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MOX plutonium fuel factory at Savannah River Site, GA

Status: Under construction; under license review

Type: Nuclear

Opposition: The MOX project is opposed by Nuclear Watch South, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and Nuclear Information & Resource Service before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A public hearing will be held about MOX high-alpha waste issues and material [plutonium] control and accounting issues. The environmental groups' lawsuit is supported by public interest attorney Diane Curran and Union of Concerned Scientists physicist Dr. Edwin S. Lyman.

Alliance for Nuclear Accountability and its members groups including Nuclear Watch South, Beyond Nuclear and WAND with Friends of the Earth and Union of Concerned Scientists maintain ongoing legislative lobby in Washington, DC.

Prospect: Poor

Background: U.S. Department of Energy project to "dispose" of half the U.S. inventory of weapons-grade plutonium, 50 tons. Began as bilateral treaty with Russia, Russia program has no progress due to lack of funds. The premise is to secure weapons-grade plutonium by re-processing into reactor fuel and irradiating in reactor. The alternative preferred by environmentalists which has been all but abandoned by DOE in the course of several Environmental Impact Statements is plutonium immobilization in highly radioactive liquid waste glassification process.Project is 10 years behind schedule. Project costs have ballooned from $1.2 billion to $4.6 billion. Reactor irradiation services would be deferred to eight years in the future under the most optimistic circumstances since Duke Power's test failed and TVA has not committed nor begun lengthy licensing and testing phase. Fukushima nuclear disaster creates negative public opinion climate for MOX plutonium fuel program continuance.

Duke Power withdrew from project after failed MOX plutonium fuel test in the Catawba reactor in SC near Charlotte. TVA and Washington Public Power Supply are being courted for MOX use in their reactors, of which most under informal consideration are of the old GE Mark I design which exploded at Fukushima.

Two top-level insiders have been public with concern about unresolved chemical safety hazards in the plutonium aqueous polishing process and MOX high-radiation waste.

Sources: Nuclear Watch South: http://www.nonukesyall.org/plutonium.html
Union of Concerned Scientists: http://allthingsnuclear.org/post/3332906391/its-time-to-pull-the-plug-on-the-mox-factory-to
Friends of the Earth: http://www.foe.org/secret-plan-exposed-use-surplus-weapons-plutonium-washington-state-nuclear-reactor

York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/11/us/11mox.html
Uranium Project: http://www.wise-uranium.org/epdcs.html

User submitted on June 6, 2011