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PostPosted: May 22, 2018 9:01 pm 
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South Carolina Republicans prepare last-ditch effort to save a federal nuclear project

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South Carolina's Republican leaders are pursuing a last-ditch effort to save a federal nuclear project at the Savannah River Site that is billions of dollars over budget and decades behind schedule. Attorney General Alan Wilson sent a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Tuesday informing him that the state planned to sue the federal government over the abandonment of the project that was intended to turn Cold War-era nuclear weapons into fuel for power plants. This isn't the first time South Carolina has sued the Department of Energy over the troubled nuclear project, known as MOX or the mixed oxide fuel fabrication facility. But the pending lawsuit comes at a pivotal time in the project's history. President Donald Trump's administration, like President Barack Obama's team before it, wants to dump the MOX program and implement a new strategy to deal with 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium. Wilson's threat of litigation follows more diplomatic attempts to convince federal leaders to drop their plans to kill the nuclear project that is decades in the making. Gov. Henry McMaster attended a private dinner with the president at the White House on Monday evening. Photos from the dinner showed McMaster seated directly across the table from Perry. Brian Symmes, the governor's spokesman, said McMaster discussed the MOX project with Perry at the dinner. But that seems to have done little to soften the Department of Energy's position.

"Each and every time the governor has had an opportunity to advocate on behalf of the people of South Carolina, he has taken it," Symmes said. "He will continue to work directly with the attorney general to make sure South Carolina's interests are protected."

Construction on the MOX facility near Aiken began in 2007 with an estimated cost of $4.8 billion and a completion date of 2016. Since then, the price tag for the project has ballooned to more than $17 billion and the estimated completion date has slid to 2048. More than half a dozen federal reports and congressional testimony showed the project's contractors failed to produce a reliable schedule, started construction with just a fraction of design finished, and let pipes and other material corrode in storage. The Department of Energy released a report earlier this month that laid out an alternative plan to mix the plutonium with another material at the Savannah River Site and ship it to a separate facility in the New Mexico desert where it will be stored in salt-lined caverns nearly half a mile underground. That new proposal, known as dilute and dispose, is estimated cost less than half of what it would take to finish the MOX plant and process all of the plutonium into commercial fuel. South Carolina leaders, according to Wilson's letter, plan to challenge those findings in order to save the unfinished MOX facility and the hundreds of jobs it promised to create. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and other members of South Carolina's congressional delegation have questioned whether the Department of Energy could actually succeed in storing the plutonium in New Mexico. They remain skeptical that federal officials can obtain the permits to ship and store all of the plutonium there.

"DOE has chosen a path that would render South Carolina the nation's 'dumping ground' for plutonium," Wilson wrote in his letter to Perry.

Former Department of Energy officials and other scientists say the process is already proven to work and far less risky than turning the plutonium into fuel for the country's power plants.

"The dilute and dispose process has already been used for about 5 metric tons of plutonium. It's already established," said Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist with the Union for Concerned Scientists. "It's the simplest process available. So I don't think there are any technical issues going forward."

State officials have less than a month to stop the Department of Energy from shutting down the project.


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PostPosted: May 27, 2018 10:18 pm 
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Another SC nuclear boondoggle could soon meet its end. This time it's $7B in taxpayer money wasted


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PostPosted: Jun 02, 2018 2:34 pm 
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MOX project dead, more waste and 1,800 jobs from replacement

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On the eve of South Carolina seeking an injunction to try and preserve the MOX project at Savannah River Site, advocacy groups release a report where federal agencies consider the project dead but are proposing to put a key production facility for nuclear weapons in its place. But putting a plutonium pit production facility inside the building that would have housed the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility could generate 1,800 but also high-level waste, the groups said.


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PostPosted: Jun 08, 2018 4:48 pm 
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Federal judge approves MOX injunction, halting full project stoppage


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PostPosted: Jun 30, 2018 3:10 pm 
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Senate budget holds money for MOX termination only

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The Senate passed its version of the federal 2019 budget Tuesday, with $220 million to continue terminating the mixed oxide fuel facility at Savannah River Site and no money to continue construction. It does request, however, $59 million to pursue the “dilute and dispose” alternative to MOX for getting rid of 34 metric tons of plutonium. The Senate version is different from an earlier version passed by the House, and those differences will have to be resolved by a conference committee.

