South Carolina US Rep. Joe Wilson said he’s still working to prevent the shutdown of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication (MOX) facility in Aiken County, even as layoffs continue and a federal appeals court dealt the project’s supporters a huge setback this week.
The U.S. Department of Energy in October announced it was stopping construction on the MOX fabrication facility, which would have converts weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for nuclear reactors. A federal appeals court ruled the federal government could continue its shutdown of the site while the state of South Carolina sued on behalf of the site’s employees. That same appeals court ruled against the lawsuit on Monday.
While announcing his legislative priorities this week, Wilson said the door is not closed on the MOX facility, although he did not outline a specific idea to save it.
“To me, it’s not,” he told reporters in Columbia. “It’s 70 percent completed. The government has not provided a termination plan. I feel, really, kinship for the people who have received termination warning notices.”
Another round of layoffs related to the shutdown of the facility was to occur this month. More than 1,100 construction or project job losses have already been announced, with roughly 2,000 ultimately impacted as the shutdown becomes final.
“I’ve been working with Gov. (Henry) McMaster, with . . . Senator Lindsay Graham, with Senator Tim Scott and we are making every effort to work to let it be known that still the MOX proposal, Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, is the best alternative,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the facility is especially important now that “Nevada has now intervened to block any effort of relocation of weapons-grade plutonium. To me, every effort should be made and I will make it and continue to make it that South Carolina not become a dumping ground for weapons-grade plutonium.”
The facility sits in Wilson’s district. The Energy Department decided to shutter the project after it ran billions of dollars over-budget and a decade behind schedule. The project’s supporters claim the Energy Department undermined the project over the past decade and caused its costs to become unrealistic.