Citizens board says no fuel storage at SRS

Staff photo by Derrek Asberry CAB members voted against interim storage of spent fuel during Tuesday's meeting

A substantial majority of the Citizens Advisory Board took a stance against the interim storage of spent fuel at the Savannah River Site during Tuesday's meeting.

The decision came with 17 board members opposing interim storage and six members voting to withhold from taking a position.

“I'm very happy with the process, and I feel like we took a lot of time to receive public input and raise the visibility of the CAB,” said waste committee member Ed Burke. “I will admit that there were a lot of good arguments on the other side; but I feel like this a victory for the CAB and a victory for the public.”

The Citizens Advisory Board will cement its stance by filing an official position paper. However, it will not file a recommendation with the Department of Energy.

According to Burke, the belief is that filing with the Department of Energy would result in a statement that would prove unfavorable.

“Our concern is that submitting a recommendation with the Department of Energy would've resulted in a statement that it was 'outside the purview' of the CAB,” Burke explained. “This is because it doesn't relate to clean up of the Site. So the position paper makes more sense in terms of canvassing the position of the CAB.”

In addition to the interim storage vote, the Citizens Advisory Board took a stance against the FY 2014 proposed federal budget, which could potentially cut $100 million from the Site. The board is in favor of requesting all of its funding with no cuts to the budget, which could result in the loss of more than 600 jobs.

“We approved the budget position statement which simply said that we support DOE in trying to get more money for the FY14 budget,” said Don Bridges, the Citizens Advisory Board chair. “The statement basically suggests that we need to restore full funding.”

Finally, the board approved three recommendations that will be filed with the Department of Energy: one that would transition the spent fuel in the Site's L Reactor from wet storage to dry storage; another for the Department of Energy to outline the disposal of spent fuel as well as the progress of the program; and a final one to revisit Yucca Mountain as a storage facility for commercial fuel.

“It's all wrapped around using Yucca Mountain as a storage facility,” Bridges added.

The next official Citizens Advisory Board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 23 and 24 in Savannah, Ga.

Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a journalism degree in May 2012.