President, energy secretary, S.C. governor talked MOX at May meeting

June 9, 2018

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster says he spoke directly with President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry about the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility during a recent White House visit.

McMaster was at the White House at the end of May for a private dinner event. He was photographed at the same table as Trump and Perry that night, and McMaster later tweeted out a photo of himself and the president standing together.

When asked Thursday if he addressed MOX during his visit, McMaster said, “Yes, I did at that time.”

“I’ve spoken to the president about it, I’ve spoken to Secretary Perry about it, I’ve spoken to the deputy secretary, (Dan) Brouillette, I’ve been to Washington, I’ve conferred with our senators, our congressmen, and we’re fighting,” McMaster said.

According to the governor, the conversation consisted of Perry discussing “what has happened since then” and Trump and his staff observing.

“The president listened and so did his staff,” McMaster said, “but it’s Rick Perry that’s making the announcement.”

Inquiries made to the U.S. Department of Energy were not immediately returned.

MOX, an approximately 70 percent complete facility at the Savannah River Site, is designed to turn weapons-grade plutonium into commercial reactor fuel. The facility has been under construction for more than a decade now.

On May 10, Perry executed a waiver to terminate MOX. Perry’s waiver certified the DOE had a better plutonium disposition option, dilute-and-dispose, and could remove plutonium from South Carolina in a timely manner.

McMaster – along with a majority of the state’s congressional delegation – has repeatedly questioned the merits of dilute-and-dispose, a method that involves mixing plutonium with inert material for storage at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

On Thursday, McMaster said dilute-and-dispose simply “will not be successful.”

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson, who was in Aiken on Wednesday, sued to prevent the shuttering of MOX two weeks ago. On Thursday night, a federal judge approved Wilson’s request, ultimately enjoining Perry’s waiver and negating a partial stop work order issued May 14.

During a May 8 interview with the Aiken Standard, McMaster said he wanted to go straight to the top and personally speak with Trump about the in-flux facility.

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