TVA remains interested, but not yet committed, to MOX

Friday, July 27, 2012 11:43 AM
Last updated Saturday, July 28, 2012 2:09 AM
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The Tennessee Valley Au­thor­ity remains willing to explore using MOX fuel in its commercial power reactors, but a final decision will depend on economics, safety issues and the ability to obtain Nuclear Regulatory Com­mis­sion licensing.

“Mixed oxide could supply low-cost fuel for about two decades if fully implemented,” the utility said this week in a fact sheet that coincides with the government’s release Friday of a draft supplemental environmental impact statement for its MOX program.

The fuel, to be made at a $4.86 billion plant under construction at Savannah River Site, involves blending surplus plutonium from dismantled warheads with uranium to create fuel rods suitable for use in commercial power reactors.

According to the draft impact statement, the TVA might use MOX fuel in as many as five reactors at its Sequoyah and Brown’s Ferry nuclear plants but does not yet have a “preferred alternative” on how to proceed.

“If TVA moves forward with the MOX program, TVA could start using a small number of mixed-oxide fuel assemblies … in TVA reactors in the 2018 timeframe at the earliest,” the utility said. Refuelings would gradually increase the percentage of MOX fuel to 40 percent.

The MOX program, administered by the Nation­al Nu­clear Security Adminis­tra­tion, is part of an effort to dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium – enough for about 17,000 nuclear bombs – by rendering it permanently inaccessible for use in weapons.

The program has drawn criticism from congressional budget writers over rising costs and the potential for elevated operating expenses.

The Alliance for Nuclear Account­ability has also objected to the program, saying it has not met adequate testing standards.

“Use of MOX fuel poses a safety hazard during reactor operation, and as the fuel is hotter it is harder to manage after removal from the reactor,” said Tom Clements, the group’s nonproliferation policy director.

Public meetings have been scheduled around the country to discuss the draft statement, including a session Sept. 4 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the North Augusta Municipal Center.

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SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 07/27/12 - 04:04 pm
Time to reduce the debt and cut MOX

Let's imagine that you're concerned about a growing debt being run up by big government and politicians who are serving special interests and that you want right decisions to be made for our country. Now, if you knew that disposing of plutonium as waste would cost $5 billion or that making it into experimental MOX fuel would add up $20 billion more to the debt (DOE won't reveal the total cost that we could pay), which option would you chose? We know what false fiscal conservatives like Senator Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jeff Duncan have chosen, which suits the French plutonium company AREVA just fine. As those in Congress who are actually concerned about MOX costs are taking note, how long do you think the costly budget-busting MOX charade can go on?

WC_1696 07/30/12 - 11:28 am
MOX Plant

What your SCEagle Eye missed is the COST of replacing the power that the MOX fuel would have provided but is disposed of instead. As with most of these situations, the whole issue needs to be considered when doing cost benefit analysis.
We are already perilously close to the line with power demand, and incidents like San Onfre's shutdown, and heavy power demands in the NE corridor during the summer months have pushed the systems to their limits. The MOX fuel provides a means to dispose the plutonium remainder from the Cold War, and power electrical plants in the process. the nuclear reaction inside the core renders the plutonium unavailable and unsuited to use for weapons. Areva has been operating the same process successfully in facilities in France for some time now. SHAW-AREVA MOX Services Llc. is the partnership formed to build, operate and decommission the MFFF. Shaw Group, of course, is a NYSE listed Fortune 500 Company, employing over 27,000 world-wide. The jobs it provides locally through the MOX construction is a plus as well.

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