Sen. Lindsey Graham: MOX cancellation a ‘colossal mistake’
South Carolina’s senior senator on Thursday described the termination of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility as a “colossal mistake,” one that is “shortsighted” and equates to the federal government “breaking its commitment” to the state.
“Stopping a program that is 70 percent complete and replacing it with a new half-baked program that won’t work is yet another example of what is wrong with Washington,” U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, said in a terse afternoon statement.
Graham’s remarks arrive the same day the first batch of MOX workers — the project in total employs about 1,700 people — received layoff notices.
On Oct. 10, the National Nuclear Security Administration terminated the MOX contract in full, sending the project into a tailspin. The October termination followed a tangled legal battle between the state and the U.S. Department of Energy.
The NNSA is a semiautonomous DOE agency in charge of the nation’s nuclear outfit. The NNSA oversees MOX, an over-budget, incomplete and now-killed venture designed to transform weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for nuclear reactors.
Graham, during an Aiken County press conference, described the MOX process as “taking a sword and turning it into a plowshare.”
On May 10, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry submitted a MOX waiver to congressional defense committees, flagging his intent to defund and derail the project.
Perry, in his waiver, proposed dilute-and-dispose as the rightful MOX alternative. Dilute-and-dispose, another disposition pathway, involves mixing plutonium with inert material for burial at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.
Graham — S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster, also — has long said the dilute-and-dispose plan is flimsy, if not completely baseless. On Thursday, the senator re-upped that exact argument.
“There is no viable alternative,” Graham said.
“From the beginning we have warned the Department of Energy’s dilute-and-dispose plan in New Mexico is not feasible and simply will not work,” he later added. “It’s yet another half-baked idea from DOE that simply has no chance of success.”
Perry and Gordon-Hagerty were both selected by President Donald Trump.