South Carolinas senators joined five others in a letter to the Department of Energy asking that construction of the Savannah River Sites MOX facility continue.

U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., and Tim Scott, RS.C., joined senators from Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina in submitting the letter to DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz.

The senators cited fiscal year 2014 appropriations for the MOX program, stating the funds were for construction, and not for putting the program on cold stand-by.

The $211 million request is significantly lower than what is needed to maintain on-going operations and construction for MOX, will force major layoffs, and threaten the viability of the only congressional authorized disposition path for weapons grade plutonium, the senators wrote in the letter. It is our understanding the Department of Energy is planning to use fiscal year 2014 funds to begin this process. This would be inappropriate and we discourage this in the strongest possible terms.

Other senators included in the letter are U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss, RGa., Johnny Isakson, RGa., Mary Landrieu, DLa., Richard Burr, RN.C., and Kay Hagan, DN.C.

The Aiken Standard will continue reporting on the issue as more information becomes available.

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.