The Waste Management Committee of the Citizens Advisory Board to the Department of Energy at its Savannah River Site voted (Monday) to recommend no spent power plant fuel storage be allowed at the DOE’s South Carolina facility. This recommendation will be transmitted to the executive committee of the Citizens Advisory Board (CAB) prior to the Waste Management (WMC) Committee’s next regularly scheduled meeting on July 22 and the full Board’s meeting in North Augusta on July 23. Details of scheduled meeting times as well as information about the CAB can be found at the CAB’s web site, http://cab.srs.gov/srs-cab.html.
The Waste Management Committee meeting began promptly at 6:00 PM at the DOE (Department of Energy) Meeting Center, 230 Village Green Blvd., Suite 220 just outside of Aiken SC off Silver Bluff Road. WMC’s Chairman Ed Burke opened the meeting by welcoming the 60 plus public attendees that filled the room to capacity and by describing the reason for the meeting as being to determine which of two alternatives concerning spent nuclear wastes from power plants the WMC would be recommending to the CAB’s executive committee. The alternatives were: 1) Do not accept any spent nuclear wastes from power plants or, 2) Accept spent nuclear wastes from power plants for temporary storage provided economic incentives to the local area were significant and sufficient and the CAB was made part of the consent process.
Before the determination was considered, the chairman of the CAB, Dr. Donald Bridges attempted to discuss a third option. Mr. Burke quickly made clear that a third option was D.O.A. since the express purpose of the meeting was to decide between the two previously determined options. Still, Dr. Bridges did point out a number of considerations why option 2 should not necessarily be ruled out, as well as counseling against acting prematurely. Following Dr. Bridges comments, the meeting returned to consideration of the two alternatives.
Comments from WMC members were taken. Dr. Hayes began with a statement in support of alternative 1. Chairman Burke discussed a number of considerations, some of which were the Yucca Mountain situation and an apparent change from scientific determination to political determination, the fact that “temporary” is not all that “temporary,” and questions about “transparency” or lack of same in current regulatory processes. Additional comments were taken from committee members before comments from the public were taken.
By this reporter’s count, thirty-three comments were taken from members of the public. The comments covered a broad range of preferences for the given proposals as well as positions totally unrelated. One commenter, quoting sections of the CAB’s charter, stated the CAB did not have the authority even to make a recommendation of the given nature. Two others flatly rejected both alternatives stating what was needed was to invalidate the decision to terminate the Yucca Mountain project.
Comments were received from interested citizens from adjacent counties, cities, or simply from property owners near the plant. Comments were received from citizens as far away as Atlanta. Comments were made on behalf of individuals, families, or by interested organizations.
While some comments were brief and to the point, comments from organizations were often cut short due to time constraints. Suzanne Rhodes of the League of Women Voters made a brief comment and left a copy of the League’s position paper supporting “option A” (alternative 1.) Chris Hall, Vice Chairman of the SC Branch of the Sierra Club raised the question of “consent” asking, “What does this mean?” (Considering the credibility of the CAB) and suggested simply saying “we don’t want the stuff.” (Or words to that effect.) Another vote for alternative 1, wouldn’t you say? All in all, of the thirty-three public commenters, nineteen favored alternative 1, eight were for alternative 2, and six were indeterminate.
The committee was then polled. According to Chairman Burke, twelve members favored alternative 1 and ten favored alternative two. Alternative one it is. The position paper describing the WMC’s decision will be forwarded to the CAB’s executive committee prior to the CAB committee meetings on July 22, according to Chairman Burke who then, at 7:52 (Examiner time) adjourned the meeting.
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