Monday, July 28, 2014
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- Legislators say they have come up with the money to make sure the MOX project at Savannah River Site continues to move forward.
A tour of the facility included South Carolina Senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, Representative Joe Wilson, Governor Nikki Haley and Department of Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz. Construction began on the mixed-oxide fuel facility back in 2007 as part of an agreement to turn weapons-grade plutonium into cleaner, safer fuel. But cost overruns and construction delays have made the project a target for budget cuts.
In President Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget, the project was set to be immediately put into cold stand-by mode. The state of South Carolina sued, saying money to build the plant couldn't be used to shut it down, and the administration has committed to continuing construction into the fall, when the current fiscal year ends. Eventually that lawsuit was dropped when funding was found to keep the construction running through September. Now, leaders are saying they have found to money to keep it moving through the next fiscal year
"It won't go to cold standby as far as we can tell," Senator Scott said.
He said there was already a House of Representatives proposal that includes money to keep construction on track. A continuing resolution that will be finalized in the Senate has the funding as well, leaders said.
"There's money for MOX," Senator Graham said. "There is no cheaper alternative to MOX, and now is not the time to break an agreement with the Russians."
Moniz said that both sides need to continue talks to find exactly where that funding stream will come from but that a long-term funding source would be better for everyone.