Georgia WAND in The Augusta Chronicle – “Protest demands Ga. monitor Savannah River Site environment”
Monitoring ended in Georgia in '04
By Walter C. Jones
Morris News Service
October 4, 2011
ATLANTA — A group of anti-nuclear activists held a rally on the Capitol steps Tuesday to call for the U.S. Department of Energy to resume funding Georgia’s monitoring of air and water quality for dangerous emissions from Savannah River Site.
The group, Women’s Action for New Directions, said the funding was needed as an early warning against accidental releases of nuclear hazards that could contaminate the air, crops, wildlife and private wells and raise the risk of cancer in people living in Richmond, Burke, Screven, Effingham and Chatham counties.
Dr. Helen Caldicott, a pediatrician who co-founded the group and Physicians for Social Responsibility, contended federal officials feared an objective environmental assessment because it would show that the residents of those counties would have to be relocated.
“I think one of the reasons they don’t want to test is because it’s obvious that area is highly polluted with radioactive materials,” she said, adding that SRS should be shut down completely.
For 10 years, the Department of Energy provided money for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to monitor wells, air samples, wildlife and crops in those counties.
In 2003, the policy changed, and the funding stopped the next year.
The state continues to use its own money to monitor areas around commercial reactors, which includes Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro.
“We’ve not seen anything unusual,” said Jim Hardeman, the manager of EPD’s environmental radiation program.
DOE still funds $1.5 million for monitoring by South Carolina annually.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control collects samples of air, soil, sediment, vegetation, fish, water, milk and game animals to determine the amount of radionuclides and chemicals present.
Sarita Chourey, of Morris News Service in Columbia, contributed to this article.