MOX facility at SRS gets powdered plutonium feedstock

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The first 442 kilograms of plutonium oxide made from nuclear warheads have been accepted for future use the government’s mixed oxide fuel facility at Savannah River Site.

The announcement Friday by the National Nuclear Security Ad­ministration said the powdered plu­tonium was processed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and passed a “rigorous certification process” before its acceptance by Shaw AREVA MOX Services, the contractor that will build and operate the $4.8 billion plant in South Carolina.

The MOX nonproliferation program is designed to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium by blending it with uranium to make nuclear fuel suitable for use in commercial power reactors.

The government’s original plan included building a “pit disassembly” plant near the MOX compound. Officials later opted to use several existing facilities to process the plutonium into oxide form.

In addition to the Los Alamos lab, Savannah River Site’s H Canyon chemical separations area was also assigned to produce plutonium oxide through a three-year mission announced in October 2011 that helped save about 90 jobs.

H Canyon is expected to provide up to 3.7 metric tons of feedstock, much of which will come from nonpit plutonium already in storage at the site.

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions began the repackaging and dissolution of nonpit plutonium this month, the nuclear security group said in its announcement.

The nuclear security administration, which manages the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, is working with the Tennessee Valley Authority in its quest to find clients willing to use the fuel.

The MOX fuel plant is scheduled to open in 2016, with production of commercial fuel starting by 2018.

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GiantsAllDay
10561
Points
GiantsAllDay 11/16/12 - 03:47 pm
3
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Please explain

So the first batch of feed stock is in and there is no buyer for the end product? Will the taxpayers end up eating the $4.8B?

SCEagle Eye
959
Points
SCEagle Eye 11/16/12 - 04:05 pm
3
0
Lindsey Graham to taxpayers: eat MOX cost overruns

As it is looking more doubtful if the Tennessee Valley Authority can be forced to use MOX in its aging reactors, the entire MOX program has become a big-government tax and spend program with no clear mission. Senator Lindsey Graham is keeping the program going in spite of no MOX customers and little prospect for customers. So, yes, taxpayers will have to just cough up the cash for the $6-billion MOX plant even if it's mothballed after construction is over. Hopefully, true fiscal conservatives and those concerned about the budget crisis will soon take an ax to this misguided program which continues to expect a blank check from us taxpayers.

GiantsAllDay
10561
Points
GiantsAllDay 11/16/12 - 04:26 pm
3
0
So to continue: what if they

So to continue: what if they keep receiving this plutonium "feed" and they never find an end user? Plutonium inventory at srs will go up. I thought their goal out there the last few years was to decrease plutonium inventory (one of the most toxic substances known to man). Why not refuse ANY feed until the facility is complete (or near complete) AND there are customers for your product?

SCEagle Eye
959
Points
SCEagle Eye 11/16/12 - 05:28 pm
3
0
goal of project is $$$ for contractors

GiantsAllDay is asking a key question and making some darn good points that need to be pursued. While more plutonium being brought into South Carolina now has no exit strategy, which should outrage people and responsible politicians, there is a revised and unstated goal of this project: make the contractors like French company AREVA rich and provide some temporary jobs, though very inefficiently, for the Aiken area. Senator Lindsey Graham, Rep. Joe Wilson and Rep. Jim Clyburn will not speak up against more plutonium being brought into our state with no exit strategy as long as the taxpayer big bucks keep flowing out of our pocket books and into the pockets of their political benefactors. The only budget crisis they see with this big-government project is how to keep the tap turned on and the coffers of contractors full. As far as they're concerned, it's just too bad that the billions being wasted on MOX add to the debt. Suck it up and cough up the money as you are staring their big government square in the face!

GiantsAllDay
10561
Points
GiantsAllDay 11/16/12 - 05:57 pm
2
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Let's just say

SC EagleEye: Since right now, there is no reason to believe that MOX will ever start up, lets say it doesnt, so do you think that if Graham, Clyburn and Wilson asked really, really, really nicely, New Mexico would take their plutonium back?

SCEagle Eye
959
Points
SCEagle Eye 11/16/12 - 06:43 pm
2
0
SRS plutonium shipped to New Mexico already

Well, some SRS plutonium, not suitable for MOX, has already been shipped to the WIPP salt-dome disposal facility in New Mexico. First shipment was in mid-August. All the SRS plutonium could be blended and shipped to WIPP, but that's not very feasible politically and the law which created WIPP would have be changed, which would be a fight. But the cost for this option is way, way below MOX, which is one reason it isn't being pursued. Goal of MOX boosters is to maximize costs and the WIPP option or another option to dispose of plutonium as waste would minimize costs, which is frowned on in DOE world. What the heck happened to just a bit of political leadership on this issue?! Seems like they have all sold out, fellow taxpayers, and we're on our own is stopping this MOX boondoggle which is driving up the debt.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 11/16/12 - 10:24 pm
3
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Aging

sceagleeye posted:

. . . doubtful if the Tennessee Valley Authority can be forced to use MOX in its aging reactors. . . .

