South Carolina Radioactive Cleanup Decades Behind Schedule

Global Security Newswire Staff
See more stories about...
Global Security Newswire Staff
Dec. 3, 2013, 7:02 a.m.

An En­ergy De­part­ment pro­ject to dis­pose of the ra­dio­act­ive waste pro­duced by nuc­le­ar-weapons pro­duc­tion work in South Car­o­lina is dec­ades be­hind sched­ule, the New York Times re­por­ted late last week.

Be­gun in 1996, the pro­ject at the Sa­van­nah River Site aims to sta­bil­ize the li­quid waste by so­lid­i­fy­ing it in­to a form that can­not be dis­solved. While the nuc­le­ar cleanup ef­fort was ini­tially pre­dicted to be com­pleted 25 years later, of­fi­cials now say it will not be fin­ished be­fore well in­to the 2040s. By that time, the sub­ter­ranean con­tain­ers that are hold­ing the nuc­le­ar waste will be 90 years old.

“I don’t know what the tanks’ design life was in­ten­ded to be, but it’s not for in­fin­ity,” Cath­er­ine Tem­pleton, dir­ect­or of South Car­o­lina’s Health and En­vir­on­ment­al Con­trol De­part­ment told the Times.

She said the stor­age ves­sels have de­veloped leaks and could threaten the nearby ground­wa­ter.

South Car­o­lina has warned that it could levy $154 mil­lion in fines on the U.S. gov­ern­ment for not keep­ing to its own sched­ule for dis­pos­ing of the waste. The dis­pos­i­tion plan calls for the ra­dio­act­ive ma­ter­i­al to be com­bined with li­quid glass and then for the mix­ture to be poured in­to steel con­tain­ers.

DOE of­fi­cials in turn have blamed the sched­ule slip­page on in­suf­fi­cient funds provided by Con­gress thanks to a 2011 lim­it on de­fense spend­ing and the 2011 Budget Con­trol Act.

“There’s only so much to go around,” said Ter­rel Spears, a DOE waste-dis­pos­i­tion of­fi­cial in South Car­o­lina. “We can’t in­crease the budgets. Now we have to bal­ance the budgets.”

South Car­o­lina of­fi­cials con­tend that some of the fed­er­al fund­ing that should have gone to the Sa­van­nah River Site cleanup was in­stead giv­en to an­oth­er nuc­le­ar-weapons waste dis­pos­i­tion pro­ject at the Han­ford Site in Wash­ing­ton.

This art­icle was pub­lished in Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire, which is pro­duced in­de­pend­ently by Na­tion­al Journ­al Group un­der con­tract with the Nuc­le­ar Threat Ini­ti­at­ive. NTI is a non­profit, non­par­tis­an group work­ing to re­duce glob­al threats from nuc­le­ar, bio­lo­gic­al, and chem­ic­al weapons.

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Maher Weighs in on Bernie, Trump and Palin
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.

Source:
×