Feb 03 2003

President Bush’s Budget Fully Funds Plutonium Mission at SRS

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said President Bush’s budget submitted to Congress today is another sign the Administration intends to aggressively push forward with the mixed oxide fuel (MOX) mission at Savannah River Site. President Bush requested Congress devote $402 million in the coming year for construction of the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility at SRS. Under MOX, surplus weapons-grade plutonium from the U.S. nuclear arsenal will be converted into fuel to power a commercial nuclear reactor to produce electricity. “President Bush’s budget shows his commitment to moving forward on the MOX mission at SRS,” said Graham. “It’s a very important mission, not only for the country, but for the world.” Graham, along with the man he succeeded in the U.S. Senate, Strom Thurmond, authored legislation signed into law by President Bush that prevents the state from becoming the permanent storage site for plutonium. The federal government faces millions of dollars in fines and a legal obligation to remove plutonium from South Carolina if the MOX mission doesn’t go forward in a timely manner. Graham also noted the president’s budget contained good news on cleanup efforts at the Site. Among the notable items in President Bush’s request to Congress: A $124 million increase for DOE spending in South Carolina bringing the total to $1.8 billion; An additional $109 million for accelerated cleanup at SRS. DOE will now spend $1.35 billion on cleanup at the Site. “I’m pleased the President has kept his word and continues to put forward budgets and policies that help us clean up the Cold War legacy materials on the site while moving forward with important programs, like MOX, that will help make the world a safer place,” said Graham. “We’ve still got a long way to go in the budget process, but I think the President is getting us off to a good start.”