published Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Advisory panel votes not to store nuclear waste at Savannah River Site

AIKEN, S.C. — A group that advises the U.S. Department of Energy voted Tuesday against storing nuclear waste at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.

The Citizens Advisory Board is planning to file an official position paper on the issue, according to the Aiken Standard.

In 2011, the Obama administration scuttled plans to use Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as a long-term waste storage facility. Congress is currently considering other permanent options, and Savannah River is being discussed as a potential interim storage site. Next week, a U.S. Senate committee is set to hold a hearing on the issue.

Spent nuclear fuel is already stored at Savannah River, and opponents fear that the site could become a permanent home for the waste. The 310-square-mile complex once produced plutonium and tritium for atomic bombs, but work there is now focused mostly on research and cleaning up contaminated areas.

The panel also voted to ask the Energy Department to outline its fuel disposal plans and to revisit the Yucca Mountain proposal.

Members also voted to restore full funding to the Energy Department’s 2014 fiscal year budget. The administration’s current proposal includes millions in cuts that some fear could mean hundreds of jobs lost at Savannah River.

The Citizens Advisory Board is scheduled to meet again in September in Savannah, Ga.

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