Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions exposes lack of environmental monitoring; presses Dept. of Energy for accountability
For Immediate Release
Thursday, September 29, 2011
What: Georgia WAND will host a press conference exposing the Department of Energy’s (DOE) failure to stand behind their agreement to implement environmental testing and monitoring in Georgia, specifically in rural, poor counties near Savannah River Site (SRS). A US nuclear weapons site, known by local residents as ‘the bomb plant’, SRS is currently tasked with Cold War legacy waste management, waste clean-up after reprocessing, plutonium disposition, and tritium production for nuclear weapons.
Press packets will be available with a complete timeline of DOE monitoring in Georgia, an executive summary of the most recent agreement between Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and DOE to restore this monitoring, a map showing what and where this testing would monitor, and the last known monitoring report (2004) by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources showing elevated levels of radioactive contaminants in these areas.
Who: Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions, citizens of Shell Bluff, near SRS, Dr. Helen Caldicott (physician and leading nuclear expert), local legislators, and representatives from local environmental, women’s and health NGOs
When: Tuesday, October 4, 2011, 10 am
Where: Georgia State Capitol steps, Washington Street Side
Why: Georgia WAND members and concerned citizens continue to get the ‘runaround’. Georgia WAND has worked to restore this testing for the past eight years, having collaborated most recently with both DOE headquarters in Washington DC and Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD), with which they reached an agreement for monitoring. This monitoring would restore sampling, testing and reporting of all radioactive contaminants in soil, crops, air, livestock, and water to Georgia counties that lie directly across the Savannah River from SRS. However, DOE bureaucracy has obstructed this funding of an environmental monitoring program to the State of Georgia. Georgia residents continue to suffer.
This State monitoring program was cut in 2003, after ten years of intact testing, put in place as a result of an Agreement in Principle between the State (EPD) and federal (DOE) agencies. A national superfund site, SRS has a legacy of contamination spanning back to the cold war, which is why this monitoring was initially established. This testing helped protect residents in poor and rural areas surrounding SRS, where many people rely on water from private wells, home-grown crops and fish from the Savannah River. In 2010, then DOE Assistant Secretary, Dr. Ines Triay, pledged to that monitoring would be restored Georgia. DOE has yet to fulfill their promise. Georgia WAND sees this as another instance of negligence by the federal government and lack of accountability and transparency. This is a prime example of environmental injustice in our country.