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Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - 11:24am

Redesign Proposed For MOX Plant

Updated: 3 years ago.
Construction of the estimated $5 billion MOX plant at Savannah River Site is about a third of the way complete. Officials with the U.S. Department of Energy now want to redesign the facillity to accomidate potential customers. (Image courtesy AREVA MOX Services)

The U.S. Department of Energy is considering changes to a nuclear weapons recycling facility under construction near Augusta.

The mixed oxide, or MOX, plant is at the Savannah River Site. It's designed to turn nuclear weapons into fuel for commercial power plants.

But the experimental fuel has never been used in any U.S. reactors and the DOE has yet to sign up clients willing to try.

Under the proposed redesign, the plant could make fuel for a broader spectrum of reactors.

Officials say that could attract customers.

Tom Clements is with environmental group Friends of the Earth:

"To me this shows that they’re kind of in a desperate mode to try to rope in any utilities with nuclear reactors," says Clements. "It doesn’t look like they’re having any success at all so there really needs to be a deeper examination of the goal and purpose and overall cost of this project."

The Tennessee Valley Authority is one of the only utilities considering using the MOX.

But company officials now say they won’t make a decision until they can study the impacts of Japan’s nuclear crisis.

One of the troubled Fukushima reactors was loaded with MOX fuel.

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