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Tuesday, May 6, 2014
The state of South Carolina announced on May 2 that it is dismissing its lawsuit filed against the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration in support of the Savannah River Site’s MOX program.
In an official statement, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson wrote that he is disappointed the issue went to court, but hopeful about the future of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility.
“Although I am disappointed that, once again, the state was forced to seek redress from the courts to protect the citizens of South Carolina from a federal government ignoring the rule of law, we are pleased with the outcome in this case,” Wilson said.
The dismissal follows an announcement made on April 29 by the DOE and NNSA that construction will continue on the MOX facility through the end of the fiscal year.
Wilson added that he considers that decision by DOE and NNSA a “victory.”
“While this is undoubtedly a victory for South Carolina, its citizens and all Americans, the battle is not over. We must remain ever vigilant in continuing the fight to uphold the rule of law and ensure that this important program continues,” he said.
The state filed suit against DOE on April 18, just two weeks after the federal budget proposal was released containing plans to place the MOX project in a cold stand-by. Both Wilson and Gov. Nikki Haley have said a cold stand-by would break agreements the federal government has with the state of South Carolina.
“It’s a facility that (Washington) D.C. started, and with plutonium sitting there ... and now you’re going to stop MOX?” Haley questioned at the time. “They’re hurting the people of South Carolina, and we’re not going to sit back and take it.”
Currently, MOX advocates are working to secure the program for fiscal year 2015, although NNSA has already reported it is working with the MOX contractor to begin the cold stand-by at the beginning of the new year.
The MOX program is part of an agreement with Russia to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium. The federal government is concerned that the program could cost $31 billion, according to a recent DOE study.
AREVA – a partner of the contractor – said the true cost is closer to $17 billion, a cost that they said is on par with estimates from the Government Accountability Office.
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.