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CB&I Areva MOX Services, LLC, MOX fuel fabrication plant project (South Carolina)   flag

(last updated 16 Feb 2017)

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CB&I Areva MOX Services, LLC, MOX fuel fabrication plant project (South Carolina)

NRC Docket No. 07003098
> View Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility Licensing (NRC)

CB&I Areva MOX Services, LLC (formerly Shaw Areva MOX Services, LLC / Duke, Cogema, Stone & Webster)

 

CB&I Areva MOX Services, LLC, submits updated license application for MOX fuel fabrication plant project

On Jan. 19, 2017, CB&I AREVA MOX Services, LLC submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) an updated redacted License Application for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF).
> Download: Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility License Application (REDACTED) , January 2017 (5.7MB PDF)

NRC finds loose bolts in MOX fuel fabrication plan under construction

"[...] from on or around December 23, 2015 to October 28 2016, MOX Services failed to adhere to specification DCS01-QGA-DS-SPE-V-15890-8, in that bolts used in assembling HSA ductwork in Room B-360 were found to be less than snug tight after final assembly. Specifically, at least one bolt was found to spin freely by hand alone as previously identified in NRC NCV 70-3098/2016-01-02 and documented in the applicant's corrective action program as condition report CR-2016-132 on March 22, 2016." (NRC letter to CB&I AREVA MOX Services, Feb. 2, 2017)

NRC identifies two apparent violations with construction of MOX fuel fabrication plant

(NRC letter to CB&I AREVA MOX Services, EA-16-010, Sep. 28, 2016)

U.S. budget proposes scrapping MOX fuel fabrication plant project (South Carolina)

The U.S. Department of Energy on Tuesday (Feb. 9) proposed scrapping a multibillion project in South Carolina to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium by turning it into fuel for nuclear reactors, and moved to bury the waste in New Mexico instead. Senior administration officials said the decision would save billions of dollars while speeding removal of plutonium stored at the department's Savannah River site in South Carolina.
The officials said the first plutonium could be stored at DOE's Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico in 2023, compared to 2040 for the MOX site. They said they had not yet determined whether to dispose of all 34 metric tons of plutonium at the WIPP site, or another site elsewhere. (Reuters Feb. 9, 2016)
> View FY 2017 Department of Energy Budget Request Fact Sheet , Feb. 8, 2016

Disposal of plutonium cheaper and safer than processing it into MOX fuel, leaked U.S. DOE report

A faltered US disarmament agreement with Russia has left Washington considering far cheaper and effective means of dispensing with 34 tons of surplus weapons grade plutonium, according to a leaked report from the US Department of Energy. The 68 tons of plutonium the Russian and the US agreed to dispose would power some 17,000 nuclear bombs.
The new plan for the US plutonium, {according to the DOE's leaked document}, which was reviewed by Bellona, would involve diluting and storing it at a federal nuclear waste repository in New Mexico for half the cost of current plans that envision converting it as fuel. (Bellona Aug. 25, 2015)

Department of Energy orders review of troubled MOX fuel fabrication plant project (South Carolina)

The U.S. Energy Department on Thursday (June 25) ordered a high-level review of South Carolina's troubled mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility and of possible alternatives for disposing of surplus weapons-grade plutonium.
The director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Thom Mason, will lead what the agency calls a red team assessment and report back to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in August. The team will assess the mixed-oxide process, or MOX, which recycles plutonium into fuel for nuclear reactors, and downblending, which dilutes the plutonium before its disposal. It also will review "any other approaches that the team deems feasible and cost effective, taking into account cost, regulatory or other issues," according to an Energy Department statement.
It's yet another sign of growing concern in Washington that the unfinished MOX plant at the Savannah River Site may no longer be feasible. The U.S. and Russia are working toward disposing of a total 68 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium as part of a nuclear nonproliferation agreement. But construction of the MOX facility has been plagued by cost overruns and slipping schedules, prompting the Obama administration to slow work on it while alternative disposal methods are considered.
Although South Carolina's elected leaders are committed to finishing MOX, others in Congress are critical of the increasingly expensive project. According to one recent estimate, it would cost an additional $47.5 billion to finish building and operate MOX through 2044, a 58 percent increase over previous estimates. (The Greenville News June 26, 2015)

CB&I Areva MOX Services, LLC, submits updated license application for MOX fuel fabrication plant project

On Jan. 28, 2015, CB&I AREVA MOX Services, LLC submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) an updated redacted License Application for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF).
> Download: Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility License Application (Redacted), January 2015 (4.4MB PDF)

Energy Department should replace costly Mixed Oxide Nuclear fuel program with safer, cheaper alternatives, UCS report finds

