Bill in the House would strip jobs from Savannah River Site

News 12 First at Five / Friday, February 10, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- It's known as the SANE Act, and it's being introduced by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA). SANE stands for Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures.

The bill aims to cut a hundred billion dollars from nuclear weapons programs over the next 10 years.

Representative Joe Wilson, the Republican who represents Aiken County, says that the bill would strip funding from a project that's currently being constructed as Savannah River Site: the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility. The MOX facility is scheduled for completion in 2016. It's designed to convert nuclear weapons into nuclear fuel.

Representative Markey's bill specifically calls for the termination of the project by starving it of federal dollars.

Asked how far Representative Markey's bill will get in the House, Representative Wilson answered bluntly.

"Nowhere. To me, Chad, that creates a higher standard. If you're going to stop, you must have extraordinary compelling evidence that what's being done is not beneficial. The whole process of MOX is to convert the weapon's grade plutonium into commercial nuclear fuel," he said.

Wilson says his hesitations with MOX have now been answered. He was unsure if vendors would willingly purchased the fuel that MOX will produce from weapons after the disaster at Fukushima in Japan. Wilson says, now, there are vendors who are interested.

Wilson says MOX will create thousands of jobs in this area.

News 12 also spoke with Kevin Bishop who is a spokesman for Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). He doesn't believe the bill will gain any traction in the House. He says if it does make its way to the Senate, Senator Graham is ready to defeat it.

Representative Wilson says $3 billion has been spent on the MOX facility construction so far. He says that's another reason why Representative Markey's bill shouldn't pass.

Wednesday, Markey also opposed the Construction and Operating License (COL) for Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4.

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