The schedule for disposing of plutonium at Savannah River Site’s mixed oxide fuel facility would be extended by two years under a new version of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Bill released Monday.
The markup released by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon would add two years to schedules that call for the National Nuclear Security Administration to provide detailed reports on the project’s cost and operations timetable, along with key production objectives.
The MOX plant is designed to dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium that comes from surplus nuclear bombs by blending it with uranium to make commercially available reactor fuel.
Its current projected cost is $4.8 billion.
Among the deadlines that would be extended is a requirement that the government begin removing one metric ton of plutonium yearly from South Carolina by 2014 or pay the state $1 million per day in “economic and impact assistance.”
That deadline would move to 2016.
A similar payment would be triggered in 2020 if the project fails to process at least at one metric ton per year, or three tons total for any two consecutive years.
That penalty date would move to 2022 under the proposed amendments.
The current construction schedule calls for the plant to be materially complete in 2016, with the ability to begin producing reactor fuel sometime in 2018.