U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson on Wednesday testified before the House Budget Committee to provide resources for Savannah River Site, particularly funding for the continued construction of its mixed-oxide fuel facility.
The South Carolina congressman, who toured the facility last month with three other lawmakers, urged for the continued funding of MOX since it’s perhaps the most “viable method at this time of disposing of weapons-grade plutonium and (the) country’s only means to honor the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement” with the Russian Federation.
The MOX facility currently has funding – about $340 million – to continue through year’s end, but U.S. House members were told by contractors that halting the project in 2017 could cost as much as $500 million and prevent it from ever being completed.
The project broke ground in 2007 and has been plagued with delays and cost overruns. It has been criticized by some who say it exemplifies government mismanagement and wasteful spending.
In his testimony to the committee, Wilson also argued on behalf of support of SRS’ other cleanup missions, which include activities at the H-Canyon, Defense Waste Processing Facility and the soon-to-be-completed Salt Waste Processing Facility, and recognized efforts at the Savannah River National Laboratory.
“SRS is critical to our national security and environmental clean-up missions,” he said. “We must ensure that it receives sufficient funding to carry out its mission.”