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Plutonium processingNew group formed to monitor Savannah River Site, nuclear waste issues in SE U.S.

Published 7 April 2014

Savannah River Site Watch (SRS Watch), a new public-interest watchdog group, was launched last week in what it said was a response to the need for increased monitoring of the nuclear projects carried out by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The group says it has been formed to focus on an array of nuclear projects now underway at Savannah River Site (SRS), the sprawling 310-square mile complex located near Aiken, South Carolina.

Savannah River Site Watch (SRS Watch), a new public-interest watchdog group, was launched last week in what it said was a response to the need for increased monitoring of the nuclear projects carried out by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The group says it has been formed to focus on an array of nuclear projects now underway at Savannah River Site (SRS), the sprawling 310-square mile complex located near Aiken, South Carolina. SRS Watch says that while actively engaging in the decision-making process and adopting formal positions concerning site activities, it will closely monitor such programs as cleanup of high-level nuclear waste, receipt of nuclear materials from overseas without proper environmental review, operation of the aging H-Canyon reprocessing plant, and what the group describes as the mismanaged plutonium fuel (MOX) program. SRS Watch will also follow congressional deliberations concerning funding of DOE proposals.

SRS Watch says it will keep an eye on other nuclear issues in the region as well, including construction of the new AP1000 reactors in South Carolina (SCE&G’s V.C. Summer site) and Georgia (Southern Company’s Vogtle site), spent fuel storage and reprocessing, small modular reactors, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission activities related to these issues.

“Given the host of environmental problems and proliferation threats associated with the Savannah River Site, we felt it was time to increase public interest monitoring efforts by creating a new oversight organization,” said Frances Close, president of SRS Watch. “We will follow and participate in all decision-making processes related to SRS cleanup programs as well as DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s projects at SRS, including the MOX program. We will advocate for essential cleanup programs and challenge DOE and NNSA on projects that are unnecessary, ill-conceived, and a waste of tax dollars.” The work of SRS Watch will be similar to the work of the Energy Research Foundation, a group which acted as a watchdog over SRS activities for fifteen years.

SRS Watch has been incorporated in South Carolina and is a project of Fairewinds Energy Education, a non-profit organization working to further public understanding of nuclear power and related safety issues.

As part of the announcement of SRS Watch, the group’s Web site went public last week. The Web site will feature blogs on SRS and other nuclear issues, hard-to-find documents, photos of nuclear activities, and new releases on current issues. Audio and video of DOE and Nuclear Regulatory Commission meetings, and other events of interest, will be posted in the future.

SRS Watch noted it will collaborate with the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability

In order to magnify the work on DOE, NNSA, and SRS issues, SRS Watch said it will seek formal association with the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a network of more than thirty local, regional, and national groups representing the concerns of communities in neighboring U.S. nuclear weapons complex facilities and radioactive waste dumps.