SC settles lawsuit over plutonium waste for record $600M

“According to a release, under the terms of the settlement, the Dept. of Energy remains obligated to remove the plutonium by 2037.”

BY: Alexx Altman-Devilbiss |

SC settles lawsuit over plutonium waste for record $600M
FILE – In this Sept. 29, 1994 file photo, a CSX Train with spent nuclear fuel passes through Florence, S.C., on its way to Savannah River Site Weapons Complex near Aiken S.C. Nevada and South Carolina are jostling for a home-field advantage of sorts in a federal court battle that could result in a metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium being stored 70 miles from Las Vegas. (Jeff Chatlosh/The Morning News via AP, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C (WPDE) — Attorney General Alan Wilson Monday announced the federal government will pay South Carolina $600 million and clean up weapons-grade plutonium to end six years of litigation.

“This settlement is the single largest settlement in South Carolina’s history. It is important to me that the people of South Carolina know of our long-term commitment to preventing South Carolina from becoming a dumping ground for nuclear waste,” said Wilson. “Additionally, the more than half a billion dollars in settlement money could not come at a better time as our state government and economy work to overcome the revenue shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a long, difficult road but I am proud of the leadership displayed by our state’s elected officials and the expertise of my legal team.”

According to a release, under the terms of the settlement, the Dept. of Energy remains obligated to remove the plutonium by 2037.

South Carolina will allow the Dept. of Energy 16.5 years to remove the remaining plutonium from SRS or monetary penalties will be re-installed and the department will be subject to additional legal action.

The settlement, negotiated by Attorney General Wilson, ends a highly contentious battle that involved multiple federal and state administrations and threatened to paralyze the country’s industrial complex and pit the state against the federal government for decades.

“I wish to thank President Donald Trump and his administration, especially the Department of Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and United States Attorney General William Barr for working with South Carolina to resolve this dispute. I also appreciate Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Tim Scott, Governor McMaster, Congressman Joe Wilson, and Congressman James Clyburn for not only supporting my strategy but for also providing us with a united front. Their support helped to make this settlement possible. Our State did not waiver in demanding what is right and just for our people,” Wilson added.

Attorney General Wilson will work with the General Assembly and Governor Henry McMaster to determine the best ways to allocate the money to benefit the people of South Carolina.


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