Gov. Nikki Haley wants to pre-empt legislative action to let a Barnwell facility take nuclear waste from other states.
Utah-based Energy Solutions, which has operated the Barnwell Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility since it opened in 1971, has reportedly lobbied on behalf of the move and touted it as a revenue stream for the state.
We don’t sell our soul for jobs and money, said Haley at a news conference Thursday.
“South Carolina has become a state of quality,” she said. “We think that to go and open up that compact and take in additional nuclear waste would be a huge step backwards for the state of South Carolina.”
Policy makers have resisted similar efforts before to store nuclear waste in South Carolina.
Lawmakers in 2007 thwarted an attempt by Energy Solutions to store waste from all over the country at the state’s 235-acre site. Only South Carolina, Connecticut and New Jersey may store nuclear waste there.
Both Haley and former Governor Mark Sanford decried efforts by President Barack Obama’s administration to halt a project to build a Nevada-based nuclear repository site at Yucca Mountain. They thought the federal government should keep its promise to store spent fuel there after the states put up funds for the site.
The future of Yucca Mountain remains in flux, but Haley has no plans to back down on her position that the state’s nuclear waste should be stored at the repository, rather than at Savannah River Site.
“We’re gonna continue to push on that,” said Haley. “You know there’s nothing worse than a promise made that’s not kept.” And that promise—paid for by consumers of energy produced at nuclear plants nationwide—is a repository for nuclear waste.
According to the World Nuclear Association, utilities paid more than $17 billion into the Nuclear Waste Fund, which funded the Yucca Mountain project.
From 1983 to 2014, South Carolina consumers dumped more than $1.4 billion into the fund, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.
The State reported in February that representatives at Energy Solutions approached several lawmakers about storing more waste in Barnwell.
A spokesman for the corporation was unavailable to comment before publication.