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Group opposes bringing German nuclear material through Charleston to Savannah River Site via The Post and Courier

A proposed plan to ship uranium from Germany to Joint Base Charleston, then send the nuclear material along to the Savannah River Site by railroad, was denounced Tuesday by a citizens group.

In a 10-9 vote, the SRS Citizens Advisory Board recommended opposing the receipt of 900 kilograms of uranium. Two members abstained. The board, known as the CAB, met Tuesday at the Courtyard Charleston.

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The uranium is “highly enriched,” meaning it is pure enough to make nuclear weapons. It is of U.S. origin but was sent to Germany in the 1950s for research purposes as part of the Atoms for Peace program.

Under the program, the U.S. agreed to take the uranium back, and use facilities at SRS to convert it into a form that can’t be used to make weapons. But the CAB, among other stakeholders, is against having the material come to South Carolina.

The recommendation says bringing more nuclear materials to SRS is not in the best interest of the public.

The site already houses uranium, and plutonium, along with tens of millions of gallons of radioactive liquid waste that dates back to the Cold War. That waste is stored in aging waste tanks and is considered by state health officials to be South Carolina’s most dangerous environmental threat.

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Despite the board’s opposition to receiving the uranium, SRS is expected to see more nuclear materials in the future. Under the U.S. Global Threat Reduction Initiative, which launched in 2004, plans already are in motion to remove 1,431 kilograms of plutonium and uranium from foreign countries by 2022, with expectations for SRS to see most, if not all, of the material.

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