- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 5, 2014

A group of activists say that Energy Department oversight of nuclear activities has now become so bad that they’re taking matters into their own hands.

Organizers of the Savannah River Site Watch said they hope the new website will help improve public scrutiny of the DOE’s South Carolina research facility of the same name.

“As it is the Department of Energy’s nature to operate outside public scrutiny, our job will be to highlight to SRS programs that warrant public attention and involvement,” said Tom Clements, the group’s director and a former government employee.

The Energy Department has often been criticized for its handling of the various research sites around the nation, and critics have said there is a culture of lax scientific standards that put citizens at risk and waste taxpayer money.

In February, the Savannah River Site won the Golden Hammer award for fiscal waste from The Washington Times for allowing the cost of construction of a nuclear fuel facility to balloon by $3 billion for no reason that investigators could find.

Last year, the South Carolina state government threatened to fine DOE for failing to clean up nuclear waste at an old SRS facility. The clean-up was supposed to be done by 2023, but work has progressed so slowly that the agency now expects it won’t be done until the 2040’s, angering state lawmakers.

SRS Watch is being run by Fairewinds, a non-profit that seeks to “educate the public about nuclear power and other energy issues.” Organizers said they will monitor clean-up of nuclear waste, purchases of nuclear materials from overseas and aging nuclear infrastructure.

“Given the host of environmental problems and proliferation threats associated with the Savannah River Site, we felt it was time to increase public interest monitoring efforts by creating a new oversight organization,” said Frances Close, the organization’s president. “We will advocate for essential cleanup programs and challenge DOE and NNSA on projects that are unnecessary, ill-conceived and a waste of tax dollars.”

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