The U.S. mixed-oxide fuel (MOX) fabrication facility achieves key strategic milestones for America’s nonproliferation and economic goals. Unfortunately, the nation’s pending budget pressures place these accomplishments at risk with proposed insubstantial funding and workforce layoffs.
As a leading economic hub in South Carolina, the construction phase of the MOX Project employs more than 2,200 highly skilled workers earning very competitive pay. Upon completion, the MOX project will ultimately deliver on America’s nonproliferation commitment to reduce and convert no less than 68 metric tons of former U.S and Russian nuclear weapons material into a usable nuclear energy fuel, creating up to $50B worth of clean energy.
Yesterday’s article in the Aiken Standard, Mox to face major cuts, lays out the dangers of a short-horizon budget reaction,
“With severe cuts or sequestration on the way, much speculation surrounds the future of the MOX project and its funding from the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA). Reports out of Washington, D.C., have cuts to the project of greater than 50 percent … However, if funding for the construction is slashed, it could be extremely expensive to restart.”
The likely regional and national harm of this budgetary axe prompted six South Carolina congressmen to send a letter to President Obama emphasizing the project’s bipartisan support for continued funding,
“Due to the impending sequester, the MOX project is on target to experience a budget cut, which threatens the future for the facility. To make matters worse, it has been brought to my attention that the Administration is considering not prioritizing this project in its FY2014 budget, which is a direct contradiction of its previous policy … Members from both sides of the aisle have joined my efforts, proving that this issue is not partisan politics, but one of grave national security concern.”
In his State of the Union speech, President Obama promised additional nonproliferation activities resulting in more nuclear material from dismantled weapons,
“We will engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals, and continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands – because our ability to influence others depends on our willingness to lead.”
To ensure safe, permanent reduction and disposal of this increasing quantity of weapons material, the MOX Project must become operational.
In this same line of thinking, Congressman Joe Wilson posted a letter earlier this month stating the significant value and benefits of the MOX Project at the Savannah River Site (SRS),
“As a member of Congress who has work experience at SRS, I appreciate the national importance of this facility. The facility will turn bombs meant to end life into electricity. It will force Russia to honor its obligation and will take a sizeable amount of weapons-grade plutonium out of a very dangerous part of the world. Above the economic impact on our state, the MOX facility is a national asset to our country, and it must be completed.”
The MOX Project delivers regional and national value beyond a line item tally in a budget, and should continue receiving funding to achieve its far-reaching purpose and impact.