MOX facility faces big changes

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Contractors building the $4.86 billion mixed oxide fuel facility at Savannah River Site were warned this week that high turnover among its professional staffers and a lack of competition among material suppliers could increase the project's cost and affect its completion schedule.

In a discussion of "significant changes" that have occurred with the project since last year, the National Nuclear Security Administration's fiscal year 2012 budget request stated that Shaw AREVA MOX Services is experiencing "significantly greater than expected" personnel losses from the expansion of the U.S. commercial nuclear industry.

"Over 15 percent of the project's engineering and technical personnel have left for other nuclear industry jobs in the last year with pay increases of at least 25 percent," the report said. "Finding experienced replacements has become difficult and expensive."

The MOX complex, scheduled to open in 2016, is designed to dispose of plutonium from dismantled nuclear bombs by blending small amounts of the material with uranium to make nuclear fuel for commercial power reactors.

Because of the complexity of equipment and construction standards, the same nuclear professionals needed for the MOX project are in high demand for other nuclear construction programs, such as Southern Nuclear's Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Ga.

When engineers are hired away from the MOX project, the report said, replacement workers are being hired without the required nuclear experience and must be trained -- at additional expense -- before they can be authorized to perform work under federal Nuclear Quality Assurance standards.

The MOX project also faces potentially higher costs because of difficulties in finding suppliers and subcontractors capable of building and installing equipment that meets federal standards.

"It has been necessary to station dedicated MOX facility quality assurance and engineering personnel at supplier and subcontractor locations to train personnel and ensure fabricated equipment and installations meet (federal nuclear) requirements," the report said. "The lack of experienced nuclear equipment suppliers has in turn resulted in a lack of competition for the work and higher than expected bids as the inexperienced suppliers are uncertain how much effort is required to meet those requirements."

As a remedy to situations in which qualified suppliers and subcontractors are unavailable, too expensive or so inexperienced that they present unacceptable risk, the U.S. Department of Energy has authorized Shaw AREVA MOX Services to "self-perform" a limited amount of fabrication and installation.

So far, the personnel and supplier issues are being contained through the use of special funds set aside for such programs, but those resources are limited.

"The MOX project has allocated contingency and management reserve funds when needed to address these issues and to mitigate overall project risks," the budget report said. "While allocation of reserves funds has remained within overall planning limits, the project team must continue to actively manage these issues in the future to mitigate any potential cost and schedule impacts."

The project remains on schedule and within budget, and workers have installed more than 76,000 tons of reinforced concrete and 15,000 tons of steel rebar, in addition to completing 11 auxiliary buildings in the MOX complex. All that, the report said, was completed while achieving more than 4 million "safe work" hours.

Karen Randall, the communications manager for Shaw AREVA MOX Services, said she could not answer questions about the report Tuesday because she did not have enough time to get approval.

Comments (19) Add comment
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localman
5
Points
localman 02/15/11 - 02:40 pm
0
0
One large reason for the

One large reason for the turnover is MOX pays its contractors and direct employees less than the nation's average.

exmox
5
Points
exmox 02/16/11 - 10:00 am
0
0
Contrary to what the article

Contrary to what the article states, people haven't left the job becasue of new positions, they were let go. MOX is eliminating people at an alarming rate. I work there and see what is happening. The French seem to be running the show over here. Their goal seems to be to extend this project and their bank accounts as long as they can. They also have people in management positions that have fake college credentials. Morale is at an all time low here. People are afraid they will be next to go, while the French stay. What is wrong with this picture.

atom.girl
19
Points
atom.girl 02/16/11 - 11:15 am
0
0
The MOX factory construction

