Environment News Service

AmeriScan: January 28, 2000


WASHINGTON, DC, January 28, 2000 (ENS) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued its draft plan for the review of a planned mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility at its Savannah River site in South Carolina. The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that it plans to construct a MOX fuel plant at Savannah River through a contract with the consortium of Duke Engineering & Services, COGEMA Inc., and Stone & Webster (known as DCS). DCS would build a MOX facility to convert surplus weapons grade plutonium from the DOE into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors. Commercial nuclear power plants in the U.S. now use uranium as fuel. The mixed oxide fuel would be a combination of uranium and plutonium. Some environmentalists and nuclear activists have expressed concerns over the use of MOX fuel. Many believe it is too dangerous to burn MOX in commercial reactors that were not designed to use such fuel.

Under NRC regulations, DCS must obtain NRC's approval before beginning construction. NRC must decide if there is reasonable assurance that the MOX fuel plant will be constructed and operated in a manner that provides reasonable protection of worker health and safety, the public and the environment. The draft Standard Review Plan defines the criteria that NRC would use in reviewing the DCS application once it is submitted.

The NRC’s draft plan is available at: http://www.nrc.gov/NRC/NUREGS/SR1718/index.html. Public comments will be accepted until March 13 at the same website.

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