The contractor building the mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility at Savannah River Site said work continues as normal despite the National Nuclear Security Administration announcing four weeks ago it would begin shutting down the plant.
Shaw Areva MOX Services President and COO Kelly Trice said in a message to employees, obtained by The Augusta Chronicle, that the company has not received direction from the NNSA or U.S. Energy Department to change its construction status.
“As we wait for direction, I want to let you know that we continue building the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility under our FY 2014 budget and direction. Until we are directed otherwise, we will continue working on this important nuclear nonproliferation project with a business as usual approach,” Trice said in the message.
After the Obama administration recommended in its fiscal 2015 budget request placing MOX on “cold standby” while assessing more cost-effective methods to dispose of surplus weapons-grade plutonium, the NNSA said it would work with the contractor in March to shut down construction.
The NNSA manages the project, which would convert 34 metric tons of U.S. plutonium into commercial nuclear fuel to fulfill an international nuclear nonproliferation agreement with Russia.
Shutting down MOX was met with opposition from lawmakers, including South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. The state of South Carolina is suing DOE, NNSA and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz for using money that Congress approved to build the multibillion-dollar project to shut it down.