Bush Administration confirms MOX selection
January 30, 2002
In September 2000, the United States and Russia extended the START I and START II treaties on nuclear arms reduction with a political accord to reduce surplus defense plutonium in both countries by 35 metric tons. On January 23 of this year, the Bush Administration announced the Department of Energy's decision to recycle all of this plutonium into mixed uranium and plutonium oxide fuel, or MOX (1) .
The fuel will then be used to generate electricity in civilian nuclear power plants. The decision was made following the new administration's review of more than 40 proposals for the disposition of the plutonium based on economic, environmental and/or international non-proliferation criteria. It was decided not to immobilize the plutonium, saving more than 2 billion dollars and confirming the strategic value of MOX fuel, which can be used to generate electricity.
The DOE decision gives the green light to construction of a MOX fuel fabrication plant in the U.S. based on French technology currently in use at COGEMA's Melox plant. DOE selected the Duke-COGEMA-Stone & Webster (DCS) team in March 1999 to design and build the plant. Plant construction at the Savannah River site should begin in early 2004, with start-up expected in 2007.
(1) MOX is an abbreviation for mixed oxide fuel. This fuel, made of a mixture of uranium and plutonium oxides, is used in nuclear power plants to generate electricity