The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office filed a first of its kind $100 million lawsuit Monday against the Department of Energy (DOE) for failing to remove one ton of weapons-grade material from the state.
Officials at the DOE cannot “renege on its obligations” and “leave South Carolina as the permanent dumping ground for weapons-grade plutonium,” Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson said in the complaint. South Carolina has never filed a case this large against the federal government.
Lawmakers mandated that the DOE pay South Carolina $1 million per day for every day the agency failed to remove one metric ton of weapons-grade defense plutonium from Savannah River Site.
The requirement was put in place for the first 100 days of each year from 2016 through 2021, according to a press statement announcing the lawsuit.
The DOE’s mixed-oxide project (MOX) near Savannah was intended to turn weapons-grade plutonium into commercial nuclear reactor fuel. The agreement would eliminate enough weapons-grade plutonium to create 17,000 nuclear weapons.
The agency is legally required to pay up $100 million in annual fines to the state until the plutonium is removed. Former Gov. Nikki Haley warned the Obama administration last December that the state would sue the agency if it didn’t start making payments by Jan. 1.
But the DOE did not heed Haley’s threat. It failed to process or remove the plutonium, or pay the state the $100 million owed for 2016 and 2017. South Carolina’s lawsuit is intended to recover the $100 million owed for 2017.
South Carolina sought missing payments for 2016 in a pending case, but a federal court ruled last year that the state should file the claim in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. State officials intend on pursuing the 2016 money after that matter concludes.
The DOE did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment in time for publication.
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