South Carolina has huge quantities of toxic, radioactive waste buried at the Barnwell low-level waste dump. At the Savannah River Site, 45 huge tanks hold 37 million gallons of unstable, highly radioactive liquid waste waiting to be vitrified or solidified to a safer state; completing this task could take at least 20 years if the federal government fully funded it.
So excuse us if we are incredulous at the suggestion that Aiken should welcome 70,000 more tons of highly radioactive, spent fuel rods for “interim storage.” Did I mention that “interim” would be for 60 to 100 years and that accepting stockpiles of spent rods would open the door to a continual stream of toxic waste from reactors all over the country until, well … forever, as far as we mere humans are concerned.
Years ago, then-Gov. Dick Riley stated the rule about nuclear waste: It stays where it is put.
Many of us live in Aiken because our families came here to work at the bomb plant. We have been patient patriots. Our families supported the country’s weapons efforts during the Cold War, and we are still living with the resulting waste. We just don’t feel comfortable with allowing more waste under the guise of “interim” and the passing of this burden to future generations.
It’s time to demand accountability and funding to finish the clean-up at SRS. It’s time for our national government to honor its agreement with South Carolina and remove and store all high-level radioactive waste in an appropriate long-term — 1,000 years or more — geologically stable storage location. Until then, we cannot reasonably support any further waste storage here.
The 70 million tons of commercial spent nuclear fuel can stay in hardened, dry-cask storage at existing reactor sites while we all push for the federal government to find the appropriate final repository site.
We may look like we are easy to fool, but we understand that if South Carolina agrees to solve every other state’s nuclear problem, every other state’s congressional delegation is relieved of dealing with this onerous waste. Please visit facebook.com/DontWasteAiken, and please ask our governor and members of our own delegation to reject any interim solution that leaves South Carolina out in the cold. Let them know that there is no deal sweet enough to merit letting a wasted Aiken become a de facto Yucca Mountain.