Recovery Funds Speed Nuclear Cleanup

The Department of Energy reports that the cleanup of nuclear waste in South Carolina is moving ahead and creating hundreds of jobs with the help of Federal Recovery Funds. It is a little more than half complete today.

Recovery funds are accelerating the cleanup of contaminated facilities, soil, and ground water at one of the nation’s key nuclear weapons sites.

During the early 1950s, the Savannah River Site (SRS) produced tritium and plutonium-239 to be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.


Since the 1990s, the Department of Energy (DOE) has been working to clean up contamination on the 310-square-mile site in South Carolina. Recovery funds totaling $1.6 billion are allowing DOE to accelerate these clean-up efforts. DOE says the Recovery funds — from six separate awards — will reduce the SRS footprint by 75 percent by 2012, seven years earlier than previously planned.

It is amazing how large of an area is contaminated or otherwise impacted by these nuclear facilities — 310-square-miles!

Just one segment of the project, which already is completed, had 23 buildings spread over 40-square-miles. Quick trivia check: 40-square-miles is the same as 25,000 acres and…

  1. Twice the area of Manhattan, NY
  2. The same area targeted in the 2003 hunt for Osama bin Laden
  3. The same area as Walt Disney World Resort
  4. The same area as the vacant, abandoned lots in Detroit, MI
  5. All of the above

Imagine if $1.6 billion was earmarked by the federal government for the same 310-square-miles to fund innovation and production instead of just reclamation (making the area usable again). Although innovation and jobs for reclamation are notable, this is a good example of the back-end costs that are sunk into fixing pollution.

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