"Immobilizing Plutonium in Glass or Downblending It For Geological Disposal Would Make More Sense"
> View UCS release Jan. 14, 2015
> Download: Excess Plutonium Disposition: The Failure of MOX and the Promise of Its Alternatives , by Edwin S. Lyman, Union of Concerned Scientists, December 2014 (1.4MB PDF)

U.S. Congress approves $345 million for MOX fuel fabrication plant project

Congress has approved $345 million in funding for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility project at the Savannah River Site near Aiken. The appropriation allows for the continued construction of the project and ensures that there'll be money for the facility through fiscal 2015, which ends Sept. 30. (SC Biz News Dec. 16, 2014)

 

Extension of Construction Authorization for delayed MOX fuel fabrication plant project

NRC extends construction deadline for MOX fuel fabrication plant by 10 years: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission signed an order Nov. 13 extending the completion deadline for a mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility in South Carolina. Shaw AREVA MOX Services will have an additional 10 years, or until March 30, 2025, to finish building the facility at the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site in Aiken.
> Download NRC release Nov. 14, 2014 (PDF)

Shaw Areva MOX Services wins 10-year extension on delayed MOX fuel fabrication plant project
The contractor building the MOX plant at Savannah River Site has received a 10-year extension on the project's completion date from U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. According to a license extension request approved by the NRC on Oct. 23, the project's completion date is being pushed out to March 30, 2025. The NRC announced the extension in the Federal Register.
The 10-year period is to "bound" the additional length of time needed to complete the project, though it is unknown if the project can ever be completed or if the plant will operate, according to Savannah River Watch , a public interest group that's monitoring the MOX project.
Originally estimated to cost $4.9 billion, projections have zoomed to $7.7 billion, according to federal reports. And the price could go higher. The government estimates that the project could cost $30 billion to complete in 2019, three years past the original completion date.
The project, which is more than 60% complete, has become a flashpoint in a running battle between S.C. politicians and the Obama administration. Concerned about the rising price tag for the project, the White House proposed in March to cut funding and put the project on "cold standby," which would essential shut down the MOX program. The state sued the U.S. Department of Energy, charging that the federal government was obligated to complete the project, which employs about 1,800 workers in the Aiken area. The Energy Department later said it would continue the project, and the state dropped its lawsuit. (GSA Business Journal Oct. 27, 2014)

NRC issues Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact on 10-year extension of construction authorization requested by Shaw Areva MOX Services for delayed MOX fuel fabrication plant project:
> Federal Register Volume 79, Number 205 (Thursday, October 23, 2014) p. 63442-63444 (download full text )
> Download Request for Extension of Construction Authorization , May 12, 2014
> Access Docket ID NRC-2014-0235

South Carolina sues federal government to save MOX fuel fabrication plant project

South Carolina is suing the federal government in an attempt to save a plutonium fuel factory that boosters say will help the state's economy, but is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. At a news conference Tuesday (Mar. 18), Gov. Nikki Haley announced a lawsuit that was sparked by President Obama's plan to shelve the mixed oxide fuel factory at the Savannah River Site nuclear weapons complex near Aiken.
Environmentalists were quick to attack the state's action, saying the MOX project is wasteful, unneeded and potentially dangerous. The Sierra Club's Susan Corbett said the plant never should have been started. The federal government should have built facilities to turn the surplus plutonium into a glass waste, she said. Environmentalists say MOX fuel is more dangerous than traditional fuel made from uranium. (The State Mar. 18, 2014)

South Carolina MOX fuel fabrication plant project put on hold in 2015 budget

The U.S. Department of Energy plans to halt work on a multibillion-dollar plant that would reprocess plutonium from nuclear weapons but faces spiraling construction costs, the Obama administration's fiscal 2015 budget revealed on Tuesday (Mar. 4). The budget proposal showed that the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration will put the mixed-oxide, or MOX, Fuel Fabrication Facility, on the Savannah River near Aiken, South Carolina, on "cold standby" as it seeks other ways to dispose of or reprocess plutonium. The MOX plant would convert plutonium from nuclear weapons programs into a fuel for nuclear power plants, but is expensive and has gone over budget. The plant could cost up to $30 billion over its lifetime, a recent DOE study found. (Reuters Mar. 4, 2014)

NRC Licensing Board rebuffs challenge to Shaw Areva MOX Services' license to operate South Carolina MOX facility despite security risks

> View Union of Concerned Scientists release Feb. 27, 2014
> Download ASLB Notice Feb. 27, 2014 (PDF)

Shaw Areva MOX Services, LLC, submits updated license application for MOX fuel fabrication plant project

