A new watchdog group formed on Wednesday with plans to place tough scrutiny on a “problem-plagued” effort to turn bomb plutonium into electricity.
Activists said a key focus for their new organization would be lobbying for alternative methods of eliminating 34 tons of plutonium under an agreement with Russia. Their announcement came in the thick of a fight over an Obama administration bid to suspend work on the project, which is intended to convert the weapon material into mixed-oxide power plant fuel at South Carolina’s Savannah River Site.
“Our job will be to highlight to SRS programs that warrant public attention and involvement,” said Tom Clements, the new director of Savannah River Site Watch. He said the group would focus on gleaning “possible lessons to be learned” from the troubled mixed-oxide project, as well as backing proposals for other “plutonium disposition methods that reduce environmental risks to South Carolina and reduce costs to taxpayers.”
“It is the Department of Energy’s nature to operate outside public scrutiny,” he added in the group’s first news release.
An undisclosed Energy study reportedly concluded that the so-called “MOX” Fuel Fabrication Facility likely would cost between $25 billion and $30 billion to complete. Planning and construction efforts have cost $4 billion to date.
Frances Close, president of Savannah River Site Watch, said the new organization would consider a variety of additional “environmental problems and proliferation threats” associated with the South Carolina complex.
“We will follow and participate in all decision-making processes related to SRS cleanup programs as well as [the] National Nuclear Security Administration’s [other] projects” at the 310-square-mile facility, she said in Wednesday’s statement.
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"Wikileaks published more than 8,000 documents purportedly taken from the Democratic National Committee Friday, just days before the start of the party's convention in Philadelphia. The documents included briefings on off-the-record fundraisers and candid photographs."
Hillary Clinton "is widely expected to announce her choice" of vice president "in an email to supporters while on a campaign swing in Florida on Friday afternoon." The consensus: it'll be Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, although Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are also said to be in the running.
- A Rasmussen Reports poll shows Donald Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton, 43%-42%, the fourth week in a row he's led the poll (one of the few poll in which he's led consistently of late).
- A Reuters/Ipsos survey shows Clinton leading 40%-36%. In a four-way race, she maintains her four-point lead, 39%-35%, with Gary Johnson and Jill Stein pulling 7% and 3%, respectively.
- And the LA Times/USC daily tracking poll shows a dead heat, with Trump ahead by about half a percentage point.