Salt waste plant at SRS years behind schedule

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- A plan to help clean up waste at a former nuclear facility in South Carolina is years past its completion deadline and millions of dollars over budget.

      The State newspaper reports Wednesday that the salt waste processing plant at the Savannah River Site was supposed to be done in 2009, but design and materials problems mean that now it's not set to be finished until 2018.

      Early estimates from the U.S. Department of Energy placed the project's cost at $440 million. That cost later was revised to $900 million, but the Energy Department said in November that price tag is now at $1.3 billion.

      The 310-square-mile site once produced plutonium and tritium for atomic bombs. Work there is now focused mostly on research and cleaning up contaminated areas.