World-Renowned Savannah River Ecology Lab For Ecological Research And Environmental Education To Close End Of May

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Lives of herps at stake…
World-Renowned Savannah River Ecology Lab For Ecological Research And
Environmental Education To Close End Of May

Department Of Energy, D.C. With Holds Funds

Thousands Of Animals (Mostly Reptiles And Amphibians) Have To Find Homes Or
Will Be Euthanized By End Of May, This Month.


Despite the 56 years of support from the Department of Energy (or its
equivalent) for the work of the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory’s work,
current funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will be exhausted
at the end of May 2007 and the lab will be forced to close.

During the 56 years over 3,000 papers in peer-reviewed publications have
been published based on research done at SREL: studies on the environmental
implications of the use of nuclear materials, chemicals, remediation, the
effects of environmental contamination, restoring degraded habitats and
environmental stewardship.

Because of the pending closing of SREL a memo was sent out Monday by ecology
lab director Paul Bertsch informing SREL employees to develop a disposition
plan for the animals associated with the outreach program

The memo further stated, “Obviously our first choice is to transfer animals
to other private and public organizations that can properly care for them. I
am aware that this will not be possible in many instances and plans to
euthanize these animals will have to be developed.”

So besides the great loss of knowledge, and training of future environmental
scientists, the closing of SREL will cause, closing the SREL would mean that
homes for thousands of herps will have to be given away or euthanized.

These include all kinds of herps, such as more than 1,000 turtles, including
both federally and internationally endangered species from as far away as


During the past year, SREL has worked with Savannah River Site (SRS)
representatives to implement a new 5-year cooperative agreement with
task-based funding, similar to what has been used for the past 20+ years.
According to written and verbal communications from DOE, the funds have been
budgeted for SREL tasks that have been underway since September 2006 and the
funds are actually at the SRS to complete these tasks, however, the funds
have not been released to SREL. The decision to hold back funding from SREL
is solely due to officials at DOE Headquarters in Washington DC who seem
determined to cut off all DOE funding for SREL regardless of the nature of
the tasks proposed and agreed upon with SRS managers.


SREL programs are more important than ever. Independent environmental
evaluation is critical for SRS programs that will process new nuclear
materials brought to the SRS and current SRS processes that will leave
residual high-level waste in place forever. SREL researchers are funded by
many other agencies, but the core mission of SREL remains independent
environmental evaluation of SRS activities and long-term stewardship of the
SRS. DOE Officials in Washington DC are forcing the local SRS managers to
discontinue funding for an environmental program that has benefited the SRS,
people of the Aiken-Augusta area, and the entire country for more than half
a century.


Besides the unknown fate of thousands of animals, all tasks that SRS
managers have identified as important to long-term environmental stewardship
of the 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 in May, as will all funding for
SREL student programs on the SRS. The independent, oversight studies SREL
conducts and publishes on radiation effects, chemical releases, and
environmental health will also be terminated at the end of May.


All citizens, wherever you live, including researchers, parents, teachers,
and children, who want to urge DOE to release the funding for SREL to
continue tasks agreed upon with SRS managers should contact individuals who
could make this happen. The more people who express their concern, the more
likely it is that action will be taken. You may contact the individuals
listed below, write letters to newspapers, or inform anyone else you think
should know. One suggestion is to write a short letter that you can email,
surface mail, and fax. Then make a telephone call. Then do it again.

If are allowed to use the stationary of an NGO, related organization,
university, use it. In all correspondence mention all professional

Bombard the following people with correspondence. Write, fax and email if
you can.

Jeffrey M. Allison
Manager, Savannah River Operations Office Savannah River Site Aiken, SC 29801
Phone: (803) 952-6337
Fax: (803) 952-8144

Samuel W. Bodman
Secretary of Energy
Forrestal Building, U.S. Department of Energy 1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585
Phone: (202) 586-6210 or (1-800-342-5363)
Fax: (202) 586-4403

Representative Gresham Barrett
Aiken Office
233 Pendleton Street, NW
Aiken, SC 29801
Phone: 803-649-5571
Fax: 803-648-9038
For email go to and click Contact Gresham

Senator Lindsey Graham
Midlands Regional Office
508 Hampton Street, Suite 202
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
phone: (803) 933-0112
For email go to… and
click on e-mail

Representative John Barrow
699 Broad Street, Suite 1200
Augusta, GA 30901
Phone: 706 722-4494 Toll free: 800 890-6236
Fax: 706 722-4496
For email go to and click Contact John

In general, to find a congressman/woman:

To find a senator:

South Carolina Senators:

Georgia Senators:

For those who live in/near Aiken SC: or

For those who live in/near Augusta GA:

For those who live in/near Columbia SC:

For those who live in/near Athens GA:…

University of Georgia administrators who should know about your support of
Michael F. Adams
President, University of Georgia
Telephone: 706/ 542-1214

Arnett C. Mace, Jr.
UGA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Telephone: 706/ 542-5806

Please also cc your letters to:

Many have asked if SREL has a prepared letter for people to send to the
Secretary of Energy and congressional representatives regarding the SREL
budget situation. We do not have a form letter, mostly because we feel
individual letters carry more weight. However, we have received copies of
numerous letters that have been sent to us from individuals having a variety
of connections with SREL. If you would like to see these letters, please

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