A South Carolina congressman wants the Obama administration to take a closer look at its budget-cutting plan to scale back work on the mixed oxide fuel plant being built at Savannah River Site, suggesting that cost- saving efficiencies could be found in the program.
In an amendment to the House Armed Services Subcommittee’s version of the fiscal 2014 defense budget, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson said the administration’s request – which would cut $132.7 million, or 29.3 percent, from the project’s 2014 construction budget – might not reduce taxpayer costs and could delay the plutonium disposition project.
The facility, which is about 60 percent complete, is being built to dispose of surplus plutonium by blending it into commercial nuclear fuel. However, the plant has become increasingly expensive and behind schedule. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy proposed slowing the project and studying alternatives because completing the MOX plant “may be unaffordable.”
Wilson’s goal is to keep the MOX program alive, spokeswoman Caroline Delleney said.
“The study he requests would look at bringing in additional surplus plutonium, which would be a vital step to ensuring our national security while simultaneously increasing missions for the dedicated workforce at SRS,” she said.
The amendment specifies an April 1 completion date for the study.
A House vote on the bill is scheduled next week, after which the Senate will mark up its own version of the National Defense Authorization Act.