“The high level radioactive liquid waste stored in aging tanks at the Savannah River Site (SRS) poses the single largest environmental threat in South Carolina,” according to Gov. Nikki Haley in an Aug. 28 letter to the Department of Energy (DOE).
The League of Women Voters of South Carolina has been expressing concern for more than 30 years regarding these once-ignored defense-related tanks. Although the oldest tanks with the worst history for leaking have been closed, the job is far from finished.
Eight of the 47 remaining tanks are partially or completely exposed to groundwater and present clear risks for leaking. For several months DHEC representatives have been asking DOE representatives at public meetings to pursue SRS cleanup schedules with a sustainable DOE budget request.
In its recent budget request, DOE proposed a $135 million reduction to the SRS cleanup program, despite long-standing schedule and budget agreements.
That is about 20 percent less than the agreement budget; other states’ cleanup programs are proposed to receive as much as a 20 percent increase, despite having less successful programs.
DOE intends to ask DHEC for new, relaxed cleanup schedules rather than provide necessary budget requests or pay agreed-upon penalties to South Carolina for missing established cleanup schedules.
The penalties could amount to almost as much as the budget reduction. The tricky Salt Waste Processing Facility is pivotal to waste treatment, tank closure, and site management goals. The decreased budget would seriously slow this critical program.
Gov. Haley reported last week that she will not “compromise the future of our state by moving the goal posts. We intend to fully enforce all milestones.”
The League of Women Voters of South Carolina appreciates the governor’s stance on this issue, which is vital to health and safety of the citizens of both South Carolina and Georgia.
League of Women Voters S.C.
Marsh Creek Drive
Nuclear Board Specialist
Ballentine Estates Road