NNSA Completes One Year of Successful Construction at the MOX Facility in South Carolina
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today marked the one-year anniversary of the start of construction for the $4.8 billion Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility located near Aiken, South Carolina at the Savannah River Site. As the cornerstone of NNSA's plutonium disposition program, the MOX facility will support the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement between the U.S. and Russia, under which each country committed to the disposal of at least 34 metric tons of weapons grade plutonium - enough material for over 4,000 nuclear weapons.
"The work accomplished in the past year on the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility is crucial for the important role this facility will play in NNSA's nonproliferation efforts. With full support for the budget, we will continue progress in construction and ultimately make possible the elimination of weapons-usable material, which prevents proliferation and potential misuse," said Administrator Thomas D'Agostino.
Significant progress has been made since the start of construction one year ago. The heavily reinforced steel and concrete foundation of the 500,000 square foot main MOX facility building is over 80% complete with exterior and interior walls being installed throughout the first level. Almost 30,000 cubic yards of concrete (enough to fill 3,000 concrete trucks) have been placed to date. The project has begun ordering process equipment with delivery of the first nuclear processing tanks scheduled for early August 2008. Construction of several auxiliary buildings that will support operation of the main facility are complete or have started construction.
Overall, design, procurement and construction activities remain on schedule and operations are set to begin at the MOX facility in 2016, following extensive inspection and testing of the facility.
The MOX facility, along with an associated Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility and a Waste Solidification Building, will fabricate surplus weapons plutonium into MOX fuel for use in existing nuclear power plants to generate electricity and render the plutonium unusable for nuclear weapons. Disposing of surplus U.S. weapons plutonium demonstrates that the United States is living up to its nonproliferation commitments by drawing down its nuclear arsenal in a transparent and irreversible manner.
Established by Congress in 2000, the NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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