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Georgia WAND action leads to historic victory in Central Savannah River Area.

For Immediate Release
Monday, January 17, 2014

Contact
Courntey Hanson, Director of Organizing and Communication
courtney@georgiawand.org
404-524-5999

Georgia WAND's efforts leading up to the January 27 Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board meeting results in 16-3 vote favoring a recommendation for environmental radiation monitoring in Georgia

AUGUSTA-Georgia residents are closer to having access to information about contaminants in their food and water after the Savannah River Site Citizen's Advisory Board (SRS CAB) voted overwhelmingly yesterday to approve an official recommendation urging the Department of Energy to help Georgia fund an environmental radiation monitoring program.

cab victory

Georgia WAND members celebrate after CAB votes to recommend DOE funding for environmental monitoring in Georgia.

More than a dozen member-leaders of Georgia Women's Action for New Directions (Georgia WAND) from across the state attended the CAB meeting and 11 spoke in favor of the proposal during discussions, Monday Jan. 27 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1065 Stevens Creek Road.

Prior to the hearing over 400 Georgians wrote the CAB and signed petitions urging the them to adopt the proposal, which was originally drafted in the Facilities Disposition and Site Remediation Committee with the support of Georgia WAND.

"This is about protecting all communities in Georgia, including the often overlooked rural communities near the Savannah River Site," Georgia WAND's Director of Organizing and Communication Courtney Hanson said at the meeting.

Hanson mobilized Georgia WAND members around this issue and helped educate the CAB about local concerns. She gave a presentation about environmental monitoring co-designed with several local community members to the SRS CAB at their July 2013 meeting.

"South Carolina has a great monitoring program that helps residents make informed choices. Georgia residents deserve the very same respect and access to information," she said.

Georgia WAND has led efforts to reinstate environmental monitoring in Georgia for several years. The Department of Energy committed to funding the program in 2010; however, funds were not dispersed.

The CAB's support is a major key in getting the program reinstated.

"The CAB has been receptive to community concerns about environmental monitoring in Georgia," Georgia WAND Executive Director, Becky Rafter, said. "We are optimistic that this vote will augment our efforts building toward an environmental monitoring program that will protect the health and safety of all Georgia residents."

The recommendation, which requires an official response from the Department of Energy (DOE), asks the DOE to initiate conversations about the monitoring program with the state of Georgia by April 2014, with intent to begin the program no later than 2016.

While the Savannah River Site does minimal monitoring in Georgia, the state itself has not had a robust independent monitoring program in place for nearly a decade. The DOE funds a robust monitoring program in South Carolina, which is carried out by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC)

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

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, the 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 January 2014, those funds have not been dispersed.

Georgia Women's Action for New Directions 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.

Contact Us

Georgia Women's Action for New Directions

250 Georgia Avenue
Suite 202
Atlanta, GA 30312

404-524-5999 - phone
404-524-7593 - fax

info@georgiawand.org

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