Duke Energy has been authorised to use four mixed oxide (MOX) fuel assemblies at its Catawba plant near Rock Hill, South Carolina, by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The NRC’s safety review ensured that the plant, in using MOX fuel, will operate in within strict safety requirements.
“We found that there is reasonable assurance that use of the MOX fuel at Catawba will be safe and will comply with the commission’s regulations,” said Tad Marsh, director of NRC’s Division of Licensing Project Management. “Additional protective measures proposed by Duke will provide enhanced security for the MOX fuel assemblies, beyond the measures currently in place for the conventional uranium fuel.”
Duke filed an application in February 2003 to allow the use of MOX fuel assemblies among the 189 conventional fuel assemblies in the reactor.
The MOX fuel assemblies designed for use in the Catawba reactor were produced by combining surplus plutonium from dismantled weapons. This is the first use of MOX fuel in a commercial power reactor in support of the USA's weapons disposal programme.