“As in FY 2018, the Administration proposes termination activities for the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility project and continuing to pursue the dilute and dispose option to fulfill the United States’ commitment to dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium,” Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, wrote to a Senate appropriations subcommittee in April. “The $220.0 million for the MOX Facility will be used to continue terminating the project and to achieve an orderly and safe closure. The scope and costs will be refined in subsequent budget requests when the termination plan for the MOX project is approved. The request also includes $59.0 million for the Surplus Plutonium Disposition project to support the dilute and dispose strategy.”

The House version included $335 million “to sustain the current pace of construction on the MOX facility in fiscal year 2019.” The bill also contains a provision to allow the secretary of energy to terminate the project “if requirements in Section 3121(b) of the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act are satisfied.” Within funds for “material management and minimization,” the House bill includes $30 million to expedite the removal of one metric ton of plutonium from South Carolina. It does not include funding requested to start related construction activities for the “dilute and dispose” alternative. The House version was passed before the Department of Energy announced its intent in early May to stop construction of MOX.


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PostPosted: Jul 02, 2018 3:18 pm 
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DOE considering new locations, weapons uses for some SRS plutonium

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In order to remove 1 metric ton of defense plutonium from South Carolina within two years, as a federal court has required, the U.S. Department of Energy is considering the plutonium's nuclear weapon uses. According to a June 13 progress report, the DOE and its National Nuclear Security Administration are re-examining the possibility of repurposing some Savannah River Site plutonium for "future defense programs."

"Approximately 1 metric ton was identified for possible use by the weapons production program," the report reads. "The amount of candidate programmatic material at SRS is limited; most of the surplus material is not suitable for weapons program use."

The DOE's prospective plan would shift the plutonium from SRS to another site, either for interim storage or plutonium pit production. Plutonium pits are nuclear weapon cores, often referred to as triggers. Potential out-of-state relocation sites for the 1 metric ton of plutonium have been identified, according to the DOE. The June report did not specify where. Site studies concluded in April. Environmental impact assessments for moving the plutonium, required by the National Environmental Policy Act, are already underway and could be completed by the end of 2018, the report notes. In 2017, a U.S. District Court judge ordered the DOE to remove 1 metric ton of plutonium from the state within two years, the result of a lawsuit launched by S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson. At the time, Wilson celebrated the ruling as a major win. The DOE has stated disposing 1 ton of plutonium via downblending, also known as dilute-and-dispose, would take until fiscal year 2025 to complete at current funding and operation levels. A court-received declaration made by Henry Allen Gunter, then a plutonium program manager and technical adviser at SRS, reinforced the DOE's claim. More funding and more trained personnel, according to the June report, would speed things up. But planning related to dilute-and-dispose – mixing plutonium with inert material for burial at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico – ceased in June due to another court order that protected the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility. The defense- and weapons-use option, according to the DOE's report, vastly undercuts the 2025 estimate: "Indeed, the department believes that it is possible that, if successful, this option might allow the department to meet the current two-year timeline imposed by the district court," the report reads. According to the DOE, the plutonium is "safe and secure in its present location." Moving it costs money and poses radiological, safety and security concerns, all of which are listed at the end of the report. Eventually, the plutonium would have to be moved to Los Alamos National Laboratory or back to SRS for pit production. On May 10, the DOE and the U.S. Department of Defense recommended a pit production mission for SRS, which muddies the waters a bit. Those plans have not yet been finalized. Los Alamos currently does not have enough room for the 1 metric ton, the DOE report states. Holding it at an interim location incurs additional costs. More information and detail, including timing, will be made available in December, the June report states.


So basically, the plan is to make the plutonium back into weapons?


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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2018 3:36 pm 
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Lewis Carroll on his best day could not come close to these turkeys.


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PostPosted: Jul 07, 2018 2:12 pm 
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DOE eyes boosted plutonium disposal abilities at SRS

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By September, the DOE hopes to have two shifts, seven days a week, processing and downblending plutonium.

