SC files $100M lawsuit against U.S. over failed plutonium removal

COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) – The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office says they filed a lawsuit Monday to recover $100 million the U.S. Department of Energy owes the state for failing to meet its promise to remove one ton of plutonium from the Savannah River Site this year.

A case of such magnitude has never been filed by South Carolina against the federal government, according to the press release from the attorney generals office.

Congress mandated that the U.S. Department of Energy would pay South Carolina $1 million per day, beginning January 1, 2016, for every day the department failed to remove one metric ton of weapons-grade defense plutonium. The requirement is in place during the first 100 days of each year from 2016 through 2021.

The Department of Energy has failed to process or remove the plutonium or pay the state the $100 million owed for 2016 or 2017. The lawsuit filed this week aims to recover the $100 million owed for 2017.

The Savannah River Site was built in the 1950’s to refine nuclear materials to be used in nuclear weapons. According to a fact sheet on the Savannah River Site’s website, its a key industrial complex owned by the US Department of Energy “responsible for the disposition of nuclear materials, waste management, environmental cleanup and environmental stewardship.”

The site itself is 310 miles of land located on land in Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell counties next to the Savannah River, about 25 miles southeast of Augusta Georgia.

The state sought the 2016 payments in the pending case before the federal court in South Carolina, but a federal judge ruled that the state should file the claim in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The State intends to pursue the 2016 money when that matter concludes.

The federal government cannot “renege on its obligations” and “leave South Carolina as the permanent dumping ground for weapons-grade plutonium,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said in the complaint.

Information above is from a submitted press release.