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Contractor is notified of violations

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has leveled new criticisms of quality control programs involving material for use in the U.S. Energy Department's $4.8 billion mixed oxide fuel fabrications facility under construction at Savannah River Site.

In a preliminary report made public Friday by the Friends of the Earth environmental group, NRC inspectors issued a notice of violation to the facility's contractor, Shaw Areva MOX Services, which has 30 days to respond.

The allegations stem from visits by NRC inspectors to two facilities that manufacture piping and tanks, according to a letter from M. Scott Freeman, acting chief of the NRC's Construction Inspection Branch, to Shaw Areva MOX Services President David Stinson.

The companies were B.F. Shaw, Inc., of Laurens, S.C., which makes piping; and Joseph Oat Corp., of Camden, N.J., which builds tanks, according to the notice of violation, to which the NRC assigned a priority level of IV -- the least serious on the agency's scale.

Among the findings at BF Shaw: visual inspection procedures for quality control evaluation of piping did not meet basic requirements; one examiner's credentials did not meet requirements; MOX Services failed to review BF Shaw's weld repair and quality control memos; BF Shaw failed to track deficiency reports linked to previous audits.

Among the findings at Joseph Oat Corp.: rules for reporting weld defects/repairs to MOX Services were not followed; tanks were fabricated without a formal weld repair/rework procedure in place; MOX Services' review of welder qualifications failed to detect that a welder who worked on the project was not qualified; an examiner involved in visual and liquid penetrant examinations failed to perform those tasks using approved procedures; tests of repair welds were not done according to specifications.

Although the violations were assigned a low priority level, the increased scrutiny of the MOX project might be linked to a recent inquiry by the Energy Department's Inspector General, whose office was critical of other procurement and quality control issues, said Tom Clements, the southeastern nuclear campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth.

"I would think, because they've seen earlier problems with quality control, that the NRC is taking extra steps to monitor suppliers to make sure they provide proper material," he said.

NRC spokesman Roger Hannah said, however, that onsite visits to facilities that manufacture components for nuclear projects are relatively common and are simply part of the NRC's job.

"It is done very often, even with offshore suppliers," he said.

The MOX facility, which is 15 percent to 20 percent complete, is designed to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus, weapons-grade plutonium by using small amounts to make fuel for commercial reactors. It is scheduled to open in 2016.

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

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patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 05/17/09 - 06:22 am
0
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Lack of inspection on welds

Lack of inspection on welds and repairs, improper containment tests, inferior material, and all it gets is a level IV from the QC people? This is some scary stuff.

SCEagle Eye
959
Points
SCEagle Eye 05/17/09 - 06:26 am
0
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The name of the game with

The name of the game with this troubled MOX program is --- money. Lots of contractors are raking in the dough for this questionable project, which is the engine that keeps it going. It would still be cheaper and quicker and safer to treat the plutonium as waste. But when you mix contractors' interests with big government you get a scheme called MOX.

Even Duke Energy has decided not to provide reactors to use MOX, leaving the construction project pointless. If fiscal conservatives and national interests were in control, this parochial project would be terminated.

trucksareforgirlz
0
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trucksareforgirlz 05/17/09 - 08:01 am
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Does anyone remember the

Does anyone remember the movie Silkwood? The NRC may have slapped Shaw and Oat with only a level IV violation at this time, but the project is only 15 - 20% complete; it's still a skeleton. The violations they discovered now could have lead to horrific disasters with deadly consequences once the project was completed and "up and running" had they not been discovered AND corrected. Will they actually be corrected? Follow-ups are not being performed on past "noted" deficiences. Hmmm. I wonder if there were more violations the NRC missed simply because other possible violations were hidden from them during the audit. Sounds like sheer greed on the part of the companies and personnel. Lots of money going to lots of folks who possibly are not qualitified nor care about completing this extremely complex construction job correctly. Disasterous consequences could be in store for the entire CSRA when this project is put into actual use if deficiencies such as these continue and are possbily NOT discovered AND corrected.

