August 30, 2001
Don Moniak (803) 644-6953
Brett Bursey (803) 808-3384
Groups Warn Governor Not to Fall for MOX
Rep. Joe Neal,
cochair of the Progressive Network, told
media representatives assembled in front of the
governor's office Thursday, "We are here to
support the governors opposition to plutonium
dumping in South Carolina, and call on him to
oppose building a MOX plant at SRS as some
kind of exit strategy for nuclear waste."
Neal is referring to the state's congressional
delegation and legislative leaders' claim that
they oppose plutonium dumping, but support
building the MOX facility. "The plan
to process plutonium to make fuel for commercial
reactors (MOX) will create more radioactive
waste," Neal said, "and increase the
threat posed to our state by plutonium. You can't
be opposed to more plutonium ending up South
Carolina and be in favor of MOX." The
governor, while opposing plutonium dumping, has
not come out in opposition to the MOX facility.
Neal was joined at the press conference by
representatives from local and regional
environmental organizations that are concerned
that MOX will be used as an excuse for plutonium
The plutonium debate has been re-awakened by
Governor Hodges' recent bold stance against
plutonium being sent to South Carolina without
the promise to remove it.
"Now that we are finally seeing people in
South Carolina openly agree that plutonium is
dangerous, the next step is recognizing that
making plutonium fuel is a step in the wrong
direction," said Ruth Thomas of Columbia,
President of Environmentalists, Inc, a nuclear
industry watchdog group for the last 30 years.
"Governor Hodges deserves applause for
standing up to DOE and raising valid concerns
about plutonium, but burning plutonium for 20-30
years in this region is not an exit
strategy," said nuclear worker Harry Rogers
of Columbia, who serves as Nuclear Issues
Coordinator for the Carolina Peace Resource Center,
and on the Board of the Alliance
for Nuclear Accountability.
"How can people call MOX an exit
strategy," asked Leslie Minerd of the United Citizens Party,
"when fabricating plutonium fuel would
create millions of gallons of radioactive waste
at Savannah River Plant, truck plutonium across
the state to burn it in Duke's old ice condenser
reactors, then end up with it stored on site
"Processing plutonium into nuclear fuel
actually makes it more attractive to thieves and
also serves as a back-door strategy for new
plutonium pit production sought by SRS,"
added Don Moniak of Aiken, a Community Organizer
for the Blue Ridge
Environmental Defense League.
"Many South Carolina politicians are
posturing as environmentalists in order to
promote another jobs program at the Bomb
Plant," said Brett Bursey, Director of the South
Carolina Progressive Network.
"These politicians should be fighting for
jobs cleaning up and immobilizing the waste, not
for jobs that make more waste," Bursey said.
"There are 35 million gallons of nuclear
sludge already at SRS that will cost billions
immobilize and generate jobs for years to come.
Our leaders should be demanding that the
administration restore and increase the clean up
budget at the Bomb Plant before we talk about new
"It's our tax-money paying for these
projects, and when dealing with plutonium the
safest and most cost-efficient thing to do is
treat it as a waste, not make commercial products
from it," added Don Moniak.
Calling for public participation in the decisions
about South Carolina's nuclear future, Ruth
Thomas said, "We were not represented in the
creation of this mess, but we must be represented
now as active participants before more decisions
are made behind closed doors"
Moniak, the Aiken based nuclear specialist
for the Blue Ridge
Environmental Defense League, will be
available for technical background briefings.
Moniak has information that the DOE's recent
agreement to delay shipments of plutonium was
based on the program being behind schedule and
not because of opposition from South Carolina.
can provide specifics as to the government's
* ship, store, and process surplus military
plutonium at the Department of Energy's (DOE) 300
square-mile Savannah River Site (SRS), located in
South Carolina's Aiken, Barnwell, and Allendale
* produce nuclear fuel [called Mixed Oxide (MOX)
fuel] from military plutonium using processes
that will increase the nuclear waste problem at
* make 450 shipments of plutonium/MOX fuel across
South Carolina to Duke Power Company's Catawba
Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) located on the banks of
Lake Wylie in York County, SC, and into North
Carolina to Duke's McGuire NPP located on the
banks of Lake Norman in Mecklenburg County, NC.
* Irradiate plutonium/MOX fuel at Catawba and
McGuire-both located within 20 miles of downtown
Charlotte NC-from 2007 to 2024, and subsequently
store the irradiated fuel at the plants for at
least five years while awaiting disposal in a
geologic repository-one that may not exist.