Gov. Nikki Haley said she made it clear to Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz that the 37 million gallons of waste at the Savannah River Site has to be taken care of. Haley spoke with the secretary in a face-to-face meeting in Washington, D.C. this week.
After the meeting, Haley spoke about her visit in a phone interview with the Aiken Standard. Haley said Moniz appears to be equally concerned with the SRS budget shortfall. Currently, environmental operations at the Site are financed by a $318 million continuing resolution; SRS requested $1.2 billion for the fiscal year.
“He made it very clear that in this next budget, he's working to push SRS waste cleanup and will do what it will take to get things back to their proper place at SRS,” Haley told the Standard. “He is very well engaged in the Site and realizes the value of it.”
Haley also shared the DOE secretary's views on the MOX facility. According to Haley, Moniz admitted that generating funding for the MOX facility is more difficult than other projects at the Site.
“We also spoke about the MOX facility, and that issue seems to be a little more difficult. He's concerned about the movement of it, but is working to find answers,” Haley said.
Other topics the two discussed included the potential use of small modular reactors – or SMRs.
The reactors have an electricity output of less than 300 megawatts and are touted by supporters as a way to allow for less on-site construction and a way to increase economic efficiency.
SRS has recently been vying for a grant to bring SMRs to South Carolina. Haley, several other legislators and SRS representatives have all vocalized their support of SMRs.
Haley said she made it clear to Moniz that the Site is interested in bringing SMRs on board.
“We spoke about SMRs, and he knows we are interested in receiving the grant for them. We understand the significance of bringing them to SRS and Secretary Moniz knows that we are very anxious to do just that.”
Haley said she communicated her appreciation of the reconsideration of Yucca Mountain as a waste repository, and that South Carolina expects to see a resolution.
In addition, Haley extended another invitation to Secretary Moniz to visit the Savannah River Site, which Moniz accepted. While a date has not yet been set, Haley is confident that he will visit the Site.
“We have had lengthy and good conversations, and I felt that face-to-face meeting was necessary,” Haley added. “I made it clear that our Site needs proper funding, and he seemed to be receptive of that. This was one of many conversations we plan to have.”
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.