South Carolina’s Attorney General is seeking a quick resolution in the state’s lawsuit against the Department of Energy over the Savannah River Site’s MOX program.
Reports surfaced on Wednesday that S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson has requested a quick resolution and is also requesting that the case not go to trial.
Mark Powell, communications director for Wilson, confirmed the information in an email to the Aiken Standard.
“South Carolina is seeking a quick resolution to a straightforward, simple legal question – is a federal agency allowed to exceed its authority by disregarding a Congressional mandate and directive and sidestepping federal appropriations law?” Powell wrote.
The request is another step in the legal process that began with South Carolina suing DOE on March 18. The state is seeking to keep the MOX project alive despite government officials looking to stop its work.
Fiscal year 2015 budget requests from both President Barack Obama and the National Nuclear Security Administration recommends the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility be placed in a cold stand-by.
This would be a move that would freeze construction of the project while officials look for cheaper ways to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium.
The state’s position is that money granted for construction should only be used for construction, and should not to be used to put the MOX project in a cold stand-by.
“We strongly believe these actions go beyond the parameters permitted under the Constitution,” Powell added. “A swift answer to their legality will determine whether the Department of Energy must follow the same laws that govern South Carolinians and all Americans.”
The Aiken Standard contacted NNSA on the issue, but NNSA did not wish to comment.
The MOX project is part of a nonproliferation agreement with Russia to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium.
The project has undergone cost overruns and delays over the years with recent disputes over the true life cycle cost of the project.
DOE has yet to release a study that prices the project at $30 billion. AREVA – a partner of the Site’s contractor – disputed that estimate and said the life cycle cost of the plutonium disposition program is closer to $17 billion.
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.