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Greenville Business Magazine

Attorney General Announces Largest Single Legal Settlement in South Carolina History

Aug 31, 2020 11:31AM ● By David Dykes

Staff Report 

Attorney General Alan Wilson said the state of South Carolina and the United States government have reached a $600 million settlement to end six years of litigation related to the remaining 9.5 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium relocated to the Savannah River Site in the early 2000s.

Under terms of the settlement, the United States will pay South Carolina $600 million immediately, and the Department of Energy remains obligated to remove the plutonium by 2037, Wilson's office said.

South Carolina will allow the Department of Energy 16.5 years to remove the remaining plutonium from SRS or monetary penalties will be re-instated and the department will be subject to additional litigation. 

State officials said the settlement, negotiated by Wilson, ends a highly contentious battle that involved multiple federal and state administrations and threatened to paralyze the country’s industrial complex and pit the state against the federal government for decades. 

“This settlement is the single largest settlement in South Carolina’s history. It is important to me that the people of South Carolina know of our long-term commitment to preventing South Carolina from becoming a dumping ground for nuclear waste,” Wilson said. “Additionally, the more than half a billion dollars in settlement money could not come at a better time as our state government and economy work to overcome the revenue shortfalls caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been a long, difficult road but I am proud of the leadership displayed by our state’s elected officials and the expertise of my legal team.”

Wilson added, “I wish to thank President Donald Trump and his administration, especially Department of Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and United States Attorney General William Barr for working with South Carolina to resolve this dispute.  I also appreciate Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Tim Scott, Governor (Henry) McMaster, Congressman Joe Wilson, and Congressman James Clyburn for not only supporting my strategy but for also providing us with a united front.

“Their support helped to make this settlement possible. Our state did not waiver in demanding what is right and just for our people.”

State officials said Wilson will work with the General Assembly and Gov. McMaster to determine the best ways to allocate the money to benefit South Carolina residents.