Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is accepting Gov. Nikki Haley’s invitation and will be taking a tour of the MOX facility and other ongoing projects at the Savannah River Site.
According to press release sent out on Thursday, Moniz will be touring SRS Monday morning along with Gov. Haley, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Frank Klotz, the undersecretary for Nuclear Security and National Nuclear Security Administration administrator.
At the Site, Moniz will meet with workers, local elected officials, and stakeholders to engage in discussions on the site’s leadership in national security, environmental stewardship, and the development of cutting edge environmental remediation technologies.
In addition to the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, Moniz will also tour H-Canyon – the only hardened nuclear chemical separations plant still in operation in the U.S. – and the H-Tank Farm where workers are treating liquid waste and tanks.
He will also visit the Savannah River National Lab’s Applied Research Center, where the system to remediate the highly-enriched uranium is being developed.
Moniz’s tour comes more than four months after Haley and the state of South Carolina filed a March 18 lawsuit against Moniz, the Energy Department and the NNSA.
The lawsuit was filed following the March 4 release of President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2014 budget request, which looks to place the facility in a cold stand-by.
On April 29, Sen. Graham released a statement that Moniz promised to keep MOX open through the end of the fiscal year. The news prompted the state to drop its lawsuit a few days later on May 2.
Haley has extended the offer for Moniz to tour the Site several times. Her spokesperson, Doug Mayer, said Haley looks forward to welcoming Moniz to South Carolina so they can resume the conversations they have had concerning the federal government’s “failure to remove nuclear waste from our state.”
“As the governor did in 2010 when she personally asked President Obama to live up to this promise, she will continue pressing this administration to do the right thing for South Carolina.”
The MOX project is part of a nonproliferation agreement with Russia to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium.
The federal government is looking to place the project in a cold stand-by due to cost overruns and delays including a DOE report that priced the project at $30 billion. MOX advocates have said the total cost is closer to $17 billion and believe it is the only viable option to dispose of the plutonium.
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June 2013. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @ DerrekAsberry.