|published Friday, January 04, 2013 ||2577 Views :: 0 Comments|
Jan 04, 2013
By Thomas Clements
From the Aiken Leader Blog
|Photo by: High FlyerThis is what a $7-billion+ government-funded project being protected by big-spending politicians looks like at the end of December 2012. The plutonium fuel (MOX) MOX factory - in lower right in photo - now under construction at the Savannah River Site by Shaw AREVA MOX Services, was presented by DOE as costing $1.6 billion in 2004, with a completion date in 2007. Now, costs have skyrocketed and start-up remains speculative, underscoring concerns by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that DOE does not have in place proper management controls over costly, complex construction projects. The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) estimates the overall remaining cost of the MOX project, including construction and the yearly operating cost of a stunning $500 million, is around $18 billion. A virtual blank check for MOX means that urgent clean-up projects at SRS and other important parts of the DOE budget are under growing stress. The DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has hidden both the cost of construction of the MOX plant and the life-cycle cost of the project from the public and Congress. The big question remains: how long can this deceptive tactic hold? |
The Department of Energy (DOE) has formally announced the next meeting of the Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board (SRS CAB) – on Monday, January 28, 2013; 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. and Tuesday, January 29, 2013; 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Double Tree, 2651 Perimeter Parkway, Augusta, Georgia.
The public is encouraged to attend the meeting and make comments on SRS issues of concern. See below for text of Federal Register notice of Friday, January 4, 2013.
While a detailed agenda will be released soon, it is expected that the lengthy delay in a key high-level waste facility, the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF), will be discussed. Delays in the facility were outlined in an article in in Columbia, South Carolina newspaper on January, 2, 2013:
“SRS factory years behind schedule, millions over budget” (The State, January 2, 2012)
Cost impacts due to the 5-year delay in SWPF start-up will likely have severe impacts on the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) budget. A full explanation of how the project will be financed, a detailed presentation on the reliability of the design, who is accountable for the costly delay and design problems and when the facility will start up must be presented at the meeting, according to the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA).
Also to be raised at the meeting will be the controversial idea being promoted by special interests to bring the nation’s highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel from nuclear reactors sites to SRS for "consolidated storage." This scheme will likely be widely opposed by residents in the Aiken-Augusta area and throughout South Carolina.
Those concerned about SRS becoming a spent fuel dumping site are encouraged to attend the meeting and voice their concerns. To facilitate Aiken residents in expressing their concerns and learning about spent fuel dumping schemes, a “Don’t Waste Aiken” Facebook page has been established: https://www.facebook.com/DontWasteAiken
|published Tuesday, November 27, 2012 ||2965 Views :: 0 Comments|
Nov 21, 2012
By Thomas Clements
From the Aiken Leader
Photo by: Tom Clements, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability
CEO-designate Bill Johnson address the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) board meeting on November 15. The issue of TVA's testing and use of plutonium fuel (MOX) was notably absent from the board's agenda. Based on cost, technical and public relations problems, Mr. Johnson will have an easy decision before him to terminate TVA's consideration of weapons-grade MOX, a new fuel form never before commercially used. According to the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, the MOX turkey must not be pardoned and Congress must put it on the chopping block.
Columbia, SC – The Tennessee Valley Authority, the main nuclear utility that the Department of Energy is pursuing for use of plutonium fuel (MOX) made from surplus weapons plutonium, continues to stand up to DOE pressure to test and use the experimental MOX fuel.
The TVA board met at the Northeast Alabama Community College in Rainsville, Alabama on November 15 and the controversial MOX issue was avoided during board deliberations. In attendance was Bill Johnson, the new TVA CEO set to begin in January 2013. Even though DOE is now preparing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on MOX use, the MOX issue has not yet appeared on the agenda of the TVA board and TVA continues to maintain its stated position against MOX use.
In the public “listening session” at the start of the board meeting, the Alliance of Nuclear Accountability and several other organizations and individuals spoke about the foolishness of MOX testing and use by TVA and urged the agency to withdraw its consideration of MOX. ANA delivered a letter to board members pointing out problems with pursuit of MOX.
|published Friday, October 12, 2012 ||3398 Views :: 10 Comments|
Oct. 11, 2012
By Rob Pavey
From the Augusta Chronicle
Environmental groups asserted this week that design changes and other factors will add at least $2 billion to the cost of the government’s mixed oxide project at Savannah River Site.
The one-of-a-kind MOX plant, which has been under construction six years, is designed to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium by blending small amounts with uranium to make fuel rods for commercial power reactors – a process that forever renders the plutonium unusable for weapons.
In joint comments responding to a revised supplemental environmental impact statement addressing changes in the MOX program, 40 environmental groups said updated budget figures are needed – both for construction and operating costs.
|published Thursday, October 11, 2012 ||2841 Views :: 1 Comments|
October 11, 2012
Yesterday, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), in conjunction with over 40 other public interest organizations, submitted comments
opposing the MOX plutonium fuel program to the Department of Energy (DOE). The Mixed Oxide Plutonium fuel, or MOX, program would dispose of surplus weapons plutonium by turning it into experimental plutonium fuel (MOX). The groups oppose MOX for both fiscal and technical reasons and instead endorse preparation of a new analysis to review cheaper and safer options to manage plutonium as nuclear waste.
