South Carolina Files Largest Lawsuit Ever Against Feds Over Plutonium Removal

The state of South Carolina is set to make history with a $100 million lawsuit against the federal government.

The Boston Herald reports that SC is suing over the US Department of Energy’s failure to live up to an agreement to remove a metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium from the state.

For years the state has been after the feds to pay up its fines for not dealing with the problem, which under a previous deal amounted to $1 million per day for each day the plutonium was not removed, to eventually be capped at $100 million for the year.

Earlier this year, a judge said she couldn’t force the government to pay up, ruling instead that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims was the best venue to deal with the money issues. U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs told both sides to come up with a removal schedule for the materials on their own.

Childs has also ruled South Carolina couldn’t claim the feds were violating the constitution by failing to complete the mixed-oxide fuel project at the Savannah River Site, a sprawling former nuclear weapons plant along the South Carolina-Georgia border.

The lawsuit filed Monday deals with $100 million in fines the state says it’s owed for this year, with Wilson’s office saying the state will separately pursue fines owed for 2016.

The government had planned a processing plant for converting weapons-grade nuclear material into fuel for nuclear reactors, though the plant remains incomplete and wildly over-budget (surprise, surprise), leaving a lot of nuclear material with nowhere to go.

Though the story carries all the usual hallmarks of big government — waste, inefficiency, lethargy — the federal government’s response to it appears not to be a partisan issue for the time being:

President Barack Obama’s final executive budget allocated money to begin shutting the project down. In a budget proposal released in May, the Trump administration followed the Obama administration’s lead, proposing to mothball the project and pursue an alternative disposition method for the plutonium.