“We’ve thought from the start that this was the wrong approach,” SRS Watch discussing MOX

CSRA News

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – It’s three decades behind schedule and costing the taxpayers more than one million a day. The MOX project is now holding on to life support ahead of a shut down that some say was inevitable.

“Yeah, we’ve thought from the start that this was the wrong approach to disposing of reactor-grade plutonium,” Savannah River Site Watch Director Tom Clements told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk. 

The facility has been under construction since 2007. The Department of Energy set a completion date of 2048. Its the purpose is to convert nuclear-grade plutonium into a safer fuel to power homes. 

Clements has been watching the developments of the MOX Project since the very beginning. His non-profit organization monitors the activities happening at the Savannah River Site

“There are between 1,800 and 2,000 people employed by the MOX project both the engineers and the construction workers so those people will obviously be impacted,” Clements added.

With billions spent, Clements say we should have never gotten to this point.

“I think both the Obama and Trump Administrations realize that the project was not viable therefore both of them have moved to termination but now it’s actually happening,” he said.

The Omnibus Appropriations Act gave power to Energy Secretary Rick Perry to terminate the project if it can be shown that another alternative is half the cost of MOX.

Besides the positive aspects of saving money for the taxpayer, the downsize to terminating the project – the workers involved.

“In the very short term, the building is going to have to be secured and all of the equipment is going to have to be inventoried, construction problems cataloged so there is a lot of work, in the short term and in the medium term, the facility may be used for another purpose,” he stated.

National Nuclear Security Administration’s recommended alternative is to repurpose the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MOX) at the Savannah River Site to produce 50 pits per year with “an enduring mission” of at least 30 pits per year at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Clements says it’s still a long way to go before that can be a reality.

“They’ve got to do something that’s called a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) which will involve public comment. The Department of Energy is saying they are going to move into this site next year but we are a long ways from rushing right into converting the MOX plant into a plutonium nuclear bomb facility,” Clements shared.

Right now, LANL’s Cold War-era Plutonium Facility 4 is the only site presently capable of plutonium pit production, according to the NNSA. 

So when will the final blow to MOX termination happen? South Carolina sued the Department of Energy in federal court to block the termination. They won the case.

The DOE now appealing the decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

That decision expected any time now.

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