Representative Joe Wilson

Representing the 2nd District of South Carolina

South Carolina Congressional Delegation Statement on DOE Decision to Abandon MOX Program

May 10, 2018
Press Release

South Carolina Congressional Delegation Statement on DOE Decision to Abandon MOX Program

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), and U.S. Representatives Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) and Jeff Duncan (R-South Carolina) today issued a statement denouncing the Department of Energy’s (DOE) decision to abandon the MOX program.

 

“We are extremely disappointed to hear the Department of Energy plans to abandon the MOX program.  The federal government has spent billions of dollars constructing the MOX facility at Savannah River Site (SRS) to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus weapons-grade plutonium.  The facility is now more than halfway complete.     

“For years, DOE studied the best method to dispose of plutonium.  After looking at over 40 options, the MOX process was chosen over other alternatives and was the method agreed to with the Russians in the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement.  With DOE’s decision today, the MOX program – which is one of the most important non-proliferation programs in the history of the world – is being abandoned without any clear path forward.

“DOE says it now wants to pursue ‘dilute and dispose’ but that plan was already considered and rejected.  DOE plans to press ahead even though ‘dilute and dispose’ has not been fully vetted.  This could lead to the permanent orphaning of at least 34 metric tons of weapons grade plutonium, enough for thousands of warheads.

“And if that was not enough, DOE has done almost nothing to consult with New Mexico – the state which would receive this material – and the political leadership in New Mexico has already expressed great concern about this change in course.  Finally, the legal challenges to move from MOX in South Carolina to ‘dilute and dispose’ in New Mexico will be enormous.  By any fair assessment the viability and chance of success with dilute and dispose are, at best, questionable. 

“The Department of Energy’s reputation for the handling and oversight of large-scale projects like MOX were considered suspect.  But given what can only be called a debacle, DOE is going to be challenged like never before.  We plan to hold DOE accountable for this haphazard decision and will press for oversight to ensure taxpayers aren’t left holding the bag for DOE’s mistakes. 

“Finally, DOE has proposed reconfiguring the current MOX facility so that it can be used to produce plutonium pits.  While we support the opportunity for any new mission at SRS, we are concerned DOE will encounter a skeptical Congress and American public on any proposal they put forward.

“We will continue to work closely with Governor Henry McMaster to protect the interests of the local community, the state of South Carolina, and the American taxpayer.”

 

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