On Jan. 27, 2014, Shaw AREVA MOX Services, LLC submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) an updated License Application for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF).
> Download: Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility License Application (Redacted), January 2014 (4.5MB PDF)

U.S. DOE moves to abandon MOX fuel fabrication plant project

The Energy Department is moving toward abandoning a half-built factory that has cost $3.7 billion so far and was intended to make reactor fuel out of plutonium from retired nuclear bombs - part of an agreement with Russia to shrink the world's supply of nuclear bomb fuel after the cold war. (The New York Times June 26, 2013)

Shaw Areva MOX Services, LLC, submits updated license application for MOX fuel fabrication plant project

On May 23, 2013, Shaw AREVA MOX Services, LLC submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) an updated License Application (LA) for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF). This submittal of the updated LA includes the identification of security related information consistent with NRC Regulatory Issue Summary (RIS) 2005-31 .
> Download: Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility License Application (Redacted), January 2013 (4.6MB PDF)

Savannah River Site facility to be used to feed future MOX plant

> View here

Congressional committee wants updated details on MOX project at Savannah River Site

Congressional budget writers want the National Nuclear Security Administration to provide updated cost and operating projections for its mixed oxide fuel project at Savannah River Site.
The Energy & Water Development Appropriations committee proposes $500 million in construction funds for the program in fiscal 2012, but also reiterated concerns about cost overruns, delays and the inability to find clients willing to use its products. The $4.8 billion plant in Aiken County, scheduled for startup in 2016, is designed to dispose of 34 metric tons of high-grade plutonium from about 17,000 dismantled nuclear warheads. The material would be blended with traditional uranium to make fuel suitable for use in commercial reactors.
So far, however, no clients have agreed to use the fuel in an era when nuclear safety is under heightened scrutiny after Japan's Fukushima disaster. “The Committee further notes wavering interest and lack of firm commitments from U.S. utilities to irradiate MOX fuel in their reactors,” the committee wrote, in an updated version of its 2012 Energy & Water Development Appropriations bill. The appropriations committee asked that it be provided, no later than Dec. 31, “a status report that includes the status of agreements from U.S. utilities to irradiate MOX fuel in their reactors, the deadline to obtain such agreements, and the status of contingency plans NNSA has developed should it fail to achieve such agreements.”
Another issue raised by budget writers is the lack of progress on a separate facility at SRS where plutonium “pits” will be dismantled and converted to powder that can be used at the MOX plant. Critics say the lack of a disassembly facility might leave a completed MOX plant with no feedstock to operate. (Augusta Chronicle Oct. 6, 2011)
> Read the complete MOX discussion on page 110-111 of Energy & Water Development Appropriations bill, 2012 , Sep. 7, 2011 (521kB PDF - GPO)

Delays and rising costs of MOX fuel plant project cause worry

The House Appropriations Committee is increasingly concerned over rising cost and potential delays at the U.S. Energy Department's mixed oxide fuel project under construction at Savannah River Site. "The costs of this program continue to escalate, with current estimates of as much as $9.7 billion, just to construct the needed facilities," committee members wrote in the fiscal 2012 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill.
Other committee concerns include the NNSA's inability to find clients willing to use MOX in its commercial nuclear reactors. Although the Tennessee Valley Authority is exploring its use in as many as five of its reactors, the recent crisis with Japan's nuclear program will make such an alliance less likely, and much more difficult. Because MOX fuel was being tested at the Fukushima Daiichi complex damaged during the earthquake and tsunami, new concerns over its safety are likely to require new assessment studies before TVA would commit to its use, the committee said. (Augusta Chronicle June 15, 2011)

NRC issues Notice of Opportunity To Request a Hearing and To Petition for Leave To Intervene on license amendment request for Shaw Areva MOX Services MOX fuel fabrication plant project

Requests for a hearing or leave to intervene must be filed by June 21, 2011.
Any potential party as defined in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) 2.4 who believe access to sensitive unclassified non-safeguards information (SUNSI) is necessary to respond to this notice must request document access by May 2, 2011.
Federal Register: April 22, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 78) p. 22735-22739 (download full text )
> View Docket ID NRC-2011-0081

DOE plans redesign of partially built MOX fuel plant - for lack of potential clients

