Nukewatch Quarterly Fall 2014
The Energy Department has proposed that construction of a nuclear reactor fuel production system underway in South Carolina be postponed. The factory would use an expensive and pollution-intensive process of mixing extracted plutonium with uranium to make a reactor fuel called mixed-oxide, or MOX, for use in commercial power reactors — a scheme that involved “significant security risks,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. A UCS analysis has found that the MOX system makes it easier for terrorists to steal plutonium during processing, transport and storage at reactors than containerizing the plutonium as high-level waste.
The US and Russia have promised to dispose of some 34 tons of military plutonium, left from bomb production and dismantled nuclear weapons. The UCS and other experts recommend that the plutonium should be processed with inert material for long-term isolation. UCS is pushing Congress to officially terminate the ill-advised MOX program and pursue safer, less expensive alternatives. — JL
— Union of Concerned Scientists, Catalyst, Summer 2014