German nuclear waste may be headed to SC via The State

The United States and German governments have been in talks for the past three years over a proposal to send shiploads of highly radioactive nuclear waste from a German reactor to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, according to government documents revealed Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Energy offered to evaluate accepting waste from the German prototype reactor, according to a 2011 U.S. Department of Energy letter obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Research agencies of the German government have signed a “statement of interest” to support the research and development, SRS spokesman Jim Giusti said Tuesday.

“We haven’t agreed to do anything yet,” Giusti told The Greenville News. “We are still evaluating that. If that decision is made, Germany will fully fund the work.”

However, a representative of an environmental group that opposes further acceptance of waste at SRS — a Cold War-era facility near Aiken that once helped produce nuclear weapons and now is spending millions to clean up waste after decades of acting as the nation’s dumping ground — said the plan would be unprecedented.


The Savannah River Site also is the subject of a heated funding battle between President Barack Obama and a bipartisan collection of South Carolina congressional leaders over a $7 billion project to reprocess weapons-grade plutonium into commercial fuel.

The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it would continue work on the mixed-oxide fuel (MOX) project until the end of the fiscal year in September but has said the project will cost too much and should be set aside as other options to honor non-proliferation treaties with Russia can be explored.

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