Agency wants information on SRS plutonium intended for MOX

Friday, March 21, 2014 8:35 PM
Last updated 9:58 PM
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A South Carolina health official on Friday pushed federal leaders for more information on nuclear materials at Savannah River Site that were destined for the mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility.

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Catherine Templeton wrote a letter to U.S. Energy Department site manager David Moody and Doug Dearolph, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s site manager. In the letter, Templeton requested the status of plutonium material at the South Carolina site that was to be processed by the MOX plant, which is being shut down before completion.

“Given this new information, DOE should clarify the waste status of the plutonium and plutonium mixtures at Savannah River Site and describe how the material will be handled going forward,” Templeton wrote.

The multibillion-dollar MOX facility was intended to convert 34 metric tons of American weapons-grade plutonium to commercial nuclear fuel to help fulfill an international nonproliferation agreement with Russia.

The NNSA, which manages the MOX project, began shutting down construction earlier this month after fiscal 2015 federal budget proposals called for placing MOX on standby while assessing more cost-effective methods.

Without MOX to convert the plutonium, Templeton wrote “the technologically feasible options for the material scheduled to be processed at MOX appear to be either disposal or accumulation before disposal.”

According to South Carolina regulations, the plutonium intended for MOX could be reclassified as “mixed-waste” requiring its disposal. The letter requests more information on the waste so DHEC can determine a classification for it.

Templeton said Friday in a statement: “If the material contains hazardous waste, the Department of Energy must dispose of it properly within one year, or keep MOX open to avoid the reclassification.”

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SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 03/22/14 - 12:59 am
DHEC asleep on plutonium

This letter reveals that DHEC hasn't been tracking the plutonium disposition program as it should. Of the 13 metric tons of plutonium now stored at SRS about 6 metric tons of the most impure material are already being considered in a current Supplemental EIS for disposal as nuclear waste. DHEC has never claimed authority over stored plutonium and hasn't negotiated with DOE for such authority. Remember that the State of SC lost a federal court case when it tried to block this material from coming into SC as it had no clear disposition path (and still doesn't)? Using DHEC's logic, they should be pushing for the dirtiest plutonium to be processed as waste as has been DOE's plan, right? But DHEC has been silent on the plutonium issue till now. DHEC seems to have let the hoary head of bungled plutonium politics into its top office. This attempt to use DHEC to push an agenda in support of the failed MOX mission will be ineffectual.

GiantsAllDay 03/22/14 - 01:52 am
DHEC going after DOE and

DHEC going after DOE and NNSA?? The are quaking in their boots right now and Dearolph and Moody are losing sleep. The thing is, the Augusta Chronicle will print anything--but I can't even read on here what the status is on pending legislation underneath the dome in Atlanta. The AJC has a pretty good chart on their website if anyone is interested.

Riverman1 03/22/14 - 12:06 pm
DHEC and SC Have Legitimate Concern

Regardless of what DHEC has or hasn't done in the past, they have a legitimate concern and right to know what is going to be done with the waste. If SCEagleEye is right there are plans to get rid of 6 tons out of 13 tons of waste. When will the 6 tons leave? What about the other 7 tons? Isn't it true that a tiny amount can be deadly over a wide area?

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