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Audit: Lack of cost control at SC nuke fuel plant

COLUMBIA (AP) — A new audit says officials cannot control costs at a multi-billion-dollar nuclear reactor fuel project at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.

The inspector general of the U.S. Energy Department says in a new report that the National Nuclear Security Administration and a private contractor have been “largely unsuccessful” in keeping tabs on the facility to turn weapons-grade plutonium into commercial reactor fuel.

The project is part of a nonproliferation agreement between the United States and Russia. It is slated to open in 2016, although officials estimate it won’t be completed until 2019.

The Obama administration intended to mothball the effort, whose price tag has ballooned over the years to nearly $8 billion. South Carolina sued, and the U.S. Energy Department is funding the program through this fiscal year.

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