COLUMBIA, S.C. — The federal government needs to keep its promise and move nuclear waste being stored in South Carolina to a site in Nevada, Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley said Thursday.
Haley toured the Savannah River Site near Aiken and praised the facility, which made nuclear bombs at the height of the Cold War, as one of the state’s most important and capable employers. But she said there is no need for federal officials to delay plans to move the radioactive waste from the facility.
“We need them to stay true to their promise and put that waste where they permanently promised that they would put it and where we have paid for it to be,” Haley said.
Haley’s Democratic opponent agreed with her, promising to fight any effort to keep the nuclear waste in South Carolina.
“South Carolina has fulfilled her obligation, and it is time, for once, that Washington did the same,” Vincent Sheheen said in a statement.
Other South Carolina Democrats, U.S. Reps. John Spratt and Jim Clyburn among them, have criticized President Barack Obama’s campaign promise to end a project started in 2002 to store the nation’s nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
Haley said too much taxpayer money has been spent on the project to abandon it.
“Taxpayers have spent $20 billion assuming Nevada was going to take our waste,” Haley said, adding that South Carolinians have paid $1.2 billion in their part. “And due to the political election, the Obama administration shut that down.”
Republicans have suggested Obama wants to shut down Yucca Mountain to make sure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wins re-election in Nevada. The site was supposed to be the final resting place for nuclear waste now accumulating at about 80 sites in 35 states.