Next month, January 2013, marks the beginning of the 113th Congress of the United States, and with that we in the CSRA need to ask a question to help the members of this congress begin to help us: OK, new Congress, What about SRS?
The United States’ Savannah River Site, our “SRS,” occupying and controlling major portions of Aiken, Barnwell, and Allendale counties in South Carolina, was a major contributor of fissionable nuclear materials that allowed the United States to remain the major nuclear power in the world during the so-called “Cold War.” Beginning in 1953, thousands of scientists, engineers, and technical managers from all over the country moved to our Central Savannah River Area, the “CSRA,” to build and staff a new nuclear arms facility that was used to overwhelm the capabilities of similar facilities being built and operated by the USSR, the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,” led prominently by Russia. The USSR was, of course, our cold war opponent. Although the cold war is over (almost everyone will agree we “won” this one hands down,) the SRS, for the most part missionless, remains–denying South Carolina the use of about 310 square miles of prime agricultural, industrial, and woodlands property.
One major impediment to the return of this property to South Carolina is the existence of a legacy of nuclear materials and nuclear waste materials being maintained at SRS. These materials no longer have a reason to be at SRS–it is just where they either were generated or were trucked in for “temporary” storage. While a certain amount of nuclear waste material has been removed from the site and taken to other permitted areas and areas that congress had designated for permanent maintenance of certain given materials (see low level waste depositories, and transuranic wastes,) a major problem, high level nuclear waste, remains.
High level waste removal was stymied, apparently due to political considerations of the NIMBY persuasion, when President Obama, in accordance with the wishes of Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid (Democrat from Nevada) terminated consideration of sending the wastes to the (formerly?) designated repository at Yucca Mountain. Senator Reed did not seem to object to the project to dig tunnels into his mountain, along with the ensuing employment opportunities for his constituents. His objections arose when the prospect of using the tunnels for their intended purposes became imminent–or so it seems.
We South Carolineans can appreciate Senator Reed’s position, since we don’t want the stuff in our back yard either. Maybe, though, if it could be buried several thousand feet below ground, considering the jobs such a project would generate, we should consider keeping these wastes. Perhaps the President and the Senator (and the Congress) would consider coming up with the needed funding. Were this to come to pass, a major problem to using most of the 310 square miles would be minimized. Other uses then could be seriously considered. One of our requests, then, to the 113th Congress should be for the needed funds to permit high level waste storage below our state, especially since Yucca Mountain seems to be off limits and storage deep below the surface beats the current surface storage we seem to have been stuck with.
Another possible use that was once designated for the site was to use it as a National Environmental Research Park. But, even though the designation was made, not much has been done to implement it in a comprehensive, meaningful way. While designation was not deemed to be much of a problem, funding, again, seems to be a different story. Perhaps this, too, is something the 113th Congress should be asked to consider.
Finally, considering the fiscal problems we are having, possibly the site should be sold. Horse farm acreage in Aiken County can be had for several thousand dollars an acre. Maybe the Argentinians and middle-eastern horse fancying Sultans would consider a collaboration to make the site into a first class Horse Park–one that would blow away horse facilities currently in existence. All they would need to do would be pay the federal government their $3000, or so, an acre and move in. Given a need of approximately 10 square miles for the high level waste project, the government would net approximately 576 million dollars in the deal to apply to our national debt. Other benefits from such a sale would be the taxable income from the horse park, the jobs that personnel needed to run the park would have, and the taxable real estate our county governments would gain to boot. Of course, if the horse park were not to come to pass, other developers would surely wish to buy this property for their own purposes. What’s not to like here? All the 113th Congress would have do would be to come up with the needed enabling legislation. Surely our Republicans and Democrats could work together, perhaps while they are attending to the national debt, to make this a reality.
If you like any of these ideas, write your current representatives and ask that they pass them along to the appropriate parties in the 113th Congress. Better yet, ask them to personally sponsor the needed legislation. If you live arouind Aiken, the following list of email addresses of our representatives, might be helpful. Of course if you have your own ideas about what we should be asking the new Congress for, send them to your congressional representatives too, and also send them to me. I’ll pass them on to all who might stumble onto this column later on in January. Of course, you can help with notifying your fellow South Carolineans about this proposal by passing on a copy of this column to your email friends. Who knows–perhaps we might even go viral. Wouldn’t that be something!
http://www.demint.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=CommentOnLegislationIssues [Till his resignation becomes effective]
https://timscott.house.gov/contact [Jim Demint replacement. Use Myrtle Beach zip code 29577-3119 to get around district 1 requirement. This address will change when Rep. Scott makes his move to the Senate]
http://www.speaker.gov/contact [Speaker of the House Boehner]
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments [President Obama]
http://www.facebook.com/messages/HarryReid [Senate Majority Leader Reid via Facebook]
If you got this far, thanks. If you wish to contact me with other ideas for our 113th Congress, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any suggestions you might have will be welcomed. Sincerely!
Steve–and thanks for “examining” rootshed.com.