The U.S. Department of Energy has extended the window in which the public can comment on potential plans to remove radioactive waste from the Savannah River Site and ship it across the country for disposal.
The comment period now runs through Feb. 10, 2020. The prior deadline was Jan. 9 – an extra 32 days.
Written comments about the plans, announced earlier this year, can be emailed to DWPFEA@em.doe.gov or mailed to James Joyce, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20585.
The extension follows multiple requests to do so. During a Dec. 17 informational meeting in Augusta, officials said they had been asked to extend the comment timeframe and were considering the matter.
The Energy Department is mulling a trio of plans that involve retrieving up to 10,000 gallons of radioactive waste – Defense Waste Processing Facility wastewater – from the Savannah River Site tank farms, treating it, and disposing of it outside South Carolina, namely in Texas or Utah.
A preliminary government analysis, published earlier this month, found the three plans would have little to no negative influence on the environment or the public.
The Savannah River Site-specific plans, still under review, are coupled with the DOE's decision earlier this year to reinterpret the definition of high-level radioactive waste.
For years, the Energy Department defined waste by its source or provenance. Now, radioactivity – what's in it, as DOE Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar has said – will be chief among the considerations. That ruling brings the U.S. in line with international practice.