BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE www.bredl.org
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League
BREDL NUCLEAR


Savannah River Site

The Savannah River Site is a sprawling defense industry complex of 310 square miles which processes and stores nuclear materials and which is attempting to clean up radioactive and hazardous wastes created during the last 50 years. From 1953 to 1988 SRS produced 36 metric tonnes of plutonium in five nuclear reactors. These reactors also produced large quantities of tritium. The site has two chemical separation plants, a heavy water extraction plant, a nuclear fuel and target fabrication plant, a tritium extraction plant, and several waste management operations. SRS is located in the South Carolina counties of Aiken and Barnwell.


Group Challenges Government Study of Air Pollution at SRS
Calls for Action to Protect Public Health

Aug. 20, 2013: The ATSDR’s public health assessment falls short in its analysis of offsite health impacts from the toxic air pollutants emitted from the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. In our report entitled Sow the Wind–Toxic Air Pollution from the Savannah River Site, we investigated the air toxics which are emitted from large and small smokestacks at SRS and how they interact to raise downwind pollution levels in Jackson, New Ellenton, Williston and other communities.

BREDL Press Release | BREDL's Comments | Report: Sow the Wind



BREDL comments on the Surplus Plutonium Disposition SEIS

Sept. 4, 2012: For over a decade, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League has opposed the reprocessing of plutonium as civilian nuclear power fuel because it presents unsupportable risks to public safety and the environment.

Read BREDL's comments from BREDL's Charles Utley



BREDL comments on the Surplus Plutonium Disposition SEIS

March 12, 2012: BREDL opposes the US Dept. of Energy’s proposed expansion of plutonium reprocessing facilities either at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina or at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the proposed use of plutonium fuel at commercial electric power plants operated by TVA and other utilities.

Read BREDL's Comments



Radiation from Savannah River Site Increasing - New Inquiry into SRS

Feb. 22, 2012: A new report by Joseph J. Mangano, MPH MBA finds that in the past decade levels of most types of radioactivity at the Savannah River Site are rising, as are rates of radiosensitive diseases. A new inquiry is needed to understand why these are occurring as cleanup continues at SRS. Mangano directs the Radiation and Public Health Project research group which has assembled epidemiological evidence of a probable causal link between low-level internal radiation from the ingestion of man-made fission products and world-wide increases in immune deficiency diseases and cancer.  

Read BREDL Press Release | Download the Report | View the Report Summary



Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff Radio Commercials
Jan. 2011: Listen to radio spots regarding Savannah River Site

Spot 1:   Spot 2:
Spot 3:   Spot 4:

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League released a study in March 2007 which shows that harmful levels of air pollution from the Savannah River Site are reaching nearby communities. The group published its results in a report titled Sow The Wind: Toxic Air Pollution from the Savannah River Site.
More Details and Download the Report (posted online: Feb. 23, 2008)


Nov. 6, 2007: Read U.S. Dept. of Energy Document - Chemical and Radiochemical Composition of Thermally Stabilized Plutonium Oxide from the Plutonium Finishing Plant Considered as Alternate Feedstock for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, JM Tingey and SA Jones, July 2005, Prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract DE-AC05-76RL01830

Nov. 7, 2007: BREDL and Nuclear Watch South file intervenors' response.


BREDL and Nuclear Watch South File New Contention.

Oct. 9, 2007: Today two organizations announced the filing of a legal challenge that could stop the construction of a plutonium fuel factory at the Savannah River Site. Nuclear Watch South and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League uncovered information that the US Department of Energy plans major modifications to the proposed plutonium fuel factory. Read Press Release


Oct. 5, 2007 - In 2002 the US Department of Energy discontinued its vitrification and immobilization plans for surplus plutonium; on September 5, 2007, the agency issued an Amended Record of Decision which said, "[e]liminating the mission for the Plutonium Vitrification process would result in the MFFF and H-Canyon processing additional plutonium, therefore requiring some modifications to both facilities." Such modification of the plutonium fuel factory (MFFF) was not requested or granted during the construction license process nor is it covered by the proposed operating license. This failure forms the basis for our latest challenge.

Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League's and Nuclear Watch South's Late Filed Contention Regarding Need to Supplement EIS for Proposed MOX Plutonium Processing Facility


BREDL, Nuclear Watch South, and NIRS have responded to the NRC Staff and Shaw Areva MOX Services June 11 responses.

June 27, 2007 - The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), Nuclear Watch South, and Nuclear Information & Resource Service (NIRS) have responded to the June 11, 2007 NRC Staff and Shaw Areva MOX Services responses to the Groups' Petition for Intervention and Request for Hearing filed on May 14, 2007.

June 27 Reply to Responses and Request for Hearing

The Groups' June 27 Reply contains five contentions and a request for a hearing. The contentions include:
- Failure to limit emissions of hazardous air pollutants
- Accidental Release of Radionuclides
- Extended Onsite Storage of Radioactive Waste Not Addressed in EIS or License Application
- Failure to Address Impact of Terrorist Attacks on Plutonium Fuel Facility and Transport


BREDL, Nuclear Watch South, and NIRS have filed a petition to intervene in the licensing of proposed Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility

On May 14, 2007 the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, along with Nuclear Watch South and Nuclear Information & Resource Service, filed a petition to intervene in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's license proceeding for a plutonium fuel factory at the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site in South Carolina. We have opposed this technology since 1997 and remain steadfast in our opposition to nuclear reprocessing.

The US Department of Energy's Surplus Plutonium Disposition Program plans to convert approximately 37 tons of weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for commercial nuclear power plants operated by Duke Energy. The plan is to mix the plutonium with depleted uranium. The $4 billion facility would include 1) a plutonium fuel factory, 2) a facility to convert plutonium from a metallic form to plutonium dioxide powder, and 3) nuclear waste facilities.

Petition for Intervention and Request for Hearing


Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility
How You Can Help


The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League opposes the use of plutonium fuel in commercial nuclear power reactors. While we support the goal of putting plutonium into non-weapons usable form, we believe that the use of plutonium as a fuel in commercial nuclear power plants is wrong for environmental, economic, public health, and national security reasons. Further, the plutonium fuel program undermines international agreements for nuclear non-proliferation.

May 2, 2007: The Department of Energy plans to build a factory near Aiken, SC to convert weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for nuclear power plants. The mixed oxide fabrication facility (MFFF) would be built at the Savannah River Site, the nuclear reactors are located near Charlotte and Rock Hill. BREDL and other groups oppose this experimental project. If you live within 50 miles of the Savannah River Site, you would be affected. You can help stop this threat to public health by signing the enclosed Declaration and mailing it to us before May 14, 2007.

How you can help and 50-mile radius map
Declaration of Standing (sign and mail to us before May 14, 2007)
MFFF Fact Sheet


April 20, 2007: BREDL comments regarding Public Health Assessment, Evaluation of Off-site Groundwater and Surface Water Contamination at the Savannah River Site (USDOE) Aiken, SC. - The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has disregarded major pathways for hazardous and radioactive substances from the US Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, improperly narrowed the focus of its investigation to groundwater and surface water impacts at SRS, and abrogated its responsibility to take responsive action by shifting from itself the burden of protecting infants under the age of one year.

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League opposes DOE’s plan, called Complex 2030, which calls for a new generation of nuclear weapons production, for which we believe the Savannah River Site is at great risk.  Complex 2030, developed by the National Nuclear Security Administration, is a proposal to construct new facilities to manufacture plutonium warheads, to conduct nuclear weapons research and development, and to store nuclear materials.  On October 19, 2006 the US Department of Energy published the Notice of Intent to Prepare a Supplement to the Stockpile Stewardship Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement—Complex 2030 (Federal Register vol. 71, no. 202, page 61731).  The first public meeting on Complex 2030 was held on November 9th in North Augusta, South Carolina, near the Savannah River Site bomb plant.  Further meetings are being held near atomic weapons sites in Tennessee, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico and California with a final hearing in Washington, DC on December 14, 2006.  The written public comment period extends through January 17, 2007.

