Editorial: New German waste another bad signal

  • Posted: Monday, July 7, 2014 12:01 a.m.

The possibility of more nuclear waste coming to Savannah River Site – this time from Germany – is another distressing sign that South Carolina is becoming a dumping ground for such material.

The Department of Energy, which oversees the Site, recently proposed to accept, process and dispose of used nuclear fuel from the European country, which contains approximately 900 kilograms of uranium. That equates to 1 million baseball-sized graphite spheres of highly enriched uranium coming to the Palmetto State with no end in sight for when it will leave.

The Citizens Advisory Board, which helps to provide feedback to the Department of Energy, has strongly recommended the agency not accept additional shipments of foreign nuclear material.

We urged the department to follow their recommendation. We’ve seen the Site already accept too many foreign shipments with little belief that they will ever be moved to a different storage facility.

This continues an ongoing broken promise to South Carolina, and Aiken County, where Yucca Mountain in Nevada was supposed to be the permanent repository for such material.

Instead, the Palmetto State has earned that designation by default.

Most nuclear waste material was intended to go to the site located near Las Vegas, but President Barack Obama scratched those plans for reasons that reek of politics.

Now, our state is continually threatened with becoming the dumping ground for waste. While it may have its economic benefits, the environmental and health risks of any kind of mishap far outweigh any financial profit.

The German uranium program began as part of the Atoms for Peace Program under former President Dwight D. Eisenhower in order to make the material available to countries that wanted it for research.

The agreement stated that the U.S. was to take the uranium back; that’s why the Site is being considered as a destination.

We urge the public to send input to the department by emailing Drew Grainger, National Environmental Policy Act compliance officer, at Drew.Grainger@srs.gov.

There appears to be no path toward disposing of this material, and the more our state accepts, the clearer it becomes that we’re open to becoming a permanent dumping ground.

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