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MOX work force is growing

2010 employment expands to 1,800

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The construction work force at the U.S. Energy Department's mixed oxide fuel plant at Savannah River Site has expanded to 1,800 this year and will continue to grow through 2012.

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The $4.87 billion project now employs about 1,800 workers, with peak construction expected in 2012 for the 2016 opening.  Special
The $4.87 billion project now employs about 1,800 workers, with peak construction expected in 2012 for the 2016 opening.

"We've gained about 400 people since last summer," said Clay Ramsey, the National Nuclear Security Administration's MOX federal project director.

The $4.87 billion project, scheduled to open in 2016, will dispose of surplus plutonium from dismantled nuclear bombs by blending it with uranium to make commercial reactor fuel.

Workers have been assembling sections of concrete and rebar since construction on the heavily fortified building began in 2007.

"We expect to start installing the roof later this summer over on the east side, and we'll work our way across on the west side," Ramsey said.

The facility will have three levels on the fuel-manufacturing side and five levels on the chemical-processing side.

Work has also been completed on a 57,000-square-foot administration building nearby and on a warehouse-type building where equipment to be used in the plant is being assembled and tested.

The project's work force, Ramsey added, will continue growing as the building moves closer to finishing and occupancy.

"We would expect it to peak in the 2012 time frame in the 2,200 to 2,300 range," he said. "We hope we have enough parking."

Another recent milestone, Ramsey added, was the completion of 3 million work hours without lost-time injuries. "We're very proud of that," he said.

Notable changes in the project in the past year include the Energy Department's decision to locate the plutonium-disassembly facilities away from the MOX plant, rather than on adjoining land, as the original plan suggested. That function will now be consolidated in Savannah River Site's K area, where a secure plutonium-storage facility is already maintained in an old reactor complex.

The plant will be capable of processing 3.5 metric tons of plutonium each year by blending small amounts of the material with larger volumes of uranium oxide -- a standard ingredient for commercial reactor fuels. The objective is to guarantee that the material can never again be available for nuclear weapons.

Because it will make commercial reactor fuels, the project also requires licensing from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is monitoring the construction.

"They have filed a license application, but that process doesn't get going into full gear until they are closer to completion of construction," said NRC spokesman Roger Hannah.

"But once it is determined the construction meets all the standards, we look at their application for an operating license," Hannah said.

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SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 03/24/10 - 07:50 am
Meanwhile, in the real world

Meanwhile, in the real world the national debt grows by leaps and bounds and the pocket book of citizens across Georgia and South Carolina continues to shrink. Selecting the most expensive way to manage plutonium, MOX, is slamming the majority with debt while a few benefit and contractors get rich. Ain't nuclear socialism beautiful!

MOXrocks 03/24/10 - 12:45 pm
Hello again, the

Hello again, the ever-present, eagle eye. The national debt grows only because our government is spending money on things that are people's responsibility and not the federal government's. Healthcare, etc. It is however the responsibility of our government to protect the nation as a whole and people can't just get rid of plutonium at a whim. If the MOX technology is the most expensive way to get rid of this material, then please, do share what other way would be the best way to dispose of it? Doubt you'll have a solution for that one. Have you forgotten that this project will eliminate billions of dollars in security storage of plutonium? Hmmmm... wait for it.......saving money or letting the crap sit and decay? DING DING DING, we have a winner! You make the choice. Not only that, it's going to be burnt to provide commercial power that will not be putting CO2 in the air, right?. You tree huggers love that, right? So get off the high horse come back down to earth and realize the project out there at SRS is employees, mostly CSRA citizens, that provide stability to large part of local economy. Shut down the project and see how many patrons you get at movies, restaurants, hotels, sporting events, etc. I am sick of people complaining about SRS and money. You know what, it has helped provide decades of financial investment and stability to the CSRA. This is NOT a pork and barrell sort of project. It is making a real difference in regards to national security and energy.

Gleep 03/25/10 - 10:28 pm
First, I agree with all the

First, I agree with all the things MOXROCK said. OK, Eagle by calling the MOX Project: "the most expensive way to manage plutonium, MOX, is slamming the majority with debt while a few benefit and contractors get rich." MOX is not the most expensive way to manage plutonium. MOX is likely both the most and least expensive option, by virtue of being the only option for disposition. Many anti-MOX people are proponents of vitrification, i.e. mixing the plutonium in concrete and burying it in a long term storage. That storage was to be Yucca Mountain, now being moth-balled by the administration. Eradicating the cost of guarding the plutonium supply will be close to equal the cost of plant construction within approximately ten years. The fuel rods produced will reduce depency on foreign imports of oil used as fuel in Gas Turbine Electrical Generators. This technology has been proven successful for years in France. Guarding spent fuel rods will be little more than the cost of guarding all previously spent rods which are still stored at the plants that burned them. Further, a MOX "spent" fuel rod can be recycled with a recovery of 95% of its energy capability when new. Your comments seem to cover the gamut of false, misleading, inaacurate, unfair, and unsubstantiated claims. A particular unsubstantiated claim is that contractors "get rich"? If you have a reason to believe that contractors unfairly "get rich" from MOX project work, you need to be in contact with DOE or the NRC to make these claims, and quit polluting thes articles with "Mythinformation". Have a nice day.

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