Come on, this disingenuous use of the term "aging" is a weak debate ploy. Every single existing reactor in the world is aging. How could any one of them be getting younger? This use of the word "aging" as a pejorative is tiresome.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 11/17/12 - 05:22 am
2
1
pejorative? sounded

pejorative? sounded descriptive to me. people need reminding that we haven't build a new reactor in oh 35+ years

wayne2410
1239
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wayne2410 11/17/12 - 07:13 am
0
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People also need reminding we
Unpublished

People also need reminding we have not built one in 35 years because the liberals have thrown a monkey wrench into that to. They don't want to use oil, coal, nuke energy, or pretty much anything yet they want to use their electronic devices to go on the internet and complain how bad conservatives are to produce power or use oil. I sure wish all the liberals over here would take a group trip to Palestine right now, then collateral damage would be a great thing for this country.

Riverman1
94247
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Riverman1 11/17/12 - 08:20 am
2
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Yucca Mt. By Default

If there were firm plans of moving the material from SRS at a later date, I'd feel better about it. I'm afraid someone turned the road signs showing the way to Yucca Mt and pointed them towards us.

Little Lamb
49247
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Little Lamb 11/17/12 - 12:07 pm
1
0
Reactor

What is this "we" thing, omnomnom? There have been several nuclear reactors built in the last 35 years, just none in this country. However, at this very moment there is nuclear power plant construction going on in this country. Still, the materials even at the construction sites are aging. Everything is aging. For SC Eagle Eye to pick on TVA's nuclear reactors and describe them as "aging" in order to sidetrack the debate on MOX is poor debate practice, poor persuasion tactic.

If he's going to talk about something "aging," then let him contrast it with something else that is "youthing" as a contrast. He cannot do it.

Likewise, Barak Obama in 2008 and 2009 railed on and on about needing stimulus for "our aging infrastructure." Then, when the rubber met the road and states cried out for the money, he laughed and said that none of the projects were "shovel-ready" enough and he sent the money for teachers salaries and solar energy boondoggles (startup companies whose executives contributed mightily to his campaign). Most if not all of those federal loan guarantee solar energy companies are in bankruptcy proceedings, but the executives are long gone sailing on their golden parachutes, courtesy of our stimulating taxpayers.

shrimp for breakfast
5641
Points
shrimp for breakfast 11/17/12 - 11:18 pm
0
0
I used to be against nuclear power.

As I got older I realized how efficient and cheap it was. The one down side is where do you put the toxic waste? I remember when they just dumped barrels into the ocean.
I don't know what the solution is but I would think shootin the waste into space. What do you folks think?

Reindeargirl
49
Points
Reindeargirl 11/20/12 - 05:54 am
0
0
442 kilograms. .It only takes

442 kilograms. .It only takes 18 to make a nuclear bomb. We are accepting some of the worlds most dangerous materials, allowing them to be dumped on our state with no exit strategy. Our elected officials only see dollar signs. Wonder if the rich folks living in the area are aware Aiken-Augusta is becoming the nuclear waste dump of the country. . .

Reindeargirl
49
Points
Reindeargirl 11/20/12 - 06:13 am
0
0
Let me re-phrase my previous

Let me re-phrase my previous content lest anyone think rich folks care more than other folks: EVERYONE living in the Aiken-Augusta area should realize they are becoming ground zero for the nations inventory of really nasty, toxic, dangerous long lived nuclear poisons, with nowhere for them to go. The whole community should be up in arms, demanding a halt to this. .

BigCheeseBear
4
Points
BigCheeseBear 11/22/12 - 05:17 pm
0
0
Context for MOX facility at SRS

The effort and expense make more sense in proper context. To find proper context, one need go back to the Clinton administration, and to the Nunn-Lugar Legislation, where (i) MOX fabrication and burn and (ii) geologic disposal were considered as disposition options for Plutonium. Appreciating that a clever group of hacks would probably someday attempt to retrieve the Plutonium were it simply geologically disposed, MOX fabrication and burn were preferred for superior safeguards implications, among other advantages. Lead test assemblies prepared by the process being scaled at SRS have already powered commercial reactors in Virginia; it is likely that the MOX produced at SRS will be commercially viable. Even if not commercially competitive, the program has arguably leveraged the disposition of an equivalent amount of Russian Plutonium AND 10 times that mass of Russian Weapons Uranium. In an age where we spend a billion dollars-a-pop for the deterrence offered by bomber aircraft that could maximally deliver a miniscule fraction of the destructive power of this dispositioned material stockpile, one would think that the deterrence offered by permanently decommissioning this material and rendering it inferior for weapons use comes at a comparative bargain. The people of South Carolina are hosting a service to the Nation, and if they receive a shiny new facility that provides hi-tech jobs now and has commercial potential in the future, where is the problem? Finally, am I mistaken in understanding that the State negotiated a sunset provision for the ultimate removal of the dispositioned material by some future date?

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