Appellate Court Rules Against Barnwell Site and DHEC

A Barnwell Nuclear Disposal Facility has 90 days to comply with regulations or its license is revoked.

The ruling came from the South Carolina Court of Appeals following a decade-long battle brought on by the state's Sierra Club.

Earlier this year, DHEC said low-levels of the radioactive chemical, Tritium, were migrating from the site through the groundwater.Though the levels are under regulatory limits, Susan Corbett says any radiation is harmful.

"This is a very short-sighted thing we've done here," said Corbett. "We're not thinking about the generations that come after us, we're not thinking about the people that are drinking the water in the Savannah River, which is a lot of people. What eventually is going to happen with all of this stuff is if it's contained and truly kept isolated from the environment?"

Mark Walker of Energy Solutions who oversees Chem-Nuclear released a statement today saying, "We are reviewing the ruling and will formally respond at the appropriate time to the courts. We are committed to safety and compliance at the Barnwell Disposal Facility."

Corbett says Chem-Nuclear has many options that would bring it into compliance, but they're costly. She adds that while it's not surprising for a business to try and increase profits, she's most disappointed with DHEC.

"We feel like they have be an enabler in this process and have not stood up for what's right and have not been strong and told the industry they must change their practices," said Corbett.

DHEC spokesman Mark Plowden disagrees. The department also issued a statement saying, "DHEC diligently enforces the regulations to ensure the facility is operated in a safe manner and closely monitors compliance at the facility."

They go on to explain that practices have been implemented to reduce the chemical's migration.

Corbett says this is a good first step, but the fight is far from over.

"This is a great ruling, but this is not the end," said Corbett. "We're only very cautiously optimistic that we're going to see an end to these bad practices."


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