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Secret shipment of radioactive spent nuclear fuel to South Carolina

This shipment of research reactor fuel to SRS in no way means that the public is open to receipt of highly radioactive commercial spent fuel from U.S. nuclear reactors for consolidated storage at SRS, which some narrow special interests are eyeing

Radioactive Spent Fuel Containing Bomb-Grade Uranium Arriving at SRS  http://aikenleader.villagesoup.com/blog/blogpost/radioactive-spent-fuel-containing-bomb-grade-uranium-arriving-at-srs/881381
By Thomas Clements | Aug 09, 2012  A secretive shipment of radioactive spent research reactor fuel containing highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Germany is soon to arrive at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, South Carolina, where it will be indefinitely stored.  The shipment is likely to be transiting the Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, South Carolina.

The nuclear transport ship Oceanic Pintail departed the German port of Nordenham on July 25, believed to be carrying spent fuel from two German research reactors.  The shipment of 25 assemblies from the FRG-1 reactor and 33 assemblies from the BER-2 reactor are reported by German media to be on the ship, with the casks in one shipping container.  It has also been reported that a plutonium-beryllium radiation source from former East Germany is on board, though the purpose of this source and why it would be brought to the United States is unknown.

At SRS, the spent fuel would be taken to the old L-Reactor, where such research reactor fuel is stored in the pool, or basin, at the shuttered reactor.

Receipt of the spent fuel is part of the DOE’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), a program aimed at recovering US-supplied bomb-grade uranium.  The spent, or irradiated fuel, is defined by DOE as high-level nuclear waste.
“We support DOE’s pursuit of long-term storage of research reactor spent fuel in dry casks at SRS rather than the expensive reprocessing of it, which expands the volume of liquid high-level nuclear waste to be managed,” said Tom Clements, Nonproliferation Policy Director with the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), based in Columbia, South Carolina.  ANA is a network of 35 local, regional and national organizations representing the concerns of communities in the shadows of the U.S. nuclear weapons sites and radioactive waste dumps.

The Oceanic Pintail is an armed commercial vessel formerly named the Pacific Pintail.  The ship has a long history of shipping controversial nuclear materials associated with the reprocessing of commercial spent fuel at the Sellafield facility in the United Kingdom.  Reprocessing of foreign spent fuel at Sellafield has proved to be a failure as the THORP reprocessing plant has never operated as designed.

DOE has refused to comment on the shipment in spite of it its movement being known by public interest groups in Germany and having been reported by German media.

“On arrival of the material at SRS, we call on DOE to fully explain what material has been received and why,” said ANA’s Clements.  “DOE’s news blackout on the shipment serves no security goals as the movement of the shipment by sea and by rail from Charleston is relatively easy to observe even by those untrained members of the public.  It appears that DOE’s silence about the shipment is simply aimed at keeping the public uninformed.” A list of research reactor fuel to be received at SRS can be seen in a presentation to the SRS Citizens Advisory Board in July 2011:  SRS Used Nuclear Fuel Management http://www.srs.gov/general/outreach/srs-cab/library/meetings/2011/fb/201107_unf.pdf

“This shipment of research reactor fuel to SRS in no way means that the public is open to receipt of highly radioactive commercial spent fuel from U.S. nuclear reactors for consolidated storage at SRS, which some narrow special interests are eyeing,” said Clements.  “South Carolinians and Georgians will vigorously oppose making SRS the de facto Yucca Mountain high-level waste dump while a few profit and we bear the environmental risks and costs. This is a dangerous scheme to which the public will not consent.”

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. (http://www.ananuclear.org/AboutANA/25YearsofGrassrootsOrganizing/tabid/108/Default.aspx)

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August 10, 2012 - Posted by | USA, wastes

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