The U.S. Department of Energy wants to redesign its partially built mixed oxide fuel plant to make nuclear fuel for a wider variety of reactors. The facility under construction at Savannah River Site is designed to make fuel rods for pressurized water reactors in use at many commercial power plants. Under proposed changes outlined in an April 1 "interim action determination," however, the redesign would enable the plant to also make fuel for boiling-water reactors and the next generation of light-water reactors.
The changes are necessary to ensure that clients can be found to use the MOX fuel, which is made by blending small amounts of plutonium from dismantled nuclear bombs with uranium. The process renders the weapons-grade plutonium permanently unusable for nuclear weapons. The National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile, has faced challenges finding clients willing to use the fuel assemblies.
Critics of the MOX program say the plan could further inflate the cost of the $4.86 billion facility and underscores the government's inability to secure clients willing to use the fuel after the site goes into commercial production in 2018. "Redesign of the MOX plant at SRS in order to provide a wider variety of reactors to use the controversial MOX fuel is presented as a step forward but actually confirms that no progress in this troubled program has been made," said Tom Clements, the Southeastern Nuclear's campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth. The plant's cost was estimated at $1.6 billion in 2004, Clements said, and it is about 36 percent complete, with more than $3 billion spent. (Augusta Chronicle April 15, 2011)

> Download Interim Action Determination: Flexible Manufacturing Capability for the Mixed Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) , April 1, 2011 (413k PDF)

NRC panel allows groups to raise arguments on security plan of South Carolina MOX fuel plant project

Opponents of a nuclear fuel plant under construction at the Savannah River site along the Georgia-South Carolina border can argue that its security plan is inadequate before authorities decide whether to license it, a judicial panel ruled Friday (Apr. 1).
Judges on the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board voted 2-1 to allow the groups to raise arguments about the security plan of the Shaw Areva MOX Services plant being built near Aiken, S.C. The facility would take weapons-grade plutonium left over from the Cold War and turn it into a specially blended fuel consisting of uranium and plutonium that can be used to power civilian nuclear reactors that generate electricity.
The latest arguments in the case by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Nuclear Watch South and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service have not been publicly released because the judges said they involve security-related details. The panel is an independent judicial agency within the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. (The State Apr. 1, 2011)
> Download NRC release Apr. 1, 2011

NRC issues final Safety Evaluation Report for South Carolina MOX fuel plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has published its final Safety Evaluation Report (SER) for the license application by Shaw AREVA MOX Services, LLC, to possess and use radioactive material at the Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C.
> Download NRC news release Dec. 27, 2010 (PDF)
> Download Final Safety Evaluation Report , Dec. 2010 (3.2M PDF)

NRC issues draft Safety Evaluation Report for South Carolina MOX fuel plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has published its draft Safety Evaluation Report (SER) for the license application by Shaw AREVA MOX Services, LLC, to possess and use radioactive material at the Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C.
> Download NRC news release Aug. 25, 2010 (PDF)
> Download draft Safety Evaluation Report (2.8M PDF)

More plutonium identified for potential processing in South Carolina MOX plant

Savannah River Site's Mixed Oxide Fuel Facility might be directed to process more surplus plutonium than previously announced. Its announced mission is to convert 34 metric tons of plutonium into fuel safe enough for use in commercial reactors. The Obama administration, however, recently told the National Nuclear Security Administration that "it has identified the potential for nine more tons" of weapons-grade plutonium in the future, according to Clay Ramsey, the MOX facility's federal project director. (The Augusta Chronicle June 14, 2009)

DOE's Inspector General issues report on quality assurance problems identified at construction of MOX fuel fabrication facility

"Our review disclosed that the Department had procured and installed safety-class and safety-significant SSCs (structures, systems and components) that did not meet NQA-1 (Quality Assurance Requirements for Nuclear Facility Applications) quality standards. Specifically, we identified multiple instances in which critical components did not meet required quality and safety standards."

> Download Audit Report, The Procurement of Safety Class/Safety-Significant Items at the Savannah River Site, DOE/IG-0814 , U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Inspector General, Office of Audit Services, April 2009 (1.4M PDF)

Sole prospective customer of South Carolina MOX fuel plant drops contract

Duke Energy Corp. did not renew its contract to use mixed-oxide fuel that will be developed from surplus weapons-grade plutonium at the Savannah River Site. Duke was the only utility contracted to use the fuel, called MOX. Spokeswoman Rita Sipe said the company remains interested in the program and would use MOX at reactors at its Catawba Nuclear Station in South Carolina and its McGuire plant near Charlotte. But Duke was unable to reach an agreement with Shaw Areva MOX Services to extend its previous contract beyond Dec. 1, 2008.
Duke contracted with Shaw in 1999 and expected the site to begin fabricating MOX fuel in 2007. The timeline for production is actually much further away than that. The facility at the Savannah River Site is expected to open in 2016. (Charleston Regional Business Journal March 17, 2009)

NNSA issues Amended Record of Decision: Surplus Plutonium Disposition; Waste Solidification Building (South Carolina)

Amended Record of Decision: Surplus Plutonium Disposition; Waste Solidification Building

Federal Register: December 10, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 238) p. 75088-75090 (download full text )

