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Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League
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BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE
PO Box 88 ~ Glendale Springs, North Carolina 28629 ~ Phone (336) 982-2691 ~ Fax (336) 982-2954 ~ Email: BREDL@skybest.com


PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2001
CONTACT:
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 dumping.

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 indefinitely?"

"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 production."

"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"

(end)

        Don 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.

        Moniak can provide specifics as to the government's plans to:

* 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 counties;

* produce nuclear fuel [called Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel] from military plutonium using processes that will increase the nuclear waste problem at SRS;

* 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.


Southern Anti-Plutonium Campaign