Wes Hickman (202 224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864 250-1417)
U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) were joined in Washington, DC today by a delegation of lawmakers from both states to meet with Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. The delegation demonstrated the support of both states for constructing a Modern Pit Facility at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, SC.
In addition to Graham and Chambliss, the group consisted of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-South Carolina), U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Georgia), South Carolina Speaker of the House David Wilkins, S.C. State Senator Hugh Leatherman, S.C. State Senator Tommy Moore and S.C. State Senator Greg Ryberg. Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue has also been a strong advocate on behalf of the project.
“This is one of the most productive meetings I have attended since I have been in Congress,” said Graham. “South Carolina and Georgia presented a united front to secure the modern pit facility, stressing the ability of SRS to go to work immediately on the project if necessary. Governor Sanford’s presence, along with Governor Perdue’s (GA) support sends a clear message that the leadership in both states is behind the MPF. Senator Chambliss and I will do everything possible to push the selection of Savannah River Site, and there is bipartisan support coming from Senators Fritz Hollings and Zell Miller. Our message was simple and clear, the Savannah River Site is the most secure, competent, and cost effective location for building a Modern Pit Facility in support of our future defense needs.”
“Senator Chambliss has been great to work with,” said Graham. “He has been an able teammate in establishing a bright future for the Savannah River Site and its employees.”
“We impressed on Secretary Abraham that no other site under consideration has any experience with raw plutonium,” said Chambliss. “The Savannah River Site has a well trained work force, infrastructure, and the space to do the job and provide proper security. SRS has processed this type of material in a safe and secure manner for decades. Placing this facility at the Savannah River Site is good for national security, as well as for Georgia and South Carolina. I am pleased to work as team with my colleagues from Georgia and South Carolina to make this happen for the Augusta community. ”
"Our meeting this afternoon with Secretary Abraham was extremely positive. Our message was crystal clear - MPF belongs at the Savannah River Site," said Barrett. "It just makes sense to have the Modern Pitt Facility at SRS; we have full community support, the best safety record around and on-site expertise that is unmatched anywhere else in the nation. I look forward to working with the other members of the South Carolina and Georgia delegations in the coming weeks and months to ensure our message continues to be heard loud and clear."
“In the interest of national security and saving our hard-working taxpayers money, the Savannah River Site is the absolute best location for a Modern Pit Facility," said Norwood. “It was clear from today's meeting with Secretary Abraham - having a unified and strong voice from Georgia and South Carolina to carry that message only helps our effort to make that a reality.”
Georgia Gov. Perdue has conveyed his strong support for the project to Secretary Abraham with a follow-up call slated in the coming days. “The Savannah River Site is a great location for the MPF. It has a full array of supporting infrastructure and systems already in place as well as an unparalleled safety record," Perdue said. "SRS has a keen interest in protecting the public and the environment. That is why the surrounding communities including Georgia's second largest metropolitan area are excited about the possibility of gaining this facility.”
If a facility is constructed and SRS is selected, the Site would manufacture PITs, the hollow spheres of metallic plutonium that trigger hydrogen fusion in atomic bombs. The United States has lacked a PIT production facility since 1989, when it shut down the Rocky Flats plant in Colorado. SRS is one of five candidates for the facility, an estimated $4 billion economic development project that would employ roughly 800 workers during construction and roughly 1,500 workers once the facility becomes operational.