Friday, May 25, 2007

Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL) is currently scheduled to close when funding from the U.S. Department of Energy is exhausted at the end of this month. The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL) is a research unit of the University of Georgia located on the Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken, South Carolina. For more than 50 years ecologists and other scientists here have been doing research on the 803 km2 (310 mi2) SRS, a National Environmental Research Park (NERP).

The SREL has provided a unique opportunity for scientists to conduct studies in both near-pristine and contaminated areas, and more than 2,800 papers have been published in the scientific literature by the research faculty and staff at SREL. The subjects have included such varied topics as soil and water remediation, reptile and amphibian conservation, natural attenuation, and much more. It will be a tragedy not only for the University of Georgia but also for the Department of Energy and for the world scientific community if this laboratory in fact closes. Tasks important to long-term environmental stewardship of the Savannah River Site will not be completed. About 100 people will lose their jobs, hundreds affiliated with or dependent upon SREL research will be affected significantly, and tens of thousands of teachers, students, and members of the public who are touched by SREL education and outreach programs will lose out. SREL employees and programs funded by non-DOE grants will also be forced to move due to lack of funding to meet DOE mandated safety and security requirements. Presentations to regional schools, libraries, civic groups, and other organizations will end as will the independent, oversight studies SREL conducts and publishes on radiation effects, chemical releases, and environmental health.

(Text abbreviated from University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory statement - for a more timely blog posting on the projected closure see De Rerum Natura. Today there is news that Republican senators from both Georgia and South Carolina have signed a letter to the Secretary of Energy, Samuel Bodman, requesting that SREL funding be restored.)

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At 8:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The national laboratories, because they have been fenced off from the outside world for fifty or sixty years, have some wonderfully untouched land with protected species.

I had the privilege of working with some of these areas at Los Alamos. They were destroyed (changed?) in the Cerro Grande fire in 2000.

Now maybe lack of funding can do the same for Savannah River. :-(


At 8:59 AM , Blogger Don Thieme said...

I actually do not believe that there is a lack of funding. This is political, and the American taxpayer is going to wind up paying far more to do the same research through contracts with private companies that make large campaign donations. I even suspect that the university administration themselves may be in on this.

At 4:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah yes, the national laboratories as pork barrels. I've seen that too.



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