SCIWAY News No. 67 – May 2009
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"SCIway on the Highway" Visits the Savannah River SiteMany people assume that since we are no longer involved in a Cold War, the Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken – known to generations of South Carolinians as "The Bomb Plant" – is closed for business.
Not so. In fact, SRS has been popping up in the news a lot lately. With the prospect of stimulus funds coming to our state, legislators and officials are looking at ways to capitalize on SRS facilities and space, which could, in turn, provide much needed jobs.
Specifically, they are looking at setting up a 2,700-acre "energy park" and opening a reprocessing plant. These plans are being met with opposition from citizen advocacy groups who contend that the health and environmental risks incurred would outweigh any advantages such endeavors might provide. These groups are also concerned about the extreme expense involved in reprocessing nuclear waste and believe it is an inappropriate use of taxpayer money.
In addition, a recent US Department of Energy (DOE) audit of SRS found several major safety issues, at least one of which, the report states, "could have resulted in a spill of up to 15,000 gallons of high-level radioactive waste."
Indeed, SRS remains an area of vital concern for South Carolina. As DOE explains, "Radioactive waste stored in SRS tanks poses the single greatest environmental risk in the state."
SCIway was able to get a rare glimpse of SRS this March, when we were media representatives on a guided tour of the plant. The plant is normally closed to the public, but you can visit it along with SCIway by viewing our Savannah River Site photo gallery. Each photo contains a detailed explanation of the scene, as well as information about issues related to the future of SRS. As you will discover, SRS is at an important crossroads, and the direction it takes could affect us all.
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