September 23, 2014

Graham: MOX layoffs delayed, project’s future still in doubt

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (File)

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (File)

The U.S. Department of Energy has promised to continue construction of the Savannah River Site’s MOX facility through the end of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30. That’s according to a press release sent from the office of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.

In the release, Graham said he spoke with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on Monday evening. He said Moniz promised to continue the construction of the facility and that no layoffs would be immediately forthcoming.

Roughly 1,000 layoffs at the experimental nuclear fuel project near Aiken had already been delayed by a few weeks. Congressman Joe Wilson, who represents the area, said South Carolina’s congressional delegation has been trying to keep the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility open.

“There are currently around 1,800 people who work at the MOX facility,” Wilson told South Carolina Radio Network on Monday. “I hope the administration is reconsidering their position.”

Graham says that the long-term future of the facility is still very much in jeopardy. “In the short-term, this decision will save thousands of jobs. However, there is still a long, arduous fight ahead,” Graham wrote in the press release. “The Secretary’s announcement does not change the fact the President’s FY15 budget submission to Congress places the MOX program in cold standby.”

Graham’s office also reported that the Energy Department should be releasing the results of a study of plutonium disposition alternatives Tuesday.

Wilson encouraged the project’s employees to write the Energy Department and explain why the project is important. He said a similar effort worked when cuts were proposed at the Savannah River Site last year.

“Where citizens communicate in a positive, non-threatening manner, we found out that the federal government can change its position,” he told South Carolina Radio Network.

The project’s contractor Shaw AREVA MOX Services would not comment.