Group protests land lease at SRS

Augusta (GA) Chronicle

> By Rob Pavey| Staff Writer
> Tuesday, April 21, 2009
> An environmental group says it will challenge the U.S. Energy
> Department's plan to lease 2,700 acres within Savannah River Site to a
> nonprofit economic development group working to lure jobs and new
> missions to the area.
> "At this point they haven't said what the land would be used for,"
> said Tom Clements, the Southeastern nuclear campaign coordinator with
> Friends of the Earth. "By leaving it vague, this is a foot in the door
> for missions that could be very detrimental to the states of South
> Carolina and Georgia."
> The department announced last week that it would prepare an
> environmental assessment "to evaluate the potential environmental
> consequences" of the proposed lease to the SRS Community Reuse
> Organization for an energy park.
> Mr. Clements said the proposed park could attract expensive nuclear
> reprocessing facilities that could burden taxpayers and endanger the
> environment.
> The Energy Department's plan to prepare an environmental assessment --
> rather than a more detailed environmental impact statement -- will
> give the public less opportunity for input, he said.
> But the notice of the study does point out that an environmental
> impact statement can be done on specific facilities that might be
> proposed for the site in the future.
> Rick Toole, the Community Reuse Organization's chairman, said it is
> far too early to define specific projects for the site -- or to
> conduct specific studies as to their suitability.
> "At this point, all we have is what we'd like to see happen," he said.
> "But the general idea is to provide our economic development people in
> both states an opportunity for facilities that are not readily
> locatable in a regular industrial park."
> Such facilities, he said, could include nuclear reactors or facilities
> for reprocessing spent nuclear fuels. Any reactors brought to the park
> would likely be research oriented, rather than energy producers, he
> said.
> ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT: A concise document that briefly provides
> sufficient evidence and analysis for determining whether to prepare an
> environmental impact statement or a finding of no significant impact.
> A draft EA is made available to host and interested states, and to the
> public, for comment prior to an agency decision to prepare an EIS or
> issue a finding of no significant impact.
> ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT: Prepared on a major federal action
> significantly affecting the human environment, and it includes the
> environmental impact of the proposed action, a description of impacts
> that cannot be avoided should the project be implemented and
> alternatives to the proposed action and their impacts.
> Source: U.S. Department of Energy