It is unclear whether the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control will impose fines for a missed waste deadline at the Savannah River Site after the agency promised it would hold off until Dec. 18.

The agency, or SCDHEC, has been in talks with the U.S. Department of Energy following the missed startup deadline of the Salt Waste Processing Facility.

Once operable, the facility will increase efforts to treat the liquid waste stored in more than 40 SRS waste tanks.

Under a permit signed by both parties, the waste facility was supposed to be operating by Oct. 31. Another milestone associated with continued construction of the facility was missed on Sept. 30, 2011.

Fines of $105,000 a day could have started in 2011. Today, the total amount SCDHEC could attempt to levy is close to $154 million.

When contacted by the Aiken Standard, SCDHEC would not state whether the agency would pursue fines at this time.

SCDHEC Spokesman Jim Beasley said the agency is still talking with the Department of Energy and is shooting for an early to mid-January date to wrap up discussions.

“At this time, we continue to discuss the matter with them,” Beasley said.

The two agencies will continue taking time to renegotiate deadlines, schedules and funding commitments for startup of the Salt Waste Processing Facility.

Construction of the facility is currently 89 percent complete and is on track to be finished by May 2016 and operating by December 2018; however, the facility has been plagued by cost overruns and delays, including a cost projection that states it is nearly $1 billion over budget.

The facility was initially expected to cost $1.4 billion; however, it is now expected to cost about $2.3 billion.

The Energy Department directed questions sent Monday to SCDHEC, but said last month it “greatly appreciates SCDHEC’s willingness to allow the discussions an opportunity to resolve the issue.”

Derrek Asberry is the SRS beat reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the paper since June 2013.