MOX Project costs at SRS worry some lawmakers; Sen. Graham still optimistic

News 12
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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Friday, June 17, 2011

SAVANNAH RIVER SITE-The MOX Facility at Savannah River Site is slowly coming to form.

"This project has been underway for about 15 years now. They still haven't disposed of any of the plutonium that's been brought into the Savannah River Site," said Tom Clements, Southeastern Nuclear Campaign Coordinator for the non-profit organization Friends of the Earth.

He says the program is hurting taxpayers like him.

"The MOX plan itself-DOE still claims that the cost of it is around 4.9 billion, but the overall cost of the MOX program is nearing 10 billion dollars," he told News 12.

The program is all about converting nuclear weapons into nuclear fuel. That nuclear fuel could be used in reactors throughout the country to make power. But after the events in Japan, commercial companies have been more hesitant to invest in MOX fuel.

"If it's not going to be producing any product that's going to be used it ought to be terminated now rather than wasting billions of more dollars," said Clements.

Clements' concerns about the MOX Facility were also brought up in Washington this week. Some members of the House of Representatives Energy and Water Subcommittee which appropriates money to the MOX project were a little more hesitant to do so this time around.

Even though the subcommittee ultimately passed the measure to continue MOX funding, some of its members warned in a report that SRS needs to prove that the MOX Program is not becoming "expensive and wasteful."

"Sixty-something tons of weapons-grade plutonium off the market-that to me is priceless in this age of international terrorism," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

He says the program will not only get rid of dangerous nuclear materials, but it'll also create 500 permanent jobs at SRS, plus thousands of construction jobs.

"These are jobs that will be given to the local community. We're not importing people," Senator Graham told News 12.

He and other members of Congress are happy with what they've seen so far.