The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced Monday that it has terminated the construction authorization for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF).
The MFFF was intended to process plutonium to make mixed oxide (MOX) fuel for commercial nuclear power plants. Construction on the facility started in 2007 at Savannah River in South Carolina. Construction stopped on October 10, 2018, after the Department of Energy (DOE) and National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) terminated the contract to build and operate the facility. The DOE decision came shortly after the US Court of Appeals allowed the DOE to halt construction.
CB&I Areva MOX Services requested the termination of the construction authorization on November 1 due to the termination of the DOE/NNSA contract. MOX Services had requested that termination of the construction authorization be completed within 30 days.
No radioactive material was brought onto the site prior to the end of construction. MOX Services had not yet received a license to possess and use special nuclear material. Therefore, no radioactive decommissioning activities are necessary. Due to no radioactive contamination being present, the site is immediately released for unrestricted use. No environmental assessment was deemed necessary prior to termination of the construction authorization due to the lack of radioactive material. The NRC also found that classified and safeguard information related to the facility is properly protected. MOX Services has already transferred to the DOE/NNSA.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has previously called the termination of the facility a “colossal mistake,” stating that the facility was the only viable method of safely disposing of excess plutonium. The plant was meant to meet the requirements of a 2000 agreement with Russia to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons grade plutonium.