There is a facility under construction in South Carolina, called the MOX facility, which will make nuclear fuel using uranium and plutonium. It is important to complete it and make it operational, and here is why:
Americans can sleep soundly knowing that peaceful use is being made of some of the world’s most dangerous nuclear materials. Nearly 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium from Russia’s dismantled nuclear weapons has been made into fuel used at U.S. nuclear power plants to produce electricity.
The idea that the MOX facility doesn’t need to be built seems to have become the conventional wisdom in anti-nuclear circles. What Markey and other critics are saying is that the plutonium should be encased in glass and disposed of as waste. Such an approach does not lead to nuclear safety because the plutonium could be retrieved from the glass and be used to make a weapon. Russia rejects the idea of encasing the plutonium in glass for that very reason and threatened to stop converting its plutonium into reactor fuel if the U.S. halts construction of the MOX facility.
The U.S. should live up to its nonproliferation commitments. The way forward to a peaceful future requires completion of the MOX facility. In addition, it is ultimately less risky and less costly for the United States to turn plutonium into reactor fuel. The safest place for plutonium is in a reactor, where it will produce electricity, rather than in a warehouse or a waste repository.