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nuclear materials

  • Federal officials have granted a factory in South Carolina a license to keep making fuel for nuclear plants for 40 years. The Westinghouse facility in Columbia is just one of three in the country making atomic fuel rods. Environmental groups had fought the new license. They said if the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission was going to renew the license, it should only be for 20 years because of environmental and safety problems. Those issues included nuclear material leaking through the plant floor and groundwater pollution. But federal officials say a recent environmental study found only small to moderate environmental impacts could be expected from the plant through 2062.
  • The Biden administration has affirmed a Trump administration interpretation of high-level radioactive waste that is based on the waste's radioactivity rather than how it was produced. The U.S. Department of Energy announcement last week means some radioactive waste from nuclear weapons production stored for decades in Idaho, Washington and South Carolina could be reclassified and moved for permanent storage elsewhere. The agency also last week issued documents based on the new interpretation to move some contaminated equipment from the South Carolina site.
  • Along with billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 relief money, South Carolina lawmakers have another large bonus pot of money to spend soon. The state is getting $525 million from the federal government over plutonium still being store at the Savannah River Site. The highly radioactive material was supposed to leave by 2017, although that deadline is now 2037.
  • Watchdog groups sued the Biden administration Tuesday over its plans to produce plutonium cores for the U.S. nuclear stockpile, arguing federal agencies have failed to conduct a detailed environmental review of potential impacts around installations in New Mexico and South Carolina.