Judge blocks planned shutdown of Savannah River Site project

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Thursday, June 7, 2018
News 12 @ 11

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- With a Thursday night ruling the stress has disappeared for as many as 900 workers at Savannah River Site's MOX facility.

A federal judge siding with state officials like District 86 Representative Bill Taylor. He says closing the facility would be disastrous for South Carolina.

"SRS is not going to be a dumpsite for plutonium. Nine metric tons of waste is destined to go to MOX but where is it going? If they shut down MOX, where does it go? No one will answer that question," said Bill Taylor, SC House Representative/District 86.

MOX is still under construction and those workers won't lose their jobs. The new facility will turn weapons-grade plutonium into mixed oxide fuel for commercial nuclear reactors.

Representative Taylor says the government has already spent too much on the project for it to crumble now.

"The federal government has spent $5.2 billion to build the MOX facility. It's more than 70% complete by most numbers, even an independent audit has said that."

Taylor says the project has been stalled long enough and hundreds of workers should not lose their jobs over politics.

"They aren't even funding construction at the level that will ever get done. So, finish the project, use MOX and get the plutonium out of South Carolina."

So a federal judge stepped in tonight to keep the Department of Energy from pulling the plug on Monday and there are lawsuits too.

State Attorney General Alan Wilson filed a lawsuit against the Department of Energy last month arguing that stopping construction would mean losing that entire workforce and becoming a plutonium dumping site.

But the Department of Energy says they've identified another way to deal with the plutonium called the dilute and dispose method but leaders here say that won't work.



Thursday, June 7, 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A federal judge has blocked the proposed shutdown of a plant in South Carolina which would turn plutonium used in nuclear weapons into fuel for nuclear reactors.

U.S. District Court Judge Michelle Childs handed down the decision Thursday on the MOX Project at the Savannah River Site in Aiken County.

Instead of creating mixed oxide fuel, or MOX, the National Nuclear Security Administration suggested SRS make new plutonium pits for nuclear weapons. The state argued that ending the project would make South Carolina the nation's dumping ground for plutonium since Congress hasn't approved any other disposal method.

Also, a lawsuit filed by Wilson said Energy Secretary Rick Perry didn't consult Gov. Henry McMaster before ending construction at the Savannah River Site. A stop-work order was to take effect next Monday.



Saturday, May 26, 2018

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina is suing the federal government after the Energy Department announced it was stopping construction of a plant to turn plutonium used in nuclear weapons into fuel for nuclear reactors.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson's lawsuit filed Friday says Energy Secretary Rick Perry didn't consult Governor Henry McMaster before ending construction at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.

The lawsuit also says the Energy Department didn't perform an analysis of how to store the plutonium already at SRS.

Instead of creating mixed oxide fuel, or MOX, the National Nuclear Security Administration suggests SRS make new plutonium pits for nuclear weapons.

Wilson called the decision to end MOX another chapter in the long, tortured history of broken promises by the federal government.
The Energy Department didn't immediately respond.