Yesterday’s Department of Energy (DOE) announcement that construction will continue at the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) through FY2014 and their release of the Surplus Plutonium Disposition Options analysis revealed this singular point … nothing has changed.
- The funding approved by Congress for constructing the MFFF in South Carolina will continue to be used for the purpose for which it was intended.
- The prior DOE studies evaluating and identifying the MOX option as the best option have been confirmed in light of today’s budget, technology, and political realities.
Again, the five processes considered for plutonium disposal were:
Option 1: Irradiation of MOX Fuel in Light Water Reactors (LWRs), i.e. MFFF or MOX Project;
Option 2: Irradiation of Plutonium Fuel in Fast Reactors;
Option 3: Immobilization (Ceramic or Glass Form) with High‐Level Waste;
Option 4: Downblending and Disposal; and,
Option 5: Deep Borehole Disposal.
A few key points from the new Options report (see summary chart on page 35):
- The MOX option is the only one that does not require treaty renegotiation and approval with Russia.
- The MOX option would complete the plutonium disposal earlier than any other option.
- The MOX option costs less than the Fast Reactor option and the Immobilization in Glass option.
- The MOX option does not have the significant siting requirements of the Downblending option and the Deep Borehole Disposal option.
- The MOX option is 60% constructed with a mature design, while analyses of the four other conceptual options are based on a range of uncertainties in technology, feasibility, regulatory, and siting assumptions.
- The MOX option is the only option that meets all of the treaty criteria for irretrievability of weapons-grade plutonium 239 through isotopic degradation, thereby ensuring nonproliferation.
- Plus, a key point from page 32: U.S. utilities have not entered into agreements for MOX fuel because the DOE has delayed signing the already-negotiated Blanket Commercial Agreement (BCA) while it reconsidered plutonium disposal options.
… and an important point not assessed in the report: The MOX option is the only option to potentially create value, as realized in the expected quantity of MOX nuclear fuel generating an estimated $50 billion in reliable, clean air electricity for American homes and businesses.
Again, nothing has changed. The MOX option is still the best option for fulfilling America’s surplus plutonium disposal nonproliferation treaty with Russia in the most timely and efficient manner.