A House subcommittee agreed Tuesday to maintain the current funding level in next year’s federal budget for the construction of a MOX-fabrication facility at the Savannah River Site.
The $340 million funding is “to help fulfill the international agreement,” notes a summary released by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water.
Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., hailed the funding as a victory for the future of the facility that the administration wants to scrap.
“The fact remains that support for MOX is bipartisan and is the only way to uphold the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA), our nuclear non-proliferation agreement with the Russian Federation. It is the best course to convert weapons-grade plutonium into green fuel,” Wilson said in a statement his office released.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters in his country last week that he views ending the MOX project as a violation of the agreement.
MOX is a way of reprocessing weapons-grade plutonium into fuel that can be burned to generate electricity. Putin said that the administration’s plan to dilute the plutonium and then store it underground would not prevent it from being recovered and used one day in the making of nuclear bombs.
Wilson vowed to continue pushing for funding for the construction of the MOX facility, which many observers say is behind schedule and over budget.
Anti-nuclear advocate Tom Clements, executive director of SRS Watch, calls the subcommittee’s funding level a defeat for MOX.
He says it’s less than half of the amount experts say is needed to finish the facility and instead represents a holding pattern the administration wants as part of its eventual shutdown of the project.
“Though the House Appropriations Committee appears to be rejecting the administration’s request for termination of the MOX project in 2017, MOX is doomed in the long run, and the approved funding level will only keep the project on life-support,” he said.
A Senate subcommittee votes on the MOX funding today.