Work begins on waste facility

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Ground was broken Friday for a $345 million waste solidification building that will process liquid waste from a larger mixed oxide fuel facility designed to convert weapons-grade plutonium into commercial nuclear reactor fuel.

The new building will occupy about nine acres and is the second building in the plutonium disposition complex being constructed in the site's F Area.

The MOX facility has been under construction since August 2007. The waste solidification facility will process low-level and liquid waste streams from that plant and related programs.

"This begins the second step in safely disposing of our legacy plutonium," said Chuck Munns, the president and CEO of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, the site's managing contractor. "This is a relatively small facility by design, but it's essential to the successful operation of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility and pit disassembly operations."

The new building, scheduled for completion in 2013, will package some wastes for shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. Low-level waste will be packaged and sent to disposal areas within SRS or offsite.

The MOX facility, which is expected to open in 2016 at a cost of about $4.8 billion, is designed to dispose of about 75,000 pounds of surplus, weapons-grade plutonium by converting it for fuel use in commercial reactors.

The cleanup effort, which renders the dangerous material unusable for nuclear weapons, is part of a nuclear nonproliferation agreement between the United States and Russia to protect, secure and dispose of nuclear weapons material.

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

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SCEagle Eye
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SCEagle Eye 01/17/09 - 01:55 pm
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Once again, we can see the

Once again, we can see the DOE philosophy at work - SRS as a big entitlement program for special interests. Choose the most expensive option for disposing of plutonium (plutonium fuel, or MOX), maximize cost of that facility and proceed to build adjunct facilities (like the Waste Solidification Building) which also cost a lot of money. The cheapest option to deal with the plutonium is to vitrify it as waste, not build all these costly processing facilities. But those who feed off big government programs which benefit the few at the expense of the rest of us rammed all this through Congress. Let's hope that with a new administration that DOE won't continue to be treated as a feeding trough for redistribution of our hard-earned tax money. Fiscal conservatism in the Aiken/Augusta area has for now lost out to the socialist crowd but one day this will change.

jhvenier
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jhvenier 01/19/09 - 10:33 am
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To dispose of the waste when

To dispose of the waste when it can reprocessed into a viable source of fuel for our countries nuclear power plants is simply absurd. We need not only to provide a way to use the plutonium usefully but, also aquire technologies which will lead to further development of our country. If it was up to some of these people we would be a third world country, this non-progressional thinking is what has gotten our country in the trouble we are in now, many countries are looking to progress and we have kept at a stalemate. This is why we are losing our grip on independancy, technology, markets, futures, industry and trades. If this is the preferable "socialist crowd" then stay out!!!

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