A German legislative body is against the shipment of German fuel to the U.S., and possibly to the Savannah River Site, for several reasons, including that the U.S. has not secured a repository for radioactive waste.
In a letter dated July 22, Sylvia Kotting-Uhl, a member of the German legislative body, Bundestag, wrote that the plan to send highly-enriched uranium, or HEU, to the U.S. is “neither understandable nor acceptable.”
Kotting-Uhl sent the letter to Johanna Wanka, a German politician and the federal minister of education and research.
“Any transportation of the fuel elements puts the public and the environment in danger,” wrote Kotting-Uhl. “Exporting the elements to temporary storage in the USA contradicts the principle of avoiding nuclear transport where possible and thus minimizing the risk it represents.”
Kotting-Uhl mentioned other reasons the group disapproves of the plan, including that the waste is supposed to be disposed of in Germany rather than shipped overseas.
“Reprocessing abroad is prohibited by the Atomic Energy Act of 2005. Export of the spent fuel elements would violate the principles we have committed to ... ” wrote Kotting-Uhl.
The German fuel controversy began making headlines earlier this year with local advocates maintaining that SRS is the safest place for the fuel and that the shipments would add jobs to handle the task of disposing of the uranium. Naysayers have said the fuel is unwanted at the Site and that shipping the fuel overseas to SRS is unsafe.
The Energy Department is considering making SRS the destination for the fuel. If that deal goes through, DOE would install, in H-Canyon at SRS, a system capable of chemically removing the graphite from the fuel kernels using a technology being developed by the Savannah River National Laboratory.
The issue dates back to the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration when the U.S. sent HEU to various countries for research purposes as part of the Atoms for Peace program.
The agreement states the HEU will eventually return to the U.S., which is why SRS surfaced as a potential location.
Derrek Asberry is the SRS beat reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the paper since June 2013.