DOE to Restore Funding – Press Release
News Media Contact: For Immediate Release
Nichole Arnault, (404) 524-5999 Tuesday, April 13, 2010
DOE to restore funding to Georgia Environmental Protection Division for Radiation Surveillance along Savannah River, ending 6 year hiatus
(Atlanta, GA) Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) is thrilled to report that its six-year pursuit to restore federal funds to monitor levels of radiation released into Georgia from the Savannah River Site has proven successful. Today the Department of Energy (DOE) definitively stated its intention to restore environmental monitoring funds to Georgia in a news release issued by the Savannah River Site. (see media release below) Georgia WAND applauds DOE Environmental Management’s decision to support an independent monitoring program to better protect, inform, and engage downwind and downstream Georgia communities impacted by Savannah River Site.
“I am relieved that those living in counties directly across from the Savannah River Site will benefit from what Georgia EPD promises will be a model program for sampling and testing of soil, leafy greens, fish, deer, milk, corn, peanuts, pecans, pear, sediments, surface and groundwater, rain, air, and the Savannah River itself,” stated Dianne Valentin, a Georgia WAND member who has been working with residents of the Shell Bluff community for over three years
In November of 2003, DOE terminated funding for such monitoring, essentially dissolving a ten-year partnership with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division. Georgia WAND immediately mounted a citizen’s campaign to pressure Governor Sonny Perdue, South Carolina and Georgia Congressional delegations, and the then DOE Secretary, Spencer Abraham, to reconsider. Problematically for the state of Georgia, DOE’s response continued to be, “We fund South Carolina and to fund Georgia would be redundant.”
The issue finally gained momentum in June of 2009 when Dr Inés Triay, the newly appointed DOE Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, met with citizens and SRS officials in North Augusta, SC. Dr. Triay encouraged Georgia WAND and its members to coordinate with her staff to see that Georgia received its fair share of support for environmental monitoring.
In July of 2009, Georgia WAND met with DOE officials in Washington to move the process forward. Unfortunately, the issue continued to stall for another eight months. In March of 2010, Annie Laura Stephens, a Georgia WAND member from the greatly affected Shell Bluff Community, and Georgia WAND Executive Director, Bobbie Paul met with Dr. Triay at DOE headquarters as part of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s DC Days. At that time, Dr. Triay recommitted to her promise to re-institute the lapsed Georgia monitoring program – independent of SRS directives - and instructed her staff to facilitate implementation.
“We thank Dr. Triay for recognizing that radiation does not acknowledge state boundaries and that Georgians living in close proximity to the Savannah River Site have a right to know how radionuclide emissions may be impacting their health and the environment,” stated Bobbie Paul, Executive Director of Georgia WAND.
SAVANNAH RIVER OPERATIONS OFFICE
AIKEN, SC 29802
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jim Giusti, DOE, (803) 952-7697 Tuesday, April 13, 2010
DOE Announces Intention to Offer State of Georgia Additional Environmental Monitoring Funds
AIKEN, SC – The Department of Energy (DOE) today announced its intention to fund additional independent environmental monitoring of the Savannah River Site (SRS) by the State of Georgia.
Through its grant program, DOE’s Savannah River Operations Office will provide the Georgia Department of Natural Resources financial assistance to conduct independent environmental monitoring in Georgia communities bordering SRS to validate that site operations are having no negative effects on human health or the environment.
"We are offering the State of Georgia environmental monitoring funding to provide its residents additional information on the impacts of our operations at the Savannah River Site," said Dr. Ines Triay, DOE’s Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management. "We are striving to be a good neighbor to all residents around our sites."
DOE plans to request a grant proposal from GA DNR this month to negotiate a funding amount and a timeline for the assistance.
Theindependent environmental monitoring by the host and neighboring states is in addition to an extensive monitoring program currently conducted by SRS. The SRS environmental monitoring program is operated by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, the DOE's management and operating contractor at SRS. Sampling includes surface water, sediments, crops, milk, fish, soil, vegetation, thermoluminescent dosimeters, and groundwater in both states. DOE also provides financial assistance to the City of Savannah, GA, for monitoring drinking water from the Savannah River and the state of South Carolina to conduct independent environmental monitoring program.