SC environmental group suing Biden Admin. over proposed production of nuclear cores at SC site

State - Regional

AIKEN, S.C. (WCBD) — The South Carolina Environmental Law Project is among a group of environmental watchdogs suing the Biden Administration over the proposed production of plutonium cores at two sites, one of which is located in South Carolina.

The Savannah River Site — a federal facility in Aiken responsible for the “management, stabilization, and disposition of nuclear materials,” — is one of the proposed sites, along with the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The sites would be used for production of plutonium pits, “which are the fissile cores of nuclear warheads…that initiates thermonuclear fusion upon detonation.” Currently, plutonium pits are only produced at the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory.

The plan intends to repurpose a “defunct Mixed-Oxide Facility (MOX Facility),” although the MOX Facility “was not designed for producing plutonium pits.”

The suit argues that federal agencies responsible for the plan “have unlawfully avoided the statutorily mandated consideration of programmatic alternatives, such as the disqualification of [the Savannah River Site] from consideration as a pit-production site based on the failure of the MOX facility, as well as other programmatic alternatives such as the re-use of existing pits or the production of pits at other locations or combinations of locations.”

Further, the suit claims that “a major vulnerability to this ambitious plan for expanded plutonium pit production and production at multiple sites is the uncertainty of future disposal of radioactive transuranic (TRU) wastes, which are plutonium wastes generated from pit production, and the failure to analyze this disposal issue.”

Ultimately, the environmental groups believe that the program would “saddle the already-burdened communities represented by the Plaintiff groups with a significant amount of nuclear waste and pollution.”

Click here to read the full suit.

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