Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League


PO Box 88 ~ Glendale Springs, North Carolina 28629 ~ Phone (336) 982-2691 ~ Fax (336) 982-2954 ~ Email:


January 10, 2001
Don Moniak (803) 644-6953
Lou Zeller (336) 982-2691


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 asked that Richardson, who leaves office next week, act now to authorize a
Supplemental EIS to address huge disparities in waste volumes and activity, to establish waste
management and disposal plans, and to account for the doubling of the facility operations from
10 to 20 years.

In his letter to the Secretary, Donald Moniak, BREDL’s SRS Project Coordinator, wrote
that the contractor’s new waste estimates “make the Department’s final analysis look like
fiction.” Moniak expressed grave concerns about a new highly radioactive liquid waste stream
not included in the EIS. He charged, “Neither the Department nor the contractor has a plan for
what to do with this waste, a clear indication that the plutonium fuel program is a throwback to
the disastrous era of the ‘produce first, worry later’ operations of the Cold War.”

Today’s request for a Supplemental EIS follows delivery of the Environmental Report
for the Duke Cogema Stone and Webster Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility submitted to
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on December 20, 2000. The report was submitted by DOE
contractor Duke, Cogema, Stone and Webster (DCS), which has a lucrative contract to design,
construct, and operate a plutonium fuel fabrication facility--commonly called the Mixed Oxide
(MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility--at DOE’s Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, SC.

The report discloses large radioactive waste streams never managed before by SRS and
impacts from plutonium fuel fabrication unreported or grossly underestimated in earlier DOE
analysis. Compared to earlier DOE estimates, the latest report shows the plutonium fuel factory
annually generating :

• More than 80,000 gallons a year of previously unreported liquid “high activity alpha waste” never before produced at SRS, and for which neither
the contractor nor the Department have disposal plans;
• 7,500 times more liquid low level radioactive waste;
• 5 times more solid transuranic (TRU) radioactive waste

Although a year ago DOE claimed in its Surplus Plutonium Disposition Environmental
Impact Statement that no “remotely” handled radioactive waste would be produced, hundreds of
thousands of gallons of waste are anticipated over the life of the plant. The plan now calls for
81,300 gallons of liquid waste to be transferred to the F-Area high level waste “tank farms” at
SRS, which are already short on space. The contractors and DOE propose deferring the future
disposition of this waste by allowing DOE’s Environmental Management department at
Savannah River Site to accept and manage it--thus shifting and obscuring the real costs of the
plutonium fuel program.

Last September BREDL launched the SRS project of their Southern Anti-plutonium
Campaign. Working out of the Aiken field office since October, Moniak serves as SRS project
coordinator. For the past 17 years, BREDL has worked on high-level and low-level radioactive
waste issues in the southeast.


more info: BREDL letter to US Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Bill Richardson , DOE reply to letter , Insights from Offsite (No. 2001-1 2/15/01) , NRC MOX Environmental Review website

Southern Anti-Plutonium Campaign