The MOX factory construction is on time 10 YEARS BEHIND SCHEDULE. It is on budget, gone from $1.9 billion to almost $5 billion. "exmox" says it right ... the goal is to extend the project and bank accounts ... MOX is the ultimate "money for nothing" boondoggle EVER. The contractor's acronym SHAMS speaks for itself. All the MOX support buildings have been cancelled so now the Los Alamos lab in New Mexico is going to crank out a couple of tons of plutonium feed by 10 YEARS FROM NOW to be made into MOX, while the junk plutonium they carted in from Hanford and Rocky Flats is being invaded by drugstore beetles in the defunct K reactor where it is stored. There are NO REACTORS lined up to even use MOX!! This is a big deal, the DEAL BREAKER for MOX. The rickety old reactor at Hanford and at TVA are CONSIDERING using MOX ... they haven't begun to undergo lengthy NRC license review or the risks of testing the plutonium MOX fuel. The taxpayers are being totally bamboozled by MOX. We could be glassifying the whole lot of it and getting on ... PLUTONIUM IMMOBILIZATION HO!

SCEagle Eye
895
Points
SCEagle Eye 02/16/11 - 11:48 am
0
0
Thanks for the comment of

Thanks for the comment of "exmox." It is of concern how far AREVA has sunk its claws into DOE over the last decade or more. In France, the company stays afloat because it's a government operation (socialist) and it has learned that it can conduct operations, such as reprocessing, as they will be propped up by government. Seems like they have brought the same business model to the US - use government programs to suck the tax payer dry. Why are our so-called fiscal conservative politicians letting this happen - are they in cahoots with the French? - and why is there essentially no Congressional oversight of this project?

waterboy
0
Points
waterboy 02/16/11 - 12:10 pm
0
0
The engineers that are

The engineers that are leaving can't stand working at he site. Working at SRS entails a long commute and long lines at the guard shacks. The moral of the MOX professionals would be much higher if DOE would have kept them in Aiken...not out at the site. Working at the site stinks when you are used to working in Aiken or Charlotte!

Bubba
144
Points
Bubba 02/23/11 - 02:23 pm
0
0
Enough.

Enough.

exmox
5
Points
exmox 02/20/11 - 11:09 am
0
0
Dear Bubba, I cannot post who

Dear Bubba, I cannot post who the culprits are at the MOX project that have fake credentials. I think I can say that those people have stated that they have 4 year degrees and PE's from Kennedy Western. Just this type of knoweldge, that is known to workers there, is troubling because it showes no checks on the true education levels of those the gov't is hiring. Kennedy Western is supposed to be on a gov't watch list because of it's diplomas for sale.

Bubba
144
Points
Bubba 02/23/11 - 02:24 pm
0
0
Jabbering.

Jabbering.

AnonMox
0
Points
AnonMox 02/22/11 - 08:17 pm
0
0
I want to expand on Nucpro’s

I want to expand on Nucpro’s point number 4.

The change in work schedule is called an “Alternate Work Schedule”.
· It reduces off-days 25% (each pay period).
· It increases commute time and expense 12.5% (per pay period).
· It reduces paid holiday hours 10% (per year).
What about an employee that has a conflict and cannot work the “Alternate Work Schedule” due to commitments made on the schedule they agree to when they accepted the position(such as taking classes, or participating in a prayer group, or volunteering at a church or hospital)? Can their supervisor approve not working the “Alternate Work Schedule”? No. Can their Manager approve not working the “Alternate Work Schedule”? No. Surely their department Vice-President can approve not working the “Alternate Work Schedule”. No, only one person, the project President can approve someone working the schedule they agreed to when accepting the job rather than the “Alternate Work Schedule”. I wonder how many supervisors or managers would dare even ask to have a waiver to the “Alternate Work Schedule” for an employee.

No wonder people want to find work elsewhere.

exmox
5
Points
exmox 02/23/11 - 06:58 am
0
0
People who were hired by

People who were hired by Areva and Shaw were told when they started that they would have a job for life. That those companies would help find them positions whenever they needed to leave or their job ended. From all the people I have talked to that have left, all the help they received was off the site. Those companies made it seem like they care about us here. Sorry, it is a job, not an adventure. We have French who are supposed to be consultants only, as managers. And they are not doing a very good job of it. As for on time and ahead of schedule, beleive that and I have some great property for you, it is a little swampy though. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors here. Bottom line, what the public is being told and what is truth, is two different things. Listen to what people are saying who work here.

