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Nuclear Waste is NOT OK for WNC

Dear Mountain Friends and Neighbors, 
There is great concern about the transport and dumping of High Level Nuclear Waste here in the mountains of Western North Carolina.  Here’s more information.

Please let the Blue Ribbon Commision know that nuclear waste transport and dumping does not support our goals of building a sustainable economy, protecting our environment, or safeguarding our public and individual health.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) is compiling information on many issues,  chief among them is whether to build a nuclear reprocessing plant near Aiken, SC at the Savannah River Site in the United States.  They will present their findings & draft recommendations on July 1, 2011.  
For sample emails to BRC, please see Please see a list of links posted (including a printable flyer) that give more background information about this serious issue. Also, posted below see overview, “A High Level Nuclear Waste Site in Buncombe County? Not So Impossible”

“Nuclear Waste Knows No Boundaries” flyer for printing

Backgrounder on nuclear waste situation + WNC

Physicians for Social Responsibility letter to BRC opposing centralized storage of radioactive waste

Ned Doyle’s Mountain Xpress blog – BRC meeting in Augusta, GA January 2011

WNC Physicians for Social Responsibility

Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Local nonprofit creating awareness about WNC and nuclear waste

Blue ribbon commission set up by Obama

First meeting of brc

Brief history of nuclear energy

President Obama called for a clean energy future in his State of the Union speech that included the development of wind, solar, clean coal, and nuclear energy. He has created a Blue Ribbon Commission to study the energy future of  nuclear power in the United States.  This commission is conducting public hearings nationwide until March 1, 2011 and then presenting a report of recommendations to the White House on July 1, 2011.  A Commission hearing in Augusta, GA in January was attended by a busload of thirty four concerned citizens of Western North Carolina.  Reasons for concern were twofold.

First, there  is a proposal to make the Savannah River nuclear site a major reprocessing center for nuclear waste in the United States in what would be called the Savannah River “Energy Park”.   South Carolina businesses want this federally funded nuclear economy and already have community college training programs to support the reprocessing industry. Nuclear waste would be transported from nuclear power plants in the northern and western United States via I-26 and I-40 through Asheville to South Carolina for reprocessing and then transported again to a high level nuclear waste storage facility.

The second cause for concern for the citizens attending the Blue Ribbon Commission hearing is that Sandy Mush Valley in Buncombe County is a possible location for that high level nuclear waste site based on past history and close proximity to the nuclear fuel reprocessing center in South Carolina.  The Department of Energy conducted extensive surveys of potential high level nuclear waste sites in the 1970s and 1980s and found Sandy Mush to be one of the twelve optimum sites on the east coast due to the high concentration of crystalline granite in the valley.  Of the sites singled out, Sandy Mush is the closest to South Carolina making it an even more favorable high level nuclear waste storage repository.  Transporting nuclear waste is risky and distance is a primary factor in assessing safety.  A later 1988 study by the North Carolina Geological Survey found Sandy Mush to be unsuitable as a nuclear waste disposal site, yet no subsequent studies have suggested better alternatives.

Some of the attendees at the hearing were members of the Western North Carolina Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.  They maintain along with their national chapter that the best place to store nuclear waste for the time being is on site at the nuclear power plant.  This storage method results in the least possibility of contamination due to transportation accidents, additional sites to contaminate, and security risks of hijacking of the fuel.  With ongoing research and development, new technologies will appear to better deal with high level nuclear waste disposal.  Currently no waste disposal methods have been safe and effective.

These mountains we call home have an allure that brings millions of people  here every year.  Tourism is our dominant industry as the area continues to attract a population seeking the beauty of nature and environmental awareness  that makes the area a mecca for outdoor activity.  Shipments of high level nuclear waste traveling in large containers on flatbed trucks through our communities is an accident waiting to happen.  A high level nuclear waste facility in Buncombe County would threaten the economic stability of the area and, equally, our quality of life. 

For more information or to get involved go to:

Nuclear Information and Resource Service- and  Western North Carolina Physicians for Social Responsibility-

Paul Gallimore, Director
Long Branch Environmental Education Center           
POB 369                Big Sandy Mush Creek    
Leicester, NC 28748          
Tel. 828/683-3662              Fax: 828/683-9211            
Web Site:

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