Press Release: Georgia WAND invited to speak Friday at Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future meeting in Augusta
For Immediate Release
January 4, 2011
ATLANTA - The Blue Ribbon Commission for America’s Nuclear Future, under the authority of the U.S. Department of Energy, will visit the Savannah River Site (SRS), a U.S. nuclear weapons complex near Aiken, South Carolina and just across the river from Augusta, Georgia on Thursday, January 6. The Commission will also host an open meeting at the Marriott Hotel & Suites at Riverwalk on Friday, January 7 in Augusta.
Several invested groups are expected to speak out on nuclear energy, the nuclear fuel cycle, waste storage, and controversial proposals for the reprocessing of nuclear waste Friday morning during the meeting, which is designed to provide a platform for local groups and legislators to express concerns and enter into dialogue with the Commission.
The Commission invited Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) to speak on a panel Friday at 10:55 am, acknowledging the group’s founding mission of nuclear disarmament, and a 26-year history of advocating for adequate clean-up solutions to the persistent nuclear waste and environmental contamination issues that plague the SRS area and the vulnerable communities that lie downwind and downstream from the 310-square mile nuclear weapons production facility
Georgia WAND is concerned that the Commission’s visit to the area may signal DOE interest in ‘new’ nuclear missions, such as the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and the possible creation of ‘energy parks’ at SRS leading to increased volumes of waste and further establishing the area as the country’s main nuclear dumping ground.
Recognizing the environmental, health and safety hazards suffered by those living in the shadow of nuclear weapons facilities and commercial nuclear power reactors, Georgia WAND advocates for the restoration of environmental monitoring to the state of Georgia (through Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division) This important monitoring would expose radioactive impacts on vegetation, rainfall, well water, the Savannah River, livestock, peanuts and other crops and the air, specifically in Georgia’s Burke and Screven counties.
Speaking on behalf of the Georgia WAND community, including partners across the Southeast, the organization opposes the expansion of nuclear missions at SRS as well as commercial nuclear power expansion in the US.
“We look forward to sharing our concerns about the cumulative environmental burdens that communities located near Savannah River Site are already facing," Dianne Valentin, Georgia WAND Board member said. "Members of the Blue Ribbon Commission need to hear real-life stories of those who have suffered from sixty plus years of dangerous exposures to nuclear waste producers and other large polluters.”
The Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu at the direction of the President, established the Commission to “conduct a comprehensive review of policies for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle, including all alternatives for storage, processing, and disposal of civilian and defense used nuclear fuel, high-level waste, and materials derived from nuclear activities,” according to its charter.