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NRC report: MOX would not pose an undue risk

Ground view of the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility construction project at the Savannah River Site
Ground view of the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility construction project at the Savannah River Site

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) gave the MOX project a green light Wednesday with the release of a favorable draft Safety Evaluation Report.

The heavily-redacted, 568-page report documents NRC's staff conclusion that "the applicant's descriptions,specifications, commitments and analysis provide an adequate basis for safety and safeguards of facility operations, and that operation of the facility would not pose an undue risk to worker and public health and safety."

Issuance of the report does not represent a decision to issue the license to operate the plant, however it is a major positive step for the plant that faces consistent opposition from environmental groups. Opponents of the facility continue to challenge contractor, Shaw Areva MOX Services'  license application in proceedings before the NRC.

An operating license "will be issued only if the NRC verifies the applicant has properly constructed principal structures, systems and components. That stage is expected to be several years away," according to the document released Wednesday.

The MOX project, or to give it it's full name the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, is being constructed at the Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, S.C. by Shaw Areva Mox Services, LLC.
The project overseen by the NRC is scheduled to open in 2016, is designed to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus weapons-grade plutonium by using small amounts to make fuel for commercial reactors.

The positive safety report comes in a week where news has surfaced of a severe injury to one worker and another round of minor code violations at MOX.

MOX is yet to find a customer for their $4.8 billion product, with agreements with Duke Power lapsing and the Tennessee Valley Authority's interest currently being evaluated.


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