NRC issues Information Notice regarding deficiences observed with concrete placement at planned MOX fuel plant and other nuclear facilities

In view of the deficiencies observed with concrete placement at the MOX fuel plant construction site in South Carolina, and similar problems at nuclear power plant construction sites in Finland and France, the NRC has issued an Information Notice to alert other licensees on the matter.
> Download IN2008-17: Construction experience with concrete placement, Oct. 22, 2008

NRC issues Notice of Violation to Shaw Areva MOX Services for deficiencies during MOX fuel plant construction

On July 29, 2008, NRC issued an inspection report and Notice of Violation to Shaw Areva MOX Services, citing several violations of the MOX Project Quality Assurance Plan (MPQAP).
> Download NRC Inspection Report 70-3098/2008-002 and Notice of Violation (Adams Acc. No. ML082120091)

Shaw Areva MOX Services awarded construction option for DOE MOX facility

On May 23, 2008, Areva announced that Shaw Areva MOX Services, LLC and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have signed an agreement implementing construction of the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site, located in Aiken, South Carolina. Through this agreement, valued at nearly $2.7 billion, the DOE is exercising the construction option that was included in the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility contract signed in 1999. The agreement's scope includes the actual construction of the main MOX facility and all support facilities; cold start-up of the MOX plant; and continued support of Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing activities associated with the project.
The facility will remove impurities from surplus weapon-grade plutonium and mix it with uranium oxide to form MOX fuel pellets for reactor fuel assemblies. The assemblies will then be used in commercial nuclear power reactors. The design of the 600,000-square-foot facility is based on Areva's La Hague and Melox fuel treatment facilities in France.
Construction activities began on August 1, 2007, and continue to proceed on schedule.

 

ASLB issues Notice of Oral Argument and of Opportunity To Make Limited Appearance Statements re Shaw Areva MOX Services' MOX fuel plant project

Atomic Safety and Licensing Board; In the Matter of Shaw Areva MOX Services (Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility); Notice of Oral Argument and of Opportunity To Make Limited Appearance Statements
A written request to make an oral statement must be received at NRC Headquarters by noon, EDT on Friday, August 17, 2007.
Federal Register: August 9, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 153) p. 44877-44878 (download full text )
> See also NRC release Aug. 14, 2007

 

Construction work begins on MOX fuel plant; critics fear facility undermines international security

On Aug. 1, 2007, the U.S. government began building a MOX fuel plant at the Savannah River Site. The plant, which is not scheduled to come online until 2016, is already several years behind schedule and billions of dollars over its original budget. But federal officials say the $4.8 billion project is the only safe and efficient way to dispose of some 75,000 pounds [34 t] of surplus plutonium stored at government sites around the country. That's enough plutonium to make 17,000 nuclear weapons. (Post and Courier, Aug. 2, 2007)
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) condemned the Department of Energy for proceeding with construction of the plant without honoring its commitment to make the plant available for inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

 

Duke, Cogema, Stone & Webster file license application for MOX fuel plant in South Carolina

> View NRC release Sep. 27, 2006
> Download Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility License Application, 27 September 2006 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML062750195)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has received, by letter dated September 27, 2006, November 16, 2006 (document withheld based on 10 CFR 2.390), and January 4, 2007 (a public redacted version), a license application and supporting documents from Shaw AREVA MOX Services (MOX Services), requesting a license for possession and use of byproduct, source, and special nuclear materials for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) to be located on the Savannah River Site in Aiken, SC.
Any person whose interest may be affected by this proceeding and who desires to participate as a party must file a written request for a hearing and a specification of the contentions which the person seeks to have litigated in the hearing. A request for a hearing must be filed by May 14, 2007.
> View NRC release March 15, 2007
Federal Register: March 15, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 50) p. 12204-12206 (download full text )

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting April 12, 2007, in Aiken, S.C., to discuss its review of an application by Shaw Areva MOX Services to operate a mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility at the Savannah River Site.
> View NRC release April 4, 2007

> See also: Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility Licensing (NRC)

 

U.S. and Russia sign liability protocol for plutonium disposition program

On Sep. 15, 2006, the U.S. and Russia signed a liability agreement that clears a legal hurdle for the plutonium disposition program administered by the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
The plutonium disposition program aims to eliminate a total of 68 metric tons of surplus weapon-grade plutonium (enough for more than 16,000 nuclear weapons) in the United States and in Russia, and stems from a 2000 nonproliferation agreement between the two countries. Both countries will dispose of their plutonium by converting it to mixed oxide (MOX) fuel for use in nuclear reactors. Once the MOX fuel is irradiated, the plutonium has been converted into a form that cannot be used for nuclear weapons.
NNSA is nearing completion of site preparation activities for construction of a Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina. The agency is awaiting completion of the appropriations act for fiscal year 2007 before proceeding with construction.