The groups’ comments were submitted as part of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Draft SEIS) on plutonium disposition
. The Draft SEIS is required by the National Environmental Policy Act before the MOX program can move ahead. The comments focus on DOE’s poorly formulated plan for testing experimental MOX fuel and for its use in commercial nuclear power reactors. The cost of DOE’s plutonium fuel program, which has been poorly received by utilities, has soared, with about $17.5 billion yet to be spent. This figure is more than three times the cost of disposing of plutonium as nuclear waste.
|published Thursday, August 23, 2012 ||3322 Views :: 1 Comments|
For immediate Release: August 23, 2012
Alliance for Nuclear Accountability
Tom Clements, ANA, Columbia,SC, tel. 803-834-3084
Katherine Fuchs, ANA,Washington, DC, tel. 202-544-0217, ext. 2503
Columbia, SC - A presentation to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on experimental Mixed Oxide plutonium fuel (MOX) made from surplus weapons reveals a major hurdle for the MOX program at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site. On August 8, NRC staff inthe preliminary stages of licensing MOX plutonium fuel was informed by Global Nuclear Fuels (GNF) that MOX intended for use in boiling water reactors (BWRs) would need to undergo extensive testing, delaying full-scale MOX production and use.
|Brown's ferry reactor in AL, where the DOE plans to use MOX|
GNF, which makes BWR fuel at its facility in Wilmington, North Carolina, revealed that its licensing plan involves testing sixteen “lead use assemblies” (LUAs) between 2016 and 2025. MOX made from weapons-grade plutonium has never been tested or used in a BWR and the NRC agreed that such MOX was a “new fuel form” requiring multi-year testing in a reactor. During this test period, no commercial BWR MOX use could take place.
This news comes just as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) conducts a series of hearings on its MOX plans, which fail to address GNF’s extended testing schedule for the new fuel. At the first hearing on the DOE’s Draft Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Draft SEIS), in Los Alamos, NM Alliance for Nuclear Accountability Director Susan Gordon stated “No MOX plant operational schedule is presented, no plan or schedule for MOX testing in [Tennessee ValleyAuthority] or "generic" reactors is presented and no schedule for full-scale use of MOX is presented. Therefore, no Record of Decision can be issued.”
|published Wednesday, August 22, 2012 ||1578 Views :: 2 Comments|
Aug 22, 2012
By Associated Press
LOS ALAMOS — Anti-nuclear activists are questioning a proposal to ship more plutonium to New Mexico.
Several activists lined up Tuesday evening in Los Alamos for the first in a series of public hearings on how best to dispose of surplus plutonium from the nation’s nuclear weapons program.
One plan being studied by the Department of Energy calls for the shipment of 7 metric tons — or what one activist estimates is enough to power nearly 3,000 warheads — to Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Savannah River site in South Carolina for processing into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors.
|published Monday, August 06, 2012 ||1625 Views :: 0 Comments|
Holy cost overruns, Batman!
Aug 5, 2012
By Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board
Appropriate, because cost overruns in the nation’s nuclear weapons complex have reached comic book proportions. But this isn’t funny. In fact, the ineptitude and incompetence of the National Nuclear Security Administration is becoming a real threat to our nuclear deterrence and our national security.
The price tag to refurbish the B61, a nuclear bomb designed by Sandia and Los Alamos national labs in the 1960s, has doubled from about $4 billion two years ago to $8 billion, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration. And it might get worse. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, says an independent review being done by the Defense Department puts the cost even higher, at $10 billion.
This budget buster is hardly an anomaly.
|published Tuesday, July 31, 2012 ||2516 Views :: 13 Comments|
Federal Register Notice Obtained in Advance, with Meetings Dates in NM, SC, TN, AL
For Immediate release
July 26, 2012
Contact: Tom Clements, tel. 803-834-3084, cell 803-240-7268, firstname.lastname@example.org
Columbia, SC – A key Department of Energy (DOE) environmental document analyzing disposal of 13.1 metric tons of surplus weapons-grade plutonium and which is to be formally released on Friday, July 27, is inadequate and must be discarded, according to the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a public interest organization which has been monitoring the program since its inception in the mid-1990s.
“Even though questions about the cost and direction of the program to dispose of plutonium as nuclear fuel are growing, the document breaks no new ground and poses few new options which are badly needed concerning disposal of the nation’s surplus plutonium,” said Tom Clements, Nonproliferation Policy Director for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA). “Given the significant obstacles that confront this program as now conceived, DOE must begin a full review of plutonium disposition options and develop new approaches not tied to use of costly experimental plutonium fuel.”
|published Saturday, July 28, 2012 ||1279 Views :: 0 Comments|
Jul 28, 2012
By John Fleck
From the Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer
After spending $382 million on a failed 13-year effort to build a plant in South Carolina to dismantle plutonium parts from old nuclear warheads, the federal government is now considering doing the work in an existing building at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
An announcement Friday on the latest effort to dispose of the nation’s surplus plutonium also raises the possibility of sending some leftovers to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico. Three public hearings on the proposal are scheduled in New Mexico next month.
|published Tuesday, July 17, 2012 ||2175 Views :: 4 Comments|
News of Poor Quality Piping Comes Week before NRC “Status” Meeting on MOX Plant Construction at the DOE’s Savannah River Site, Piping Issue to be Raised at Meeting
July 17, 2012
For Immediate Release
Contact: Tom Clements, 803-834-3084, cell 803-240-7268
MOX Services July 12 letter to NRC Available on Request
Columbia, SC --- Quality of important piping in the construction of the plutonium fuel (mixed oxide fuel, MOX) plant at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina has emerged as an issue of concern, according to a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
Shaw AREVA MOX Services, in charge of the MOX plant construction, has admitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it has received stainless steel piping from BF Shaw which does not meet required specifications. In a July 12 letter to the NRC, which is reviewing a license application for the facility, the company admitted that some of the piping failed a key test but did not reveal if any of the low-quality pipe had already been placed in the MOX facility.
MOX Services revealed in the letter that some of the ½-inch pipe delivered to the MOX plant was evidently subjected to improper heat treatment and thus did not meet the rigorous standards required for materials being used in the MOX plant construction.