President urged to continue funding for MOX
The following is a copy of a Feb. 5 letter sent to President Barack Obama from Congressmen Joe Wilson, James E. Clyburn, Jeff Duncan, Trey Gowdy, Mick Mulvaney and Tom Rice. The Savannah River Site encompasses approximately 33% of the land mass of Barnwell County.
Dear President Obama,
Over a decade ago, Congress made the decision to construct a Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) to dispose of excess weapons-grade fissile material by converting it into fuel for commercial nuclear power plants. Construction on the MOX Project, as it is commonly referenced, began in 2006 and is over halfway completed at the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site, just outisde of Aiken, South Carolina.
This project, which is the first of its kind in the United States, will allow our country to honor its September 2000 agreement with Russia to dispose of 34 metric tons of excess U.S. weapons-grade plutonium. This agreement requres Russia to likewise dispose of 34 metric tons of its own weapons-grade plutonium.
Recently, it has come to our attention that concerns have been raised regarding the MOX Project and its future under potential sequestration and budget cuts. We are writing you today to reiterate the importance of the MOX Project and its mission.
The United States Congress, along with Presidents of both political parties, have supported this project. We must stay the course on the MOX Project and create a pathway to safely and responsibly dispose of this excess weapons-grade plutonium. It is our opinion that a failure to complete the MOX facility will lead to a world with more weapons-grade plutonium than necessary - creating additonal and unnecessary risk that such material will be stolen or diverted to malicious purposes.
While we are certain your Administration is closely examining the MOX Project for fiscal year 2014 funding, we only ask that you keep in mind the serious and important mission the MFFF will carry out. It is our responsibility to honor our part of the agreement to ensure Russia upholds their end.
As you continue to evaluate this project, we want to leave you with a thought from President Kennedy. In his private notebook he wrote, "Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up." Please take a hard look at why our country chose to construct the MOX Facility. We believe you will clearly see what a vital asset this project is to our nation.
James E. Clyburn
Members of Congress
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