Reindeargirl
49
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Reindeargirl 05/17/09 - 09:24 am
0
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Shoddy workmanship is likely

Shoddy workmanship is likely what forced the removal of French made MOX fuel from the Catawba reactor. . .an accident in a reactor burning MOX fuel would release much more radiation than one using conventional fuel. Why are going forth with this plan to use plutonium as a fuel when vitrification would be cheaper, faster, cleaner and safer. Its one of those instances when we started down the wrong road and now we don't know how to turn back. Like most bad ideas, it will only be halted after a catastrophe.

The Knave
24
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The Knave 05/17/09 - 12:49 pm
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Ooooo, ooooo, patriciathomas

Ooooo, ooooo, patriciathomas is scared. Be afraid, be very afraid. (Some say that "she" is a "he," which perhaps explains the evidence of a consistently convoluted state of mind.) The scariest thing about MOX is that it is another in a long line of DOE boondoggles. As another commenter pointed out, it is being built to produce a product for which there is no customer. Duke Energy, its only customer ever, has bailed out. So, a Federal government that is never shy about spending tax dollars, whether it be ruled by Republi-cons or Demon-rats, just keeps on spending on useless make-work projects. One would have hoped that the administration that gave the go-ahead on this multi-billion-dollar project (that would be The Shrub's) would have learned from the British experience. The UK built the Sellafield MOX plant and it has been a financial disaster. But, American politicians seem to be unable and unwilling to learn anything from anyone at anytime. There is probably no reason to be concerned about the material and fabrication problems at SRS-MOX because this white elephant will likely never produce anything.

justus4
113
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justus4 05/17/09 - 01:19 pm
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The NRC is laying the
Unpublished

The NRC is laying the foundation to reject an expansion of SRS and use those federal funds at another location. Due to the reckless leadership of that state, their elected senators, and the lack of diversity in upper management, more problems will be uncovered. But using political clout that effects the local economy is un-American U say, Ha! SRS will continue to lose it's lofty perch due to construction flaws associated with poor performance by contractors. This will make it easier to reject their future expansion projects and give excellent cover. A good strategy.

Reindeargirl
49
Points
Reindeargirl 05/17/09 - 03:24 pm
0
0
Actually, Knave, the MOX

Actually, Knave, the MOX program is the brainchild of the Clinton administration, a failed attempt at controlling the extensive Russian plutonium stockpile created from years of reprocessing to make weapons. This "duel track" method was supposed to be a way to tie up all usable plutonium into fuel for light water reactors. The Russians soon bailed out of the agreement to go in a different direction, but we all know in our failing governmental structure there is no easy way to stop a bad idea that has already been funded. . .unless you're Reagan and you have something against clean air and electric cars.

The Knave
24
Points
The Knave 05/17/09 - 03:47 pm
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TO: Reindeargirl Yes, The

TO: Reindeargirl Yes, The Philanderer conceived, and The Shrub gave birth to this huge ugly piglet. The point is, it was during The Shrub's reign that the significant no/no-go milestones occurred, and the decisions were made to spend serious tax money. And of course, the village idiots, Little Lindsey Graham, Jim The Demented Demint, and Gresham Empty-Suit Barrett ("conservatives" all) were cheer leading every step of the way for this giant-sized porker. RE: "there is no easy way to stop a bad idea that has already been funded" Not necessarily true -- the "funding" authorizations are annual affairs and the tap could be shut off, if we could only find enough congress-people who are not spendthrift, self-aggrandizing, mindless numskulls who are bent on bankrupting (more than already is the case) the Republic.

Reindeargirl
49
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Reindeargirl 05/17/09 - 04:16 pm
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Ah, but then you would be

Ah, but then you would be assuming someone would be willing to stand up to the Aiken/Augusta boosters, who cry "jobs, sir, jobs" and they all back down. . .

Dodarighthang
0
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Dodarighthang 05/19/09 - 07:33 am
0
0
all things comes to the light

all things comes to the light mox . . . . even insects!!!!!
maybe now you'll lisen. or, will you fire and blackball nrdc !!! nope, don't think ya can!!

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