- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) - U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told his Russian counterpart last year that U.S. authorities may need to use a different method to destroy weapons-grade plutonium rather than rely on an over-budget facility in South Carolina.

Moniz told reporters in Atlanta on Wednesday that Russian officials were open to discussing the possibility. Relations between the two governments have been strained since the crisis over Ukraine.

President Barack Obama’s administration wants to put the mixed-oxide plant at the Savannah River Site near the South Carolina-Georgia border on “cold standby.”

Project costs have ballooned. Moniz said the administration was concerned the projected lifetime costs of $30 billion or more could not be financially sustained.

Lawmakers in South Carolina and Georgia have called on the Obama administration to keep funding the program.

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