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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The price tag for a South Carolina project intended to turn weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for nuclear reactors has risen by nearly $3 billion.

David Trimble of the General Accountability Office said in written testimony submitted to Congress Wednesday that the National Nuclear Security Administration project is now estimated to cost $7.7 billion. Its original cost was estimated at $4.9 billion.

Trimble also said the project wouldn't be complete until November 2019 -- more than three years later than originally expected.

The MOX plant would blend weapons-grade plutonium to create commercial nuclear reactor fuel and would be the first of its kind in the United States. It's being built at the Savannah River Site, a former nuclear bomb plant whose reactors have been shuttered for more than a decade.

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