S.C. attorney general files $100 million suit against feds over SRS plutonium

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina's attorney general filed a $100 million lawsuit against the U.S. government for money owed because of plutonium that has not yet been removed from the Savannah River Site.

The suit, filed Monday, argues the U.S. Department of Energy owes the state the money for failing to meet its promise to remove one ton of plutonium from the Savannah River Site this year.

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.

A case of such magnitude has never been filed by South Carolina against the federal government, Attorney General's Office spokesman Robert Kittle said.
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 from the state one metric ton of weapons-grade defense plutonium, the suit states.

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, according to the suit.

However, the lawsuit filed Monday only concerns money owed to South Carolina for the 2017 calendar year.

A news release states South Carolina sought the 2016 payments in the pending case before the federal court in South Carolina, but federal Judge Michelle Childs 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 release says.

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