SC Gov. McMaster objects to plutonium settlement and the $75 million in attorneys fees


The day before South Carolina’s attorney general announced a settlement that will bring $600 million to the state and start the process of removing deadly plutonium stores, Gov. Henry McMaster said he couldn’t support paying private lawyers in the deal $75 million or waiting two decades for the waste to be gone.

In a letter to S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson written Sunday, McMaster said the roughly $75 million in fees the state will pay four S.C. law firms that worked on the deal — orchestrated by Wilson, the state’s members of Congress and Trump administration lawyers — is grossly excessive for the work they did.

“I simply cannot endorse the payment of $75 million in attorneys’ fees under the circumstances,” McMaster, a former state attorney general, told Wilson in a letter written Sunday.

In his letter, McMaster also said Wilson’s settlement agreement doesn’t give enough assurances that the U.S. Department of Energy will remove the deadly plutonium from South Carolina “in a timely manner.” The plutonium is stored at the Savannah River Site.

At a State House press conference Monday, Wilson celebrated the settlement agreement as a big in for the state. Asked by The State about the attorneys’ fees, Wilson said he knew the fees were high, but the attorneys who will get those fees devised the winning legal tactic for getting the state a $600 million settlement. The $75 million in fees comes out of the $600 million.


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