The US Congress has approved funding for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) project located at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina, CB&I reports.
Congress' 2015 omnibus bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives on 11 December, calls for $345 million for continued construction of the MFFF in fiscal year 2015, ending 30 September.
"CB&I commends Congress for providing adequate funding for the MOX project and for ensuring its construction next year," said Philip K. Asherman, CB&I's president and chief executive officer. "MOX is one of the most significant nuclear non-proliferation projects currently underway in the world, and support from Washington is critical for project execution and completion."
The US Department of Energy's $27.9 billion FY2015 budget request, released in March, did not include any funding for the MFFF project. Instead DOE said it would place the MOX facility in 'cold stand-by' while it evaluated other plutonium disposal options.
"When the President submitted his budget request to Congress this year, he proposed a short-sighted plan that would in effect shutter MOX while other options were studied," said US Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. "I am proud that we were able to overcome this misguided effort and secure the additional funding and authority to continue construction of the MOX facility."
CB&I AREVA MOX Services, previously Shaw AREVA MOX Services, has a contract with the US National Nuclear Security Administration to design, build and operate the MOX plant. The project is being developed to fulfil the USA's commitments under a bilateral agreement with Russia, in which both countries have committed to dispose of some 34 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium as MOX fuel for use in civilian nuclear reactors.
Construction of the Savannah River MFFF began in 2007, but progress has been hampered by funding cut backs and construction delays. In November, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission signed an order extending the completion deadline for the facility by ten years, until March 2025.
Construction of MFFF in Apilr 2012 (Source: NNSA)