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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
NOVEMBER 9, 2006
CONTACTS
Louis Zeller BREDL (336) 977-0852
Bobbie Paul WAND (678) 592-9342


SRS Neighbors and Southeast Organizations Say: No New Bomb Plant

At a press conference today in North Augusta, SC, local residents joined with public interest organizations to throw down a gauntlet of opposition to federal plans for a new nuclear weapons complex possibly to be located at the Savannah River Site. SRS neighbors and workers joined organizations in the southeast and the nation to spotlight public health dangers and environmental injustice concerns if the US Department of Energy locates yet another bomb plant at the weapons site. Speakers urged local economic development through a real cleanup at SRS.

Front and center at the press conference was Richard Lindsay who avers that his family was tragically impacted by poisoning at SRS. Lindsay said, “The price was too high to pay. Lives are going to be sacrificed just as my father’s was, no matter how many safeguards they say will be in place.” He concluded, “SRS needs to be cleaned up—safely—and not returned to the days of bomb building.”

Rev. Charles Utley, the Augusta staffer for the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, detailed the unjust environmental assault which SRS wages on poor and/or minority communities in the directly-affected neighborhoods. Utley said, “The families of subsistence fishermen are already eating contaminated fish from the Savannah River. Our communities and our congregations have a moral obligation to stop the new bomb plant.” Utley’s co-worker Louis Zeller pointed out that neither the SRS facility nor the federal government conducts actual tests of the radionuclide burden which SRS neighbors carry.

At the conference, spokespeople from varied regional organizations laid out their objections and concerns.

Downstream resident Joe Whetstone said, “Those of us living in Beaufort or Jasper County, South Carolina are consuming tritium daily as a result of previous Savannah River Site nuclear weapons programs. Resurrecting the nuclear arms race by adding new weapons facilities will further endanger the Savannah River and the people depending on it.”

Bobbie Paul of the Georgia-based Women’s Action for New Directions, underlined that pollution monitoring in Georgia has been eliminated, resulting in a see-no-evil approach by the federal government. Paul said, “WAND was founded as Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament in 1980. Now we must carry on that work since our leaders are once again putting people’s lives at stake.”

Environmentalists Inc, based in Columbia, SC, is concerned about the long-term consequences of the proposed weapons complex. Coordinator Ruth Thomas challenged, “They’re good at making nuclear waste, but not at figuring out what to do with it.”

Glenn Carroll of Nuclear Watch South summed up the recommendations of SRS neighbors and the environmental organizations. She said, “It’s time to think beyond the bomb, to turn our nation’s genius and wealth towards nuclear waste management, environmental protection, and disarmament.”

National working partners supporting today’s launch of the campaign to halt nuclear weapons include the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability and the National Religious Partnership on the Nuclear Weapons Danger.

On October 19th 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 (FR vol. 71, no. 202, 61731). The purpose of the EIS is to assess the environmental impacts of a massive reorganization of the nuclear weapons complex. The first public scoping meting on the EIS was held today at the North Augusta Community Center. Further meetings will be held near atomic weapons sites in Tennessee, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico and California with a final hearing in Washington, DC. The written public comment period extends through January 17, 2007.

Complex 2030, developed by the National Nuclear Security Administration, includes the construction of new facilities to manufacture plutonium warheads, to conduct nuclear weapons research and development, and to consolidate nuclear materials.

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