> View DOE release Sep. 15, 2006

 

Significant cost rise for DCS MOX fuel fabrication plant, says DOE's Inspector General

The cost estimate for DOE'S mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel plant has risen significantly since the department reported to Congress in 2002 that the plant would cost about $1-billion to design and construct, DOE Inspector General (IG) Gregory Friedman said in a report released on Dec. 23, 2005. As of July 2005, the cost estimate was about $3.5-billion, Friedman said. DOE managers agreed with the report's recommendations for procedural reforms but disputed some points, including the way Friedman calculated the cost increase. (Platts Dec. 23, 2005)

> Download: Audit Report, Status of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Inspector General, Office of Audit Services, DOE/IG-0713, December 2005 (553k PDF)

 

Groundbreaking ceremony held for DCS MOX fuel fabrication plant

On October 14, 2005, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) held a ceremony commemorating the beginning of site preparation activities for the construction of the MOX (mixed-oxide) Fuel Fabrication Facility at Savannah River in South Carolina. (Cogema Oct. 17, 2005)

 

DCS' request for MOX fuel fabrication facility license delayed

DCS' request to NRC for an operating license for a MOX fuel fabrication facility is now targeted for third quarter 2006. Duke Cogema Stone & Webster (DCS) had previously said it planned to submit the application in fiscal 2005. The delay will allow DCS to make changes to the design before sending in the application. Earlier this year, NRC issued a construction permit for the facility, but construction has not yet begun. (Platts 7 Sep 2005)

 

NRC authorizes construction of mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility at Savannah River Site

> View NRC release March 30, 2005

 

NRC issues Final Safety Evaluation Report for MOX fuel fabrication plant project

> Download: Final Safety Evaluation Report on the Construction Authorization Request for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site, South Carolina (NUREG-1821) , March 2005

 

EPA continues to have environmental concerns about MOX fuel fabrication plant project

EPA continues to have environmental concerns about the project regarding the hazardous and radioactive wastes associated with the exhaust that will be generated during operation of the proposed facility. However, EPA acknowledges that NRC will address related air emissions issues during the Clean Air Act permitting process. (Federal Register: March 18, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 52) p. 13190-13191)

 

NRC issues Final Environmental Impact Statement for MOX fuel fabrication plant

Federal Register: February 4, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 23) p. 6047-6049 (download full text )

> Download: Environmental Impact Statement on the Construction and Operation of a Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site, South Carolina (NUREG-1767) - Final Report

 

Construction of MOX fuel fabrication plant delayed

The Bush administration's budget plan for the Energy Department said groundbreaking for a MOX fuel factory planned for South Carolina had been delayed from July 2004 until May 2005. The reason is that the United States and Russia are deadlocked on the liability rules for U.S. workers and contractors who would help build a similar plant in Russia, and the United States will not break ground first. Each plant is to dispose of about 34 tons of weapons plutonium. But another problem is that after years of effort, Western nations have not raised the estimated $2 billion the Russians say they need to build and operate their MOX plant. (The Arizona Republic Feb. 9, 2004)

Department of Energy's FY 2005 Budget Request to Congress

 

NRC issues revised draft Safety Evaluation Report on proposed MOX facility

"The revised draft report concludes that DOE's contractor, Duke Cogema Stone & Webster (DCS), has not yet met all of the applicable safety requirements pertaining to construction of the proposed facility in order to provide reasonable assurance of protection against natural phenomena and the consequences of potential accidents. Specifically, the report identifies 19 open items on which the NRC requests further information from DCS before a construction authorization can be granted. These items include questions about nuclear criticality safety, fire safety, chemical safety, and the confinement ventilation system at the proposed facility."
> View NRC release May 2, 2003

> Download revised draft Safety Evaluation Report

 

NRC issues draft Environmental Impact Statement for MOX fabrication plant for comment

On Feb. 14, 2003, NRC issued its draft Environmental Impact Statement for the MOX fabrication plant for comment.
The comment period has been extended: Comments will be accepted until May 14, 2003.
> See Notice in Federal Register: February 28, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 40) p. 9728-9729 (download full notice ) and erratum in Federal Register: March 17, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 51) p. 12720-12721 (download full text )

Excerpt from executive summary of the draft EIS:

"The annual collective dose to members of the public (i.e., those living and working within 80 km [50 mi] of the SRS [DOEs Savannah River Site]) produced by routine operation of the proposed MOX facility would be expected to result in a latent cancer fatality (LCF) rate of approximately 0.0004/yr or less. Routine operation of the proposed MOX facility, the PDCF [Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility], and the WSB [Waste Solidification Building] is expected to produce insignificant air quality impacts, and would not cause exceedance of any ambient air quality standards for criteria pollutants at the SRS. However, maximum levels of PM2.5 [particulate matter with a diameter less than or equal to 2.5 micrometers] in the vicinity of the SRS already exceed the annual standard of 15 g/m3. Facility construction would contribute temporarily less than 0.1% of this PM2.5 standard level, and facility operation would contribute less than 0.01% of this level.

