Women. Power. Peace.

Georgia residents advocate for environmental radiation monitoring at Savannah River Site Citizen’s Advisory Board meeting

Media Contact:
Courtney Hanson
Director of Organizing and Communication
courtney@georgiawand.org
308-631-8543

AUGUSTA- More than a dozen members of Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions from across the state will speak in favor of a recommendation to fund environmental radiation monitoring in Georgia at the Savannah River Site Citizen’s Advisory Board (SRS CAB) meeting, Monday January 27 and Tuesday January 28 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1065 Stevens Creek Road.

While the Savannah River Site does minimal monitoring in Georgia, the state itself as not had a robust independent monitoring program in place for nearly a decade. The Department of Energy does fund a monitoring program in South Carolina, carried out by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Georgia WAND members living near the Savannah River Site nuclear facility say they deserve to know what’s in their air, food and water. More than 400 people from across Georgia who wrote to the CAB and signed petitions urging the board to adopt the proposal.

“An independent monitoring program in Georgia is vital for protecting all communities in the CSRA,” Becky Rafter,Georgia WAND Executive Director said. “South Carolina has a great program that provides information to help South Carolina residents make informed choices. Georgia residents deserve the same respect and access to information.”

Results from Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s last radiation monitoring report, released in 2004, show elevated levels of radionuclide's in fish and vegetation and warned that people who have a diet high in fish and leafy vegetables may be at risk.

Community monitoring programs are standard at other DOE sites across the country including Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico and Hanford in Washington state, which monitors in both Washington and Oregon.

The Facilities Disposition and Site Remediation committee will discuss and vote on the proposal “Fund an Independent Environmental Monitoring Program in Georgia” Monday at 2:30. If it goes through the committee, the full CAB will vote on the recommendation Tuesday afternoon.

“The CAB has been very receptive to community concerns about environmental monitoring in Georgia and we hope that shows in the vote,” Rafter said. “We are optimistic that the trend of more Georgia residents involved in the SRS CAB will continue in 2014.”

Background
In 1989 Secretary of Energy, Admiral James Watkins, announced a 10-point initiative to improve accountability of the Department of Energy in the areas of environmental protection, public health and safety. DOE invited states to negotiate formal agreements to improve their environmental monitoring capabilities. The Savannah River Site then requested DOE headquarters’ approval of a monitoring and emergency response program for both South Carolina and Georgia. In 1993 DOE entered into Agreements in Principle for this monitoring and emergency preparedness program with South Carolina and Georgia. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency worked with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to implement the robust monitoring program.
The Georgia monitoring program helped maintain transparency and trust from the communities neighboring SRS for about a decade.

In fall of 2003 DOE informed Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division that their funding for this program would be terminated. Since this time, local community members and organizations have worked diligently with the state of Georgia as well as DOE headquarters to reinstate funding for robust monitoring in Georgia. Their efforts helped keep the program going until it ended in 2005. On April 13, 2010, DOE announced in a press release their intentions to offer the state of Georgia additional funds to resume their monitoring, testing and sampling program. As of the beginning of 2014, those funds have not been dispersed.

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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.

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