Sow The Wind:
Toxic Air Pollution from the Savannah River Site

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League released a study which shows that harmful levels of air pollution from the Savannah River Site are reaching nearby communities. The group published its results in a report titled Sow The Wind: Toxic Air Pollution from the Savannah River Site. The study utilized several methods to determine the pollution levels in the nearby communities of Aiken, New Ellenton, Jackson, and Williston. Air pollution impacts were calculated using EPA-developed computer models widely used by regulatory agencies and industry. Researchers captured air samples around SRS which revealed a variety of toxic compounds: hydrogen sulfide, toluene, styrene, acetone and carbon disulfide. The study also catalogued the historic releases of a wide variety of air pollutants which are emitted in large quantities from SRS, including radioactive tritium and toxic nitric acid, chloroform, trichloroethylene and many other pollutants. Author Lou Zeller said the principal lesson is that recent and ongoing operations at SRS are having and may continue to have negative impacts on the health of residents in the Central Savannah River Area.

The study makes the following recommendations:

1) Alert people to the ongoing hazards and half-hearted cleanup underway at SRS. The 50-year remediation program envisioned by the Department of Energy in the 1990’s was a more accurate assessment of the task at hand than the current plans of half that duration.

2) Take whatever steps are necessary to halt the spread of toxic and radioactive pollution of the soil, water and air. The clean up project must be comprehensive and should not trade one type of pollution for another.

3) Prevent the development and manufacture of new atomic weapons. Environmental damages and negative health impacts would result from a renewed reliance on SRS as a weapons plant. We question the conventional wisdom that says nuclear deterrence must be maintained, that national security is based on weapons of mass destruction, and that weapons plants are essential to our economy.