Construction and routine operation of the proposed facilities would not be expected to cause any disproportionately high and adverse impacts to low-income or minority populations in the SRS vicinity. Of the accidents evaluated, a hypothetical explosion accident at the proposed MOX facility had the highest estimated short-term impacts, approximately 20 latent cancer fatalities (LCFs) among members of the off-site public. A hypothetical tritium release at the PDCF had the highest estimated 1-year exposure impact, approximately 400 LCFs among members of the off-site public. However, it is highly unlikely that such an accident would occur, and the risk to any population, including low-income and minority communities, is considered to be low. However, the communities most likely to be affected by a significant accident would be minority or low income, given the demographics and prevailing wind direction. The extent to which low-income or minority population groups would be affected would depend on the amount of material released and the direction and speed of the wind."

 

NRC issues draft Safety Evaluation Report on proposed MOX facility

> View NRC release May 2, 2002
> Download Draft Safety Evaluation Report

> See also NRC: MOX facility licensing

 

NRC soliciting comments on Environmental Impact Statement for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility

> View Notice in Federal Register April 24, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 79) p. 20183-20185

The comment period originally ended August 30, 2002.

The comment period is extended to September 30, 2002.

> View Notice in Federal Register September 20, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 183) p. 59320-59321

> See also NRC: Environmental Review for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility

 

Georgia environmental group wins hearing on MOX fuel plant project

"An Atomic Safety and Licensing Board of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has awarded Georgians Against Nuclear Energy (GANE) the right to a public evidentiary hearing to investigate unresolved issues concerning a controversial proposal to manufacture reactor fuel from weapons-grade plutonium. The order, issued on December 6, 2001, granted a petition filed last summer by the Georgia citizens group."
"The NRC Board found that 8 of GANE's 13 contentions meet the agency's rigorous pleading standards. In a hearing currently scheduled to begin in October 2002, GANE will be allowed to litigate a range of criticisms of the application, including its failure to protect the public from excessive radiation doses, inadequate provision for high-level nuclear waste storage, poorly prepared seismic analysis, lack of a cost/benefit analysis in the environmental review, and security." (NCI news release Dec. 13, 2001 )
Accession Number of the LB Memorandum and Order dated Dec. 6, 2001, in ADAMS: ML013410085

 

NRC, on Sep. 12, 2001 (!), denies need to assess hazard from terrorist attacks on proposed MOX fuel plant

Excerpt from NRC response to Georgians against Nuclear Energy (GANE) et al.:
Contention 12: "SPD EIS and ER are deficient in their failure to analyze malevolent acts of terrorism and insider sabotage"

GANE's twelfth contention states as follows:

GANE contends that a license must not be given for construction and subsequently for operation of a plutonium fuel factory at the Savannah River Site which is situated on the border of Georgia on the Savannah River because it is vulnerable to malevolent acts such as terrorism and insider sabotage which could create an unacceptable beyond design basis accident. DOE did not analyze terrorism or insider sabotage in its Special Plutonium Disposition Environmental Impact Statement published in 1999. Neither did DCS in its 2000 Environmental Report which, while dismissing out-of-hand as inconsequential many credible scenarios, did not even acknowledge the real possibility of terrorism and insider sabotage (see Section 5.5 of the [DCS] Environmental Report). This deficiency may be terminal to this licensing effort. In any event, malevolent acts must be analyzed as a foreseeable environmental impact under NEPA. Lack of analysis of the malevolent acts scenario leads to failure to design safeguards and failure to plan for emergency response and mitigation measures. 27
GANE's Contentions, at 45 (footnote added). The Board should reject this contention. Other than GANE's general reference above to Section 5.5 of the DCS environmental report, the contention and its supporting bases focus solely on comments made by the State of Georgia to DOE in 1998- 99 -- before the DCS environmental report even existed. See GANE's Contentions, at 45-48. Alleged deficiencies in DOE's NEPA process are not within the scope of issues raised or referenced in the Notice initiating this CAR proceeding, and Contention 12 is therefore not admissible. See River Bend, supra, CLI-94-10, 40 NRC at 51.
Contention 12 also lacks an adequate legal basis, as GANE provides no support for its general assertion above that "malevolent acts must be analyzed as a foreseeable environmental impact under NEPA." Under the long-established rule-of-reason line of NEPA decisions, federal agencies need only address reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts arising from a proposed action, 28 and GANE does not establish that terrorist acts (involving the proposed MOX Facility or related materials) fall within the realm of "reasonably foreseable" events .

