Last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued its final Safety Evaluation Report for the MOX (mixed oxide) Fuel Fabrication Facility. Currently under construction on the Savannah River Site, the MOX Facility is a Department of Energy program to construct a facility that will convert former nuclear weapons material into nuclear fuel as part of an arms reduction agreement with Russia. This nuclear fuel will be used by commercial reactors and, in doing so, will make the materials unusable for weapons.
The NRC, the independent body that oversees the safety of the nuclear industry, performed an extensive review and analysis of the facility. While this report does not represent a final decision to issue the license, which is expected in coming years, the report does positively conclude that there is an “adequate basis for safety and safeguards of facility operations and that operation of the facility does not pose an undue risk to worker and public health and safety.” An article in the August Chronicle discusses how the NRC studied
“the mixed oxide fuel facility’s ability to protect nuclear materials from theft; the adequacy of environmental studies; and safety features to prevent any criticality within the plant’s many processes.
Dozens of accident scenarios were evaluated, according to the report, from which portions were edited for security or proprietary technology reasons. Those analyses included fires, leaks, explosions, acid spills, tornadoes and earthquakes. Radiation hazards from explosions were calculated out more than six miles to the Savannah River Site boundaries.
This is just one milestone for the nuclear facility construction project that has been making major progress in South Carolina. As part of the Shaw AREVA MOX Services team commissioned to construct the facility, AREVA has been dedicated to the successful construction of this facility which will be an achievement for both technology and non-proliferation goals.
For more information on the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility, and to see the construction progress, be sure to check out an episode of MOXtv here.