Dilute-and-dispose is a plutonium disposition method that involves mixing plutonium with inert material for storage at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico – problematic in its own right. The June report is the result of a lawsuit S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson and the state won in December 2017. U.S. District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs ordered the DOE to remove 1 ton of defense plutonium from South Carolina within two years and also ordered the department to submit progress updates. The DOE is now "reasonably confident" it can remove the 1 metric ton by the court-required deadline, according to the June report. The potential 10 new workers will have to undergo additional training – which is already underway, according to the report – and meet new qualifications.


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PostPosted: Jul 13, 2018 3:46 pm 
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DOE memo: MOX support could jeopardize other Savannah River Site missions


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PostPosted: Jul 28, 2018 10:51 pm 
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DOE asks court to shut MOX, delay plutonium removal


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PostPosted: Aug 01, 2018 3:39 pm 
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Defense bill includes conditional money for MOX

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A defense funding bill approved by the U.S. House last week contains money for the mixed-oxide fuel facility at Savannah River Site, but includes a provision that would let the energy secretary decide not to spend it. While it would require the Secretary of Energy “to carry out construction and project support activities” relating to MOX, it also would allow the secretary to waive the requirement if he satisfactorily explains his action to the congressional defense committees. The Senate’s version of the bill would have prohibited the Department of Energy from spending any money to terminate construction and project support activities for MOX, but the conference committee cut it. The bill was negotiated by House and Senate lawmakers after competing versions were approved in each chamber. It was approved, 359-54, and now goes to the Senate. The bill also addresses the mission to produce plutonium pits for nuclear weapons, something that has been considered for relocation from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to SRS, where MOX could be repurposed. The bill directs the Secretary of Defense to contract with a federally funded research and development center to conduct an assessment of the plutonium strategy of the National Nuclear Security Administration. It also would require the Secretary of Energy to submit a plan for producing 31-80 plutonium pits at Los Alamos, in case the MOX facility is not operational and producing pits by 2030. The $716 billion defense policy bill also would give the military a 2.6 percent pay hike, the largest in nine years.


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PostPosted: Aug 01, 2018 9:36 pm 
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90% of worlds power reactors are enriched uranium/light water moderated. The mind is highly conditioned for the same. Lifter is a revolutionary idea and the evolutionary MOX has received only limited support. Two evolutionary ideas that are likely to be implemented only by determined people are
1. Th-Pu MOX. This will produce longer lasting fuel and reduce running costs. A bonus will be creation of superior fissile U233.
2. Higher boiling organic moderators. This will reduce reactor vessel costs.
The US seems to have closed its eyes and ears to these developments.


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PostPosted: Aug 14, 2018 3:54 pm 
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Trump signs defense bill; package authorizes MOX money, questions SRS pit production

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The FY19 NDAA, this year named after U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., authorizes $220 million for continued Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility construction and, just a section later, casts doubt on the U.S. Department of Energy's ability to both jumpstart the plutonium pit production program and bring it to SRS. The $220 million is to be used for continued MOX work: construction, design, long-lead procurement and site preparation, according to NDAA language.


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PostPosted: Aug 24, 2018 3:10 pm 
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U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson: 2019 defense bill a good thing for SRS

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On Thursday, at a district tour stop at Shealy's Bar-B-Que in Batesburg-Leesville, Wilson said he was ultimately happy with the NDAA, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on Aug. 13. Wilson attended the signing ceremony at Fort Drum, New York. The NDAA, a set of laws that defines the nation's defense-related spending, authorized $220 million for continued MOX construction, design, long-lead procurement and overall site preparation. That's the same amount allotted to MOX in the president's February budget request. It's also significantly less than what's shown up in years prior.

I had wanted more, but, my goodness, that’s a lot of money," Wilson said. "We’re talking about a quarter-billion dollars, gee whiz.


Yes, Congressman, that is a LOT of money...


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PostPosted: Aug 29, 2018 7:00 am 
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https://www.aikenstandard.com/news/mox- ... ecfa6.html


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