Bubba
144
Points
Bubba 02/23/11 - 02:26 pm
0
0
Already.

Already.

masterpc
0
Points
masterpc 02/23/11 - 01:12 pm
0
0
Bubba your name fits you very

Bubba your name fits you very well. But as long as your are happy in your beliefs there, so be it. MOX is a government cash cow. The managenment is bad. Most of the people here are not competant. I hope to be leaving this site soon. I have seem most of the good people either leave or be let go. They are the lucky ones. As I see the only ones who care are gone or soon to be.

Bubba
144
Points
Bubba 02/23/11 - 02:26 pm
0
0
All this has made my head

All this has made my head hurt. Comepetent. Seen.

Nucpro
0
Points
Nucpro 02/23/11 - 05:04 pm
0
0
For a guy who supposedly

For a guy who supposedly works on the MOX Project, BUBBA, how can you be posting at 1:26 when you should be hard at work? Last time I checked 1:26 PM falls within the MOX Project core hours. Please tell me you are not using a government computer to do this???????

Bubba
144
Points
Bubba 02/28/11 - 10:27 am
0
0
I can't believe I actually

I can't believe I actually get drawn back into this tripe. OK Pro, run over to the document repository and pull up the Project Procedure on Property. Look up de minimus use. 9 words during late lunch would qualify under de minimus use, but I was sitting outside, enjoying a sunny day and posting from my smart phone. Speaking, as I am, of how the pot called the kettle black, did you type your seven point manifesto from a Blackberry the other day at 12:09pm? No, not so likely. Everytime I engage in this bizarre debate my IQ gets lower. Sorry I hurt you feelings with the answer to those seven points. You showed me getting my comment pulled. That hurt.

masterpc
0
Points
masterpc 02/25/11 - 01:03 pm
0
0
Once again I am reminded why

Once again I am reminded why the MOX project is a cash cow. I have been told to finish what I am working on to get it out the door. The problem with that it is wrong. I found things during the course of the project that won't work. I have years of experience on my type of work and have tried to prove my point. Only to be told to just finish it, they will catch it later. Management knows what we are sending out the door is bad, but they fear there jobs. Nice cushy paychecks. By later they mean part of the thousands of change notices they have. Most of those are handled by incompetents. We also have people going to the vendors when told things aren't write. But things keep moving foreward, badly. And don't get me started on the software issues we have here. 3 different CAD packages and Teamcenter. Teamcenter is a file management program we use that has taken years and millions of dollars to try to fix. That is not even adding in the lost time where employees just sit and do nothing, or time lost because we have to redo everything. That has caused massive project delays. Management has known it was a problem, but were too afraid to do anything about it. Other then that, everything is peachy keen.

jebsdaddy
5
Points
jebsdaddy 03/14/11 - 08:52 pm
0
0
I left the mox project 5

I left the mox project 5 years ago after being there for 2 1/2 years. I did mechanical engineering and design on many of the units for the mox project. The basic problem was that machine design methods were dictated by non machine design personel. Many people there created designs that from a distance might look ok but were nothing more than cut and paste messes that were full of mistakes. These mistakes then multiply at exponential rates when they are used to create other designs. I can't imagine how bad it is now. It is a shame because this is a straight forward machine design for someone that adheres to the basic and simple principles of establishing a correct foundation and building from there. The managers didn't have a clue about real machine design and didn't care to learn either. Just create drawings to reach milestones. PS: The French engineers etc.. that I worked with were not the problem.
At that time, my pay was the most that I had made and I left with no job to go to because it bothered me so much to see so much wrong that was just being passed forward.

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