Our ultimate goal is to change completely the mission of the United States Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site from military to peaceful pursuits.  We are dedicated to ending the toxic and radioactive pollution of the soil, water and air of SRS by achieving a true cleanup of more than five decades of bomb plant contamination.  

Nov. 9, 2006: BREDL Press Release

Nov. 22, 2002: BREDL Press Release | BREDL releases Don Moniak report: ""Does America Need A New Atomic Bomb Plant?: A Preliminary Review of DOE's Plans to Restore Large-Scale Plutonium Pit Production"


July 26, 2005: Read BREDL July 26, 2005 letter to Jean Sulc, Chair, Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board. Today citizens called upon the Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board to use its powers to bring an end to a pattern of delays and waste at the old weapons plant near Aiken, SC. Citing audits by the Department of Energy’s Inspector General, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League detailed a ten year environmental cleanup gone wrong and tens of millions of tax dollars wasted.


July 12, 2005: Read BREDL July 12, 2005 letter to Robert Meisenheimer, WM Committee Chair, Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board. | On March 29th, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League informed the Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board that we believe that the Department of Energy provided falsified data to Congress, information which affected federal legislation for the ongoing clean up of atomic weapons waste at SRS. On May 23rd the League presented supporting data to the CAB. Subsequently, we were invited to present this information to the CAB's Waste Management Committee. On July 12th, we made four recommendations.

1. Block the U.S. Department of Energy from disposing high-level radioactive waste in South Carolina, a precedent which also threatens communities with contaminated DOE sites in Idaho, Washington and other states.

2. Direct DOE to immediately implement an open, transparent and public review process on high-level nuclear waste tank closures.

3. Grant EPA direct regulatory authority over the disposal of DOE's high-level radioactive waste.

4. Ensure that the external regulator of high-level waste have the discretion to set an appropriate cleanup standard for the waste that protects public health and the environment.

May 23, 2005: On behalf of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, I request to present the information requested by members of the SRS Citizens Advisory Board at the last meeting. As you may recall, on March 28th I provided federal budget documents which revealed that the $16 billion in savings promised during passage of Section 3116 of the 2005 Defense Authorization for clean up of high-level radioactive waste tanks was not evident. Further, I said, “We at BREDL are convinced that the DOE provided falsified data to gain an exemption so it could add cement to the waste, leave it underground, and reduce costs.” Some CAB members took issue with this statement and I am here today to provide documents which will demonstrate the accuracy of our contention. - Lou Zeller, BREDL | BREDL May 23 statement to SRS CAB


Mar. 28, 2005: Citizens Groups Advise SRS Citizens Advisory Board - Sunshine Campaign Will Allow Public To Have Say - Today at a press conference in North Augusta, grassroots citizens groups announced a “Sunshine Campaign” to open up the process of communication between the Department of Energy, the SRS Citizens Advisory Board and the general public.
BREDL Press Release | BREDL Statement to the Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board


Feb. 10, 2005: Report by BREDL staffer Charles Utley regarding the Savannah River Site Health Effects Subcommittee meeting of January 25th. It is a good overview of the dose reconstruction issue caused by activities at the bomb plant.


Nov. 30, 2004: BREDL Report on Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board Meeting of November 15-16, 2004, which was held in Augusta, GA. (includes dates for upcoming 2005 meetings)


Nov. 3, 2004: Project: Environmental Pollution at Savannah River Weapons Site | Date of Project: September 4— 11, 2004 | Host organizations: Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, ISAR Open World Russia Civic Program | Administered by: Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress. Associated documents: Dmitri Rybakov’s scientific paper on testing for radionuclides English Version , Russian Version | Risk-Based End States at SRS factsheet: Radioactive Pollution gets a Facelift. English Version , Russian Version | Combat Air Pollution with Bucket Brigades factsheet. English Version , Russian Version


June 3, 2004 (posted online): Map of High-Level Radioactive Wastes and Aquifers in the Southeast featuring SRS (.pdf)


June 3, 2004 (posted online): Map of Drinking Water information featuring SRS (.pdf)


April 27, 2004: Read Press Release and Lou Zeller Statement - Citizens Charge US With Nuclear Treaty Violation : Today at a press conference at the United Nations, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League charged the United States with violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and called for international inspections of weapons facilities in South Carolina.


