Obama budget slashes MOX funding, says project "may be unaffordable"

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By MEG KINNARD — Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The Obama administration's budget slashes funding for a plutonium reprocessing project in South Carolina and questions the viability of the multi-billion-dollar effort.

The budget request sent Wednesday to Congress is seeking $503 million for the mixed-oxide fuel plant being built at the Savannah River Site -- $200 million less than last year's funding.

The plant is part of an international nonproliferation effort, with the United States and Russia committed to disposing of at least 34 metric tons each of weapons-grade plutonium to be turned into commercial nuclear reactor fuel.

The project has undergone years of delays, and the Government Accountability Office says the plant is $3 billion over budget. In its request, the administration says it supports the theory behind the project but says it "may be unaffordable."

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