Gov. Henry McMaster should be alarmed that the federal government is considering Savannah River Site in Aiken for a modern plutonium-pit facility. In 1989 the production of plutonium pits was halted at Rocky Flats, Colo., due to radioactive contamination.
The plutonium needed for the pits, which are used in the creation of nuclear weapons, creates the worst of the fission byproducts: hazardous alpha emitters. Plutonium-239, the primary fissile isotope used in the manufacture of plutonium pits, has a half-life of 24,100 years. Not only is it dangerous; it is a horrible legacy for generations to come.
South Carolina faced the challenge in 2002 to keep plutonium-pit development out of the Savannah River Site when Concerned Citizens, Savannah River Site Watch, and other groups spoke out against a new nuclear weapons mission at the site. Savannah River Site is highly contaminated and will continue to require billions of dollars to clean up the current nuclear waste.
We didn’t want a new weapons role in 2002, and we definitely don’t want one now. Keep plutonium pits out of South Carolina.