Strong words are flowing from the halls of power, as South Carolina's top politicians react to sequestration cuts to Savannah River Site jobs.
With thousands of workers facing furloughs or layoffs beginning April 1, more than $100 million taken from the Department of Energy site's contractors, and programs being mothballed, there has been anger from the elected.
Congressman Joe Wilson, R-S.C., testified Tuesday morning before the House Budget Committee, claiming SRS cuts are a “direct threat to our national security.”
He was requesting that appropriate funding levels be retained in the fiscal year 2014 budget for the Savannah River Site and Fort Jackson in Columbia. Wilson stated that both facilities are vital to national security.
“Sequestration has ravaged funding across the board at SRS,” Wilson said.
Wilson talked about the MOX Project, Environmental Management and the Savannah River National Lab, among other areas.
Gov. Nikki Haley joined in Wilson's indignation as she attacked Washington for “abdicating” its responsibility.
“Washington should absolutely cut spending — and they should do it by more than $85 billion — but this is precisely why across-the-board cuts make zero sense,” said Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey. “Instead of cutting necessary funds — like those for the processing and storage of our nuclear waste — Washington should make smart, targeted cuts to programs that we don't want and don't need. But the leadership in Washington has abdicated its responsibility, and this is what we're left with. It's a shame.”
Wilson gave detailed testimony about those programs touted to be hurt most.
“The Environmental Management side of the Site alone will lose over $100 million in funds ... From H-Canyon to the Tank Farms, environmental cleanup funds have been slashed,” Wilson said.
According to documents obtained by the Aiken Standard Tuesday, Environmental Management and the research arm of SRS, the SRNL will bear the brunt of the cuts, while facilities involved in maintaining nuclear weapons will not.
“A significant decrease in funding to SRNL poses a direct threat to our national security as the Laboratory is tasked with training all FBI forensic agents, is key in developing new military technologies implemented in the war on terror, and directly supports the environmental cleanup mission of legacy defense waste across the country,” he said.