SC sues federal government over MOX project

SC sues federal government over MOX project

The state of South Carolina is suing the U.S. Department of Energy over the federal government's plans to shut down the mixed-oxide (MOX) project at the Savannah River Site.

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson and members of the Aiken delegation announced the lawsuit during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

The lawsuit also names Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and the National Nuclear Security Administration as defendants.

The MOX project involves the construction of a plant that would turn weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors. Construction began on the project in 2007 and is reported to be $3 billion over budget and more than three years behind its 2016 completion deadline.

President Barack Obama's latest budget proposal calls for freezing the project's funds entirely.

But Wilson said the federal government's plans to halt the project are unconstitutional and will cost the state 1,800 jobs. The lawsuit alleges that not moving forward with this project violates federal laws meant to protect South Carolina.

"The President is also breaking a promise to the state and people of South Carolina, who entered into a contractual commitment to host the MOX facility which stated the nuclear material would be processed into usable fuel for commercial power reactors – not sit in South Carolina indefinitely," said U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.

"The federal government could also be obligated to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines to the state if this project is not completed, and simultaneously give Russia an excuse to break a critical nuclear arms control agreement."

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