Savannah River Ecology Lab In Jeopardy

The Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL) is a nearly 60 years old ecological research and environmental education center run by the University of Georgia at the Savannah River Site (SRS), a DOE nuclear facility. The SREL has been operating since the Department of Energy acquired towns, farmlands, and forests along the Savannah River to start the site in 1951. It was operating even before SRS went nuclear.

SREL is a very important biological research station, and one of the few places (perhaps the only one) in which long term and large scale ecological experiments and studies have taken place. There is little comparison to the wealth of data that the SREL has generated for ecologists.

It is therefore not surprising that our anti-science administration in Washington is trying to shut SREL down, in spite of the continued support of SREL by SRS. SRS has obtained funding for the SREL, but unqualified political appointees in Washington are preventing SRS from releasing the funds. Unless those funds are released, SREL will be forced to close its doors by the end of the month.

I’ll post a detailed email that I received below. Please contact your representatives asking for the funds to be released and an investigation into the hold up.

Update: Other Sites on this Issue

  1. The Austringer: War On Science Continues: Savannah River Ecology Laboratory on Chopping Block
  2. Thoughts From Kansas: Save the SREL
  3. blustrydaz: This is really not good! (my graduate research is here!) If you get the chance, pls write a letter!
  4. evolgen: DOE to Cut Funding to Major Environmental Research Laboratory
  5. unicorn genome project: The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory
  6. The herptile blog: Lives Of Thousands Of Herps At Stake If Federal Government Closes Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL)
  7. The Evilutionary Biologist: Take Action to Save the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

Here is the email that I received.

The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory’s 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. The DOE or its equivalent has supported SREL for ecological research and environmental education for 56 years.

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.

If DOE funding is not restored immediately, SREL will be forced to close. All SREL animals will need to be transferred or euthanized by the end of May. 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, 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.

Jeffrey M. Allison
Manager, Savannah River Operations Office
Savannah River Site
Aiken, SC 29801
Phone: (803) 952-6337
Fax: (803) 952-8144
e-mail: [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

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
e-mail: [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

Representative Gresham Barrett
Aiken Office
233 Pendleton Street, NW
Aiken, SC 29801
Phone: 803-649-5571
Fax: 803-648-9038
For email go to http://www.barrett.house.gov/ 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 http://lgraham.senate.gov/index.cfm?mode=contact… 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 http://barrow.house.gov/ and click Contact John

In general, to find a congressman/woman: http://www.house.gov/

To find a senator: http://www.senate.gov/index.htm

South Carolina Senators:
http://lgraham.senate.gov/
http://demint.senate.gov/

Georgia Senators:
http://chambliss.senate.gov/public/index.cfm
http://isakson.senate.gov/

For those who live in/near Aiken SC: http://www.barrett.house.gov/ or http://joewilson.house.gov/

For those who live in/near Augusta GA: http://barrow.house.gov/

For those who live in/near Columbia SC: http://clyburn.house.gov/index2.cfm

For those who live in/near Athens GA: http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/vacancies_pr.…

University of Georgia administrators who should know about your
support of SREL:
Michael F. Adams
President, University of Georgia
Telephone: 706/ 542-1214
e-mail: [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

Arnett C. Mace, Jr.
UGA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Telephone: 706/ 542-5806
e-mail: [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

Please also cc your letters to: [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

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 e-mail:

[Enable javascript to see this email address.]

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://scit.us/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/929.
Sent by Thoughts from Kansas on May 2, 2007 12:37 PM

Reed Cartwright found out that a vital ecological research facility may be closed. The Savannah River Ecological Laboratory is operated by University of Georgia on land owned by the US Department of Energy. The DoE had a plutonium processing facility t... [Read More]

Sent by The Austringer on June 7, 2007 12:02 PM

There is news that officials in the Department of Energy (DOE) have decided to simply stop funding the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL), such that SREL will have to close down operations by the end of next month. At issue, apparently, is SREL&#... [Read More]

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Posted by JIM MACKEY on May 2, 2007 10:34 AM

I have been fighting for SREL for the past few years and I am the thorn that exposed a lot of this that is happening to SREL. I cannot put all of it out on here but if anyone wants to talk my email is there for all to see. I would like everyone to know that I am working as hard as I know how with all of my resources to get a reversal from DOE on SREL. I believe that they are making a colossal mistake and that they could be advertantly closing an institution that may come back to haunt them to no end politically and financially.

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on May 2, 2007 10:48 AM

Only I can see your email. However, since you want it released, I’ll post it in a comment.

[Enable javascript to see this email address.]

Posted by Laura on May 6, 2007 8:11 PM

If you are interested in reading more about the SREL closure, go to:
www.savesrel.org

You can read the written promises from DOE to SREL related to FY07 funding levels–promises that have been broken. More will be added over the next several days.

The only way to save SREL is for YOU to contact Congress and DOE and let them know what a short-sighted decision this would be.

Posted by Laura on May 19, 2007 10:39 AM

SREL update:

The “Friends of SREL” thank everyone who has sent e-mails, written letters, and made phone calls in support of the Lab. Traffic on the www.savesrel.org website is high, and the site is updated daily with new information—please visit often for the latest. This is a critical time in the effort to save SREL. Although a Congressional investigation has been launched into DOE’s actions and press coverage is increasing, the UGA upper administration is still intent on closing the Lab down–an interesting tactic given that they are also poised to launch a new “Eugene P. Odum School of Ecology” on the Athens campus. I fail to see how they can expect the new ecology school to have much prestige if it is built on the ruins of one of Odum’s proudest professional accomplishments—SREL. PLEASE continue all your efforts on SREL’s behalf—you ARE making a difference! Contact with your Congressional delegations will be especially helpful, particularly if they are members of the House Committee on Science and Technology.

Posted by Don Thieme on May 25, 2007 8:38 AM

For some reason, I just heard about this yesterday on the radio. I put up a post this morning. I am going to add you to my Technorati feed, though. I hope that we can do something about it, but I fear the lab has succumbed to petty politics.

Posted by Monado on June 7, 2007 3:06 AM

Mobilize! Before blogging, the Canadian Science Writers made enough publicity writing articles about the Conservative provincial government’s plan to shut down a long-term study of pesticides in gulls’ eggs, that the decision was reversed.