27 GANE offers no further discussion or evidence that a lack of environmental analysis of the results of terrorist acts will lead to any failures to adequately design safeguards, or to any other inadequacies regarding plans for emergency responses and mitigation measures.
28 See Scientists' Institute for Public Information, Inc. v. AEC, 481 F.2d 1079, 1092 (D.C. Cir. 1973).

(NRC STAFF'S RESPONSE TO CONTENTIONS SUBMITTED BY DONALD MONIAK, BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE, GEORGIANS AGAINST NUCLEAR ENERGY, AND ENVIRONMENTALISTS, INC., Sep 12, 2001, ADAMS Accession Number: ML012610057 )

(see also Washington Post, Nov. 3, 2001)

 

NRC Denies Duke Cogema Stone & Webster Proposal to Perform Early Site Work

On April 30, 2001, Duke Cogema Stone & Webster (DCS) submitted a request to perform early site work at the proposed mixed-oxide fuel facility located at the DOE Savannah River site. The proposed work would include moving electrical power lines; clearing the proposed construction site of utilities and temporary facilities; and construction of the administration building, warehouse, diesel generator building, and a motor control center slab. By letter dated May 15, 2001, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff informed DCS that the proposed activities go beyond the scope of what is allowed under 10 CFR Part 70, and that, if they wanted to pursue this issue further, DCS would need to file for an exemption pursuant to Subpart B of Part 70. (NRC Weekly Information Report For the Week Ending May 25, 2001)

NRC announces opportunity for hearing on proposed mixed oxide fuel facility

NRC has accepted for docketing from Duke Cogema Stone & Webster (DCS) an application for authority to construct a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility. The NRC has accepted the construction authorization request (CAR) for docketing, and, accordingly, is providing this notice of opportunity for hearing on the DCS application.
Requests for a hearing had to be submitted by May 18, 2001.
> View NRC News Release April 18, 2001
> View related Federal Register Notice (April 18, 2001)
Petitions were submitted by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Environmentalists, Inc., Georgians Against Nuclear Energy, and Ms. Edna Foster.

NRC Intends To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility

NRC has started the scoping process for the EIS.
> View related Federal Register Notice (March 7, 2001)

NRC Receives Construction Application For Proposed Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility

> View NRC Release March 2, 2001

Environmental Report for MOX fuel fabrication plant project issued

On December 19, 2000, Duke Cogema Stone & Webster issued the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility Environmental Report.
> The report is available at ADAMS (Docket No. 07003098)

Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility Application Delayed

"On December 6, 2000, the applicant, Duke Cogema Stone & Webster, informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the submittal Date for the application for the mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility has been delayed from December 22, 2000 to February 28, 2001. The Environmental Report associated with the MOX fuel fabrication facility will be submitted on December 22, 2000, as scheduled." (NRC Weekly Information Report For the Week Ending December 15, 2000)

The MOX fuel fabrication plant project

A consortium, Duke, Cogema, Stone & Webster, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy , is expected to submit an application to NRC in late 2000 to construct and operate a mixed oxide (MOX) facility in the U.S. to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium. DOE's preferred site for the facility is the DOE Savannah River Site near Aiken, SC.
The U.S. MOX facility will process approximately 70 MTHM/year (metric tonnes heavy metal per year). It uses designs and components from both the Melox and advanced Melox processes used at the MELOX plant in Marcoule (France). The aqueous processing portion of the U.S. MOX will draw upon two plants -- UP3 and UP2/800 -- from the La Hague facility and from the UP1 plant located at Marcoule.

> View DOE News Release March 22, 1999: Energy Department Selects Private Sector Team to Help Dispose of Surplus Plutonium

> NRC News Release of August 22, 2000: NRC Issues Final Review Plan For Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility
> View related Federal Register Notice (August 23, 2000)
> View Final NUREG-1718, Standard Review Plan for the Review of an Application for a Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility
The NRC held two public meetings to discuss the licensing process for the MOX fuel fabrication facility at Columbia and N. Augusta, South Carolina, on July 12/13, 2000.
> View comments received by NRC on the Draft SRP .
The next opportunity for public involvement will occur in early 2001 following receipt of the application for the license for the MOX fuel fabrication facility, which is expected in late December 2000.

> Background documents available at ADAMS (Docket No. 07003098)

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