Three Republican congressmen have asked South Carolina’s governor to explore possible legal action over the shuttering of Savannah River Site’s mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility.
In a letter dated Friday, U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, along with Rep. Joe Wilson, asked Gov. Nikki Haley to consult with Attorney General Alan Wilson. Placing the multi-billion dollar facility on standby would violate an international nonproliferation agreement between Russia and the U.S., the legislators said.
“It is our understanding that the Department of Energy is already preparing to stop work currently happening at SRS. We ask that you work with the South Carolina Attorney General to explore any legal avenues the state may have to address this injustice,” the letter says.
The MOX plant is intended to convert 34 metric tons of American weapons-grade plutonium to commercial nuclear fuel to help fulfill a Russian agreement.
Last week, the National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages the MOX project, began the process to shut down construction after the White House proposed in its fiscal 2015 budget placing the facility on standby while assessing more cost-effective methods.
About $3.9 billion has been spent so far on the MOX facility, which is about 60 percent complete. Construction estimates were revised last year to about $7.7 billion, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
In an e-mail, Haley spokesman Doug Mayer said the governor and Attorney General’s office are “exploring any and all legal options” regarding MOX.
“The governor has been actively engaged with this situation from the start and is committed to finding a solution – whether inside of a courtroom or not,” Mayer said.
Attorney General spokesman Mark Powell said the office is “examining all avenues for legal action should the need for action arise.”