To keep our part of the bargain, a fuel fabrication facility is under construction at the government’s Savannah River National Laboratory, near Aiken. As buildings go, it is a marvel, with concrete walls 5-feet-thick and huge quantities of ultra-high-quality steel. The whole structure could last for thousands of years.
But the project — which has more than 4,000 suppliers in 43 states and 1,800 directly employed workers — suddenly is being put on “cold standby,” a euphemism for abandoned. The U.S. Department of Energy says it is costing too much.
South Carolina is suing the Energy Department, claiming the shutdown is unconstitutional because money authorized and appropriated for construction this year will be used to terminate the project. The facility is 60 percent complete, and $4.5 billion has been spent; shutdown is projected to cost a further $1 billion.