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NNSA still working to place MOX in standby via Aiken Standard

The National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, reported it is still working with Shaw AREVA MOX Services, the contractor for the Savannah River Site’s Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, to place the program in a cold standby at the top of the fiscal year.

The Aiken Standard asked for updates on MOX on Aug. 27. NNSA Deputy Press Secretary Derrick Robinson wrote in an email that there were no further updates at the time.

When asked whether that meant NNSA is still working to implement a cold standby, Robinson responded with a simple, “Yes.”

The information comes about a month before the end of the fiscal year, and a month after Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz took a trip to SRS, and reported that the federal government is searching for funding streams for the MOX program.

“The issue is if there will be a sustainable funding stream,” Moniz said. “We charged the contractors to look at a different track, depending on what the funding is and its adequacy. In the end, if the budgets don’t support construction, we’ll have to act accordingly.”

[…]

The MOX program is part of a nonproliferation agreement with Russia to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium.

Naysayers of the program have said it is unsustainable, citing a Department of Energy study in April that priced the entire program at more than $30 billion.

Advocates of the program, including AREVA – a partner of the MOX contractor – said the cost is closer to $17 billion.

S.C. congressmen are fighting to secure funding for construction of the program for fiscal year 2015, which begins Oct. 1.

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