A New York congressman is requesting an environmental-impact statement, or EIS, for a Department of Energy proposal that, if passed, could transport more than 6,000 gallons of highly-enriched uranium from Ontario, Canada, to the Savannah River Site.
U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, R-N.Y., spoke Thursday on the House floor and said the DOE proposal would include sending the highly-enriched uranium across the Peace Bridge – an international bridge that connects the U.S. and Canada – through western New York, and down to South Carolina.
Higgins said the liquid form of the material is more radioactive and complicated to transfer.
“A major contamination in the Buffalo-Niagara region could potentially result, exacting dire consequences on the Great Lakes, the Niagara Power Project and greater Buffalo-Niagara population,” Higgins said.
He added that an EIS would provide a road map to make informed decisions, which he believes is especially important in this case.
“A plan that carries this level of risk should not be done without a thorough review. The Department of Energy must undertake a formal environmental impact statement before proceeding,” he said.
Earlier reports on the highly-enriched uranium, or HEU, state that if it arrives at SRS, it would be shipped to H-Canyon to be reprocessed into nuclear fuel.
The transactions between the two countries are part of an agreement between President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The two agreed to expand efforts to return HEU materials stored at the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario to facilities in the United States.
The Savannah River Site has also been making headlines recently over possibly receiving German shipments of HEU.
Those shipments of fuel are part of the Atoms for Peace Program, initiated under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, to make the uranium available to all countries that wanted it for research. Part of the agreement is that the U.S. would eventually accept the material back, which is why SRS surfaced as a potential location.
The Energy Department recently ended a comment period for citizens to offer their take on the German fuel and is expected to open up another opportunity for comments after more evaluation.
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.
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