MOX inspections find three minor violations

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's most recent round of inspections at the U.S. Department of Energy's mixed oxide fuel facility yielded three notices of violation for minor procedural infractions, according to a copy of the report made public this month.

The 53-page report says the violations included failure to adequately perform final inspections to scan poured concrete for debris; failure to implement a "time out process" during wet weather that could allow rainwater to mix with concrete; and "failure of the software development plan to address certain requirements specified in the project's federally approved Quality Assurance Plan."

Inspectors, who conducted extensive reviews at the construction site from July 1 to Sept. 30, stated that many programs -- including testing, mechanical and electrical work, adherence to policies and other construction -- were "performed in a safe and quality-related manner."

The $4.8 billion MOX facility, scheduled to open at Savannah River Site in 2016, is designed to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus weapons-grade plutonium by using small amounts to make fuel for commercial reactors.

The inspections evaluated construction of principal structures and included quality assurance and documentation activities, the report said.

The four violations identified by the NRC were assigned a priority level of IV, the least serious on the agency's scale. All have since been corrected, the report said.