BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGYS FY2000 BUDGET FUNDS SAVANNAH RIVER PLUTONIUM FUEL PROJECT
February 3, 1999
Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson announced that the United States Department of Energys operating budget for fiscal year 2000 includes $28.8 million to begin work on the Pit Disassembly and Conversion facility at Savannah River. It includes additional funding for a facility which would fabricate plutonium into fuel for domestic, commercial reactors and a plant to immobilize plutonium in ceramic surrounded by vitrified high level waste.
Opponents pointed out the contradictions in a budget which allocates funds for both the wider use of and the protection from weapons grade nuclear isotopes. The use of tax monies for plutonium fuel use and tritium production in domestic utility reactors is at cross-purposes with non-proliferation and counter-terrorism funding, said Lou Zeller of BREDLs Southern Anti-Plutonium Campaign. We cannot prime the plutonium pump here and expect other nations not to follow our example.
The budget also contains funding provisions for highly enriched uranium purchases and plutonium disposition work in Russia; to prevent the theft, sale or diversion of nuclear materials or expertise; and reflects DOEs selection of Tennessee Valley Authoritys commercial light water reactors for the production of tritium for weapons.
DOEs FY2000 budget totals $17.8 billion, a 4.1 % increase over 1999.
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