News 12 at 6 o'clock, February 21, 2008
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Changes could be on the way at the Savannah River Site, but several groups of protesters say it's a bad change.
There were two open house meetings with the Department of Energy on Thursday at the North Augusta Community Center. Lots of people were ready to voice their opinion on rebuilding nuclear weapon complexes at sites across the United States, including SRS.
"The DOE always rolls into South Carolina offering whatever they have to offer as a job program. This week, it's to build weapons of mass destruction," said protester Leslie Minerd. "We're setting a bad example to the rest of the world. If we can do it, they can do it."
Protesters wore pig costumes to represent pork barrel politics, projects which people think waste taxpayers' money.
"(We're) looking at ways to transform the nuclear weapon complex to make it more safe, more secure, more responsive as well as cost less," said National Nuclear Security Administration's Ted Wyka.
"Are we safer?" asked Minerd. "Do you feel safer since 9/11? Do you feel safer? The alternative is to spend our tax dollars for people of the United States, not for defense contractors, and clean up the Savannah River Site. Not build it up."
"We are not bringing weapons here to the Savannah River Site," Wyka said.
"They produce parts at one place and parts at another place and they put it all together," Minerd said.
Henry Gurr knows SRS well. He is a former employee there.
"Accidents happen," he said. "Terrorists will get a hold of those weapons. The more they are going around, the more likely something is going to happen."
So, what do the proposed changes mean for SRS? The DOE says they would be able to further research and the development of hydrogen technology.
"How about some research and development into some really good clean up?" Minerd said. "That's what I'd really like to see. To clean it up and make South Carolina safe. Then, I'll feel safer."
"Stop the insanity. Slow down our nuclear weapons. That is how you make us more secure," Gurr said.
So, protesters are saying they do not want weapons to come to the Savannah River Site. While DOE officials are saying there are no plans right now to bring any weapons onto the site. Just to consolidate.
There are 18 other meetings across the US planned at which you can make your voice heard. You can also write to the DOE with your comments and suggestions until April 10, 2008.
Mr. Theodore Wyka
Complex Transformation SPEIS Document Manager,
Office of Transformation, NA-10.1
U.S. Department of Energy/NNSA
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20585
Note: Comment period ends April 10, 2008