May 14, 2003: BREDL additional comments on Savannah River Site Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility Draft Environmental Impact Statement. (in .pdf) (posted online June 15, 2003)


Dec. 06, 2002: BREDL additional comments, including letter from Dr. Peter Rickards on the unreliability of HEPA filters to control radionuclide emissions, on the draft Title V permit for Savannah River Site. (in .pdf)


Nov. 21, 2002: BREDL additional comments on the draft Title V permit for the Savannah River Site. (in .pdf) | BREDL flyer for Nov. 21, 2002 hearing (in .pdf)


Oct. 29, 2002: BREDL comments on Supplement to the Programmatic EIS on SSM for a Modern Pit Facility at Savannah River Site. | Excerpts from the testimony of Rev. Charles Utley, BREDL staff and President of the Hyde and Aragon Park Neighborhood Improvement Association at the DOE/NNSA Scoping Hearing on Modern Pit Facility held in North Augusta, SC on October 29, 2002.(posted 11/12/02)


Oct. 29, 2002: U.S. Dept. of Energy Public Hearing on Supplemental PEIS re: Pit Facility at SRS. Hearing is scheduled to begin at 6 pm in North Augusta, SC. BREDL Factsheet with more details (in .pdf)


Oct. 12, 2002: New BREDL factsheet on Savannah River Site (in .pdf)


Aug. 29, 2001: BREDL letter to Dept. of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham requesting information regarding the Department of Energy’s (DOE) program for long-term storage of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU), and the related transportation of non-pit plutonium, at DOE’s Savannah River Site (SRS).


Aug. 29, 2001: A Report on the Plutonium (Pu) Situation, Promise To "Delay" Made In Bad Faith - The decision this week by the Department of Energy (DOE) to "delay" plutonium shipments to the Savannah River Site (SRS) involved several omissions of information and was another act of bad faith by an Agency with a long tradition of bending federal law and misleading the public. Read Media Advisory


May 24, 2001: BREDL May 17, 2001 letter requesting NRC to hold hearing on Construction Authorization Request (CAR) for a Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication facility at Savannah River Site in South Carolina. (.pdf file) | BREDL Press Release


April 16, 2001: GROUP REPORTS LITANY OF IRREGULARITIES IN PLUTONIUM FUEL FACTORY LICENSE APPLICATION AND REVIEW:
Today, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) released documents challenging the plutonium fuel factory proposed for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, South Carolina. In a letter written to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), BREDL contends that the Duke Cogema Stone and Webster (DCS) plutonium factory license application is fatally flawed and should be rejected. The group also contends that DOE must complete a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. read BREDL Press Release


April 10, 2001 - Read GCE/BREDL Press Release - Georgians for Clean Energy and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League will sponsor an informational Open House regarding the Department of Energy's ongoing plans to construct and operate a plutonium (MOX) fuel factory at the already heavily polluted Savannah River Site, approximately 90 miles upstream from Savannah. If built, the plutonium factory will generate millions of gallons of liquid radioactive waste and increase the potential of creating more permanent nuclear weapons and power production missions at SRS and the region.


Jan. 10, 2001 - Today in a letter to US Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Bill Richardson, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) urged immediate action to halt the plutonium fuel factory project at the Savannah River Site. The group charged that the recently released Environmental Report reveals that the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was incomplete and incorrect. BREDL Press Release, BREDL letter to US Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Bill Richardson


Jan 4, 2000 - The Department of Energy issues Record of Decision for Surplus Plutonium Disposition at Savannah River Site.The Department of Energy today announced its decision to dispose of up to 50 metric tons of surplus plutonium from the United States in a hybrid approach and to construct and operate three new facilities at its Savannah River Site (SRS).






MORE INFO: Southern Anti-Plutonium Campaign