,” McGuire said.
During the public comment period, Friends of the Earth member Tom Clements presented more in-depth information about the German shipments of uranium. Clements, along with others, expressed concerns over the openness of DOE.
“I don't think I should be the one informing you. It's my opinion that DOE should explain to you what those materials are and how they may be processed at SRS,” Clements told the committee. “Even though no decision has been made, things have been moving, and I just wonder why the CAB has not been informed about the massive volume of uranium.”
In addition to the HEU program, the committee also expressed frustrations over its ability to vote and suggest recommendations. For example, the CAB recently recommended that DOE consider Yucca Mountain as a site repository.
DOE responded that the issue is not within the purview of the Office of Environmental Management, which also keeps it out of the purview of the CAB.
Committee member Bill Calhoun said the issue is frustrating for CAB members.
“The frustration that many of us in the CAB is that we're in this gray area all the time in remedying the issues at SRS,” Calhoun said. “I know it's frustrating for SRS employees and for the community.”
In response, McGuire agreed to develop a future presentation on what falls under the CAB's jurisdiction.
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard.
He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @ DerrekAsberry.