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Concern about nuclear waste shipments to South Carolina

Among the materials with no disposition plan include weapons-grade plutonium, depleted uranium oxide, highly enriched uranium and heavy water.

Specifics about the quantity and timetables were redacted from the report. Lastly, the DOE report states that there is no disposition path for surplus plutonium stored at K-Area.

The DOE’s short-term strategy of continuing nuclear shipments to SRS runs counter to South Carolina’s long-held aversion to the state becoming a dumping ground for nuclear waste.

More nuclear shipments to Savannah River Site likely, report says http://www.aikenstandard.com/news/more-nuclear-shipments-to-savannah-river-site-likely-report-says/article_4a380b86-13db-11e7-87c8-c3869ab88afe.html By Michael Smith msmith@aikenstandard.com Mar 28, 2017  Shipments of plutonium and other nuclear materials are expected to continue to the Savannah River Site in Aiken County for the foreseeable future, according to government records released by a watchdog group.

The latest data dump from SRS Watch includes the 2016 SRS Nuclear Materials Management Plan the group said it obtained through the Federal Freedom of Information Act.

Documents confirm that plutonium from Japan, Germany and Switzerland was shipped to the site last year, as previously reported by the Aiken Standard. The 2016 report further states the U.S. Department of Energy plans further shipments of plutonium, uranium and tritium, with some shipments expected to continue for 18 years.

“The most significant issue with respect to the current inventory of SNM (spent nuclear material) at SRS is the lack of an assigned disposition path for certain SNF (spent nuclear fuel) and plutonium materials,” the report says.

Among the materials with no disposition plan include weapons-grade plutonium, depleted uranium oxide, highly enriched uranium and heavy water.

Further, only a portion of spent nuclear fuel stored at L-Area is approved for processing at H Canyon, the report continues.

L-Area is where high and low enriched uranium used fuel is stored. H Canyon downblends this waste into low enriched uranium, which is then used to fuel Tennessee Valley Authority reactors, according to the SRS website.

Additionally, more foreign and domestic materials are expected to be shipped to L-Area through 2019 and 2035, respectively, the DOE report states.

Specifics about the quantity and timetables were redacted from the report. Lastly, the DOE report states that there is no disposition path for surplus plutonium stored at K-Area.

Options for disposing of surplus plutonium are limited. Construction of the Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada halted a few years ago, while the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico also isn’t equipped to handle SRS materials.

The long-term strategy for disposing of defense plutonium remains completion of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, or MOX, which would convert waste into fuel for commercial reactors.

MOX, though, is only reportedly 70 percent complete, billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule……

The DOE’s short-term strategy of continuing nuclear shipments to SRS runs counter to South Carolina’s long-held aversion to the state becoming a dumping ground for nuclear waste.

SRS Watch Director Tom Clements said in prepared comments the DOE report illustrates why importing nuclear materials to the site must cease.

“While it is clear that DOE hopes to maintain SRS as a site that receives and processes an array of nuclear materials, that role is clearly diminishing and continues to distract from the all-important clean-up mission at SRS,” Clements said in a statement. n recent years, MOX has only received minimal funding from Congress. The DOE assessment says this trend must change.

“Decisions/funding need to be made on the appropriate disposition path; which will include processing for use as mixed oxide fuel, another use, or a waste disposition,” the DOE report states.

The DOE’s short-term strategy of continuing nuclear shipments to SRS runs counter to South Carolina’s long-held aversion to the state becoming a dumping ground for nuclear waste.

SRS Watch Director Tom Clements said in prepared comments the DOE report illustrates why importing nuclear materials to the site must cease.

“While it is clear that DOE hopes to maintain SRS as a site that receives and processes an array of nuclear materials, that role is clearly diminishing and continues to distract from the all-important clean-up mission at SRS,” Clements said in a statement.

“More effort must be put into a permanent and near-term halt to the inflow of nuclear materials into SRS and the development of acceptable disposition paths for hard-to-manage materials already at the site,” the statement continued.

A federal judge recently ruled that the DOE failed to abide by legal obligations to remove or dispose of 1 metric ton of defense plutonium per year from SRS.

But the March 20 order doesn’t impose any sanctions for missing that milestone, nor does it prevent the continued flow of nuclear materials into Aiken County.

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March 29, 2017 - Posted by | safety, USA, wastes

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