Savannah River Oversight Board Seeks Monitoring for Radiation
(APN) ATLANTA — On January 27, 2014 the Savannah River Site Citizen’s Advisory Board (SRS CAB) voted overwhelmingly to approve an official recommendation urging the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to help Georgia fund an environmental radiation monitoring program.
The recommendation, which requires an official response from the DOE, asks the DOE to initiate conversations about the monitoring program with the State of Georgia by April 2014, with intent to begin the program no later than 2016, according to a press release from Georgia Women’s Actions for New Directions (WAND).
WAND and other environmental groups have made heroic efforts to restart the monitoring in Georgia since its demise in 2005.
In 1993 a monitoring program was initiated to monitor both South Carolina and Georgia areas of the Savannah River Site (SRS). In 2003, the funding for the monitoring program was terminated and it ended completely in 2005.
Since that time, local communities and organizations have worked with the State of Georgia and DOE in an attempt to reinstate funding for monitoring in Georgia.
Finally, on April 13, 2010, DOE announce their intentions to release funds to the State of Georgia to restart their monitoring, testing, and sampling program. As of January 2014, however, those funds have not been disbursed.
If monitoring in Georgia does restart in 2016, that will be eleven years without monitoring of water, soil, air, plants, or animals in one of the most polluted areas in the country, Savannah River Site.
The Savannah River is the fourth most polluted river in the nation, according to the Savannah Morning News.
With more than 7.6 million pounds of toxic chemicals flowing into its waters in 2007, the Savannah River has the fourth-highest toxic discharge in the country, according to a report released in 2009 by the nonprofit Environment Georgia, cited by the newspaper.
The 310 square mile SRS is located close to Augusta, Savannah, and many other smaller communities like Shell Bluff, in Georgia.
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, Shell Bluff has experienced higher than national average rates of cancer since the nuclear industry–SRS, Barnwell, and Plant Vogtle–became their neighbors.
“This is about protecting all communities in Georgia, including the often overlooked rural communities near the Savannah River Site,” Hanson said in the press release.
The SRS was built in the early 1950s to produce plutonium and tritium for the U.S. nuclear arsenal. More than a third of U.S. weapons plutonium and almost all of its tritium was produced there.
Without monitoring, Georgians do not know what contaminants are in their soil, food, air, and water.