By Derrick Asberry
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., has re-emphasized his approval of the MOX project and questioned President Barack Obama administration's commitment to the facility.
He elaborated on the issue during Tuesday's hearing on the 2013 Nuclear Waste Administration Act in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by outlining the importance of the country keeping its agreement with Russia by disposing of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium.
"The lack of commitment by the Obama administration is also true of the MOX facility at SRS," Scott said. "This administration has abandoned its commitment to the people of South Carolina. Not only will it cost the taxpayers more money, but hundreds of South Carolinians could lose their jobs."
In addition to MOX, Scott feels the Obama administration, as well as the Department of Energy, are failing to comply with other existing laws and agreements, including Yucca Mountain. The senator cited last year's 326-81 House vote to dedicate $25 million to restart the review of the construction at Yucca Mountain. Even with the legislation in place, the senator feels that DOE is not adhering to it.
"My concern with this legislation is less about the content and more about why Congress is allowing DOE to break the law as we know it to be," Scott continued. "The law is very clear; our nation's spent nuclear fuel and defense waste should be disposed at Yucca."
In response to the senator's concerns, Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz reflected on the nation's commitment to Russia. Moniz feels that commitment is not the issue, but rather adequate funding.
"We are committed to disposing of the 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium," Moniz stated. "But the cost escalations of the project just called for a re-examination of where we stand."
The senator will follow up his meeting with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by working with the Department of Energy, and other interest groups. His hope is to see the MOX facility completed.
"Sen. Scott will work closely with DOE as well as his colleagues from South Carolina and Georgia and fight to ensure that MOX funding is maintained at levels that were previously prescribed," said Greg Blair, the senator's press secretary.
A clip of the senator's comments can be found on YouTube, under the title, Sen. Tim Scott Questions DOE Secretary Moniz about Spent Nuclear Fuel.