NRC approves MOX manufacture at SRS

1 April 2005

An alliance of Duke, Cogema and Stone & Webster (DCS) has been granted Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approval to construct a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel manufacturing facility at Savannah River in South Carolina.

The Savannah River Site is a Department of Energy national laboratory and the facility will be the first to be built in the USA. It will be owned by the Department of Energy’s (DoE) National Nuclear Security Administration.

The project is part of a bilateral effort between the USA and Russia to make supplies of surplus weapons-grade plutonium into more proliferation-resistant forms. Converting the plutonium into MOX fuel will enable it to be used in commercial reactors. DCS, which is a contractor to the DoE, must still apply for a nuclear materials licence before it can take possession of special nuclear material and begin fabricating the MOX fuel. In reviewing that licence application, the NRC will conduct additional safety reviews.

The decision to approve the manufacturing site follows the recent NRC licence for Duke Energy that will allow it to test four MOX fuel assemblies at its Catawba nuclear plant near Rock Hill, South Carolina. These assemblies were manufactured in France using surplus American weapons-grade plutonium.

Duke filed its application in February 2003 to amend its operating licence at Catawba to allow use of the four MOX fuel assemblies.

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