Environmental and Community groups advocate for cleanup at SRS, against MOX
For Immediate Release
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Courtney Hanson, Georgia WAND Public Outreach Director
(404) 524-5999 office, (308) 631-8543 direct
Georgia and South Carolina — Today leading environmental groups, community stakeholders and residents living near the Savannah River Site Cold War era nuclear weapons complex are standing up for their best interests, in contrast to elected officials who are disregarding community needs.
The groups, including Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (Georgia WAND), Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff, Friends of the Earth and Nuclear Watch South and their members are pushing back against a letter backing the problematic and unsuccessful MOX plutonium fuel program. In the letter, Sens Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) scolded President Obama today for ‘slowing down’ the MOX project.
“Now is the time to put the ill conceived MOX program to bed and focus on what really matters to us all and that is to ensure clean air, healthy waterways and food free of contamination.” Becky Rafter, Georgia WAND Executive Director said.
Rafter’s group says funding MOX distracts from cleanup, the most important mission of SRS, noting the MOX project is riddled with false promises and problems including a lack of job creation, a dearth of customers for the MOX fuel, unchecked squandering of tax dollars and the failure to fulfill treaty obligations.
“The question is: what jobs are the Senators talking about? They have failed to identify if they’re local, how many there are, and whether they’re permanent,” said the Rev. Willie Tomlin member of Georgia WAND and Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff. “If our elected officials are going to justify polluting our communities by bringing up jobs, they need to start being forthcoming.
Touting MOX as a jobs program is misleading; the community understands the health risks of the program outweigh any potential job creation—which is shaky at best, because there is no demand for the fuel.
“Instead of trying to block the Department of Energy’s review of the MOX program, which is far over-budget and has no clients, Sen. Graham should be calling for an investigation into the gross mismanagement of taxpayer dollars.” Tom Clements, Southeastern Nuclear Campaigns Coordinator, Friends of the Earth said. “Friends of the Earth calculated a budget-busting $22 billion is left to be spent on the MOX program. This underscores the DOE’s need to develop cheaper, safer options for disposition of plutonium as nuclear waste.”
Questions remain over whether this publicly funded project will even meet the milestones needed to fulfill treaty obligations and security measures, which the Senators claim MOX addresses.
“We are well acquainted with the serious plutonium security gaps remaining unaddressed in years of licensing review,” Glenn Carroll, coordinator of Nuclear Watch South, said. “This program won’t satisfy U.S. treaty obligations if the fuel is never irradiated in a reactor, anyway. Our legal intervention at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission exposed uncertainties in tracking plutonium inventory.”
Georgia WAND is a women-led organization that seeks to direct women's voices into a powerful movement for social change. We work to reduce militarism and violence and redirect excessive military spending toward unmet human and environmental needs.