President Obama’s new budget, released today, once again calls for putting the monstrously over-budget, completely unnecessary and stupidly-risky MOX plutonium fuel plant at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina in “cold standby,” which essentially means ending funding for the project–whose cost is now estimated at more than $30 Billion. Which of course means that Rep. Joe (you lie!) Wilson (R-SC), grasping at straws, warns that ending the project would harm US-Russian relations. Not that Rep. Wilson has ever shown much interest in improving US-Russian relations, nor that Putin hasn’t done far more damage to them already this week….
The Union of Concerned Scientists takes a very different view of Obama’s position. In a press release today, UCS said, “The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) commended the Department of Energy (DOE) for planning to put the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina on ‘cold standby’ while it determines an alternative way to dispose of surplus plutonium from nuclear weapons programs.” Added Dr. Ed Lyman, a senior scientist with UCS, “Converting this plutonium to a form that would be harder to steal or reuse in nuclear weapons is an essential long-term goal. But the MOX strategy would have greatly increased near-term risks by making it easier for terrorists to steal plutonium during processing, transport or storage at reactors.”
We add that use of MOX fuel in commercial reactors would both increase the risk of meltdown and greatly increase the effects of a nuclear meltdown. Obama’s decision is a good one. However, it is also one the Administration tried to make last year, but Congress, in this case led by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who loves pork-barrel projects that send money to his state, kept the program alive. Hopefully, that will change this year and Obama’s recommendation will be adopted. But that may take citizen action–we’ll keep you informed.
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