Columbia, SC – Today, Sen. Vincent Sheheen sent this letter to President Obama and South Carolina’s federal delegation to urge them to stand up for workers in the Aiken area and fully fund the MOX facility in the federal budget.

Dear President Obama,

The 2015 budget proposed by your administration contains only $221 million for the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken. This amount is far below what is needed to continue construction and operations at the facility, instead placing the program into “cold standby.” This funding freeze would result in devastating economic impacts on the facility, the local community, as well as the United States long-term goals in disposing of weapons grade plutonium. I write to strongly urge you to fully fund this program and maintain support for the hardworking South Carolinians at the SRS and throughout Aiken.

The MOX project is a key economic driver in the Aiken region that employs thousands of South Carolinians. Economic studies have shown that every job at the Savannah River Site represents 2.5 jobs in Aiken County. If enacted, the funding freeze in the proposed FY 2015 budget would force layoffs and hurt hardworking families that have already weathered the economic storm brought about due to the arbitrary cuts required by sequestration and the ongoing dysfunction in Washington, DC.

South Carolina has accepted the nuclear materials at the SRS as part of an agreement with the federal government to reprocess those materials into useable nuclear fuel, not to hold it indefinitely. This latest budget proposal, however, raises serious concerns about how long this material would remain at the SRS and what would become of it.

Finally, pulling funding from the MOX Facility in Aiken, while leaving it as the only congressionally-authorized site for the disposition of weapons-grade plutonium, seems terribly short-sighted now as we watch the continuing instability in Crimea. The continued safe eradication of available weapons-grade plutonium must continue to be a priority for the United States as we work to limit nuclear proliferation and the availability of nuclear materials.

I urge you and the SC congressional delegation to work together to find a bipartisan solution to fully fund the MOX Fuel Fabrication project so that construction operations can continue, hardworking South Carolinians can keep their jobs, and we can continue to safely eradicate available weapons-grade plutonium.


Sen. Vincent Sheheen

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