Aiken-area business leaders say the Savannah River Site may become the nation's high-level nuclear waste dumping ground if the federal government drops plans for a disposal site in Nevada.
But the SRS Community Reuse Organization says shelving the Yucca Mountain site is a bad idea, and it says the nation now needs to figure out how to dispose of high-level nuclear waste. The group's mission supports job creation in the five counties around SRS, a 300-square mile nuclear weapons site.
Aiken, Augusta and surrounding communities could suffer a bad image if the waste is left at SRS, making it harder to recruit industry, the reuse organization said in a statement Monday. It is calling for a special blue-ribbon panel to study options for disposing of waste.
"The government's about-face on this critical issue leaves state and local leaders with more questions than answers," David Jameson, the reuse organization's vice chair, said. "The Federal government has broken faith with communities across the nation. It has violated its promise to provide permanent storage of nuclear waste. As a result, we must come to terms with our own lingering - perhaps permanent - role as caretaker for a large part of the nation's highly radioactive defense waste."
Congress recently cut funding for the Yucca Mountain site, signaling what could be the end of the long-running, multi-billion dollar project. Yucca is a hollowed-out mountain near Las Vegas that was to permanently store high-level waste from both nuclear power plants and atomic weapons sites, including SRS. But Nevada residents have fought the plan, saying the site wasn't safe.
Thousands of cans of high-level nuclear waste from SRS were to be disposed of at Yucca Mountain. Power companies that operate nuclear plants across the nation also planned to use Yucca Mountain, rather than storing high-level waste on site.
- Sammy Fretwell