Critics: MOX Site Construction Might Cost $2 Billion More

The Energy Department might have quietly added $2 billion to a revised estimate for constructing a mixed-oxide facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, an increase of more than 40 percent from its most recent public projection, 40 activist organizations indicated this week in a statement reported on Thursday by the Augusta Chronicle.

The comments urge the department to issue new expense projections for building and running the site, which is intended to convert 34 metric tons of nuclear-weapon plutonium into mixed-oxide atomic power plant fuel. Construction has been under way since 2006 and is scheduled to continue for four more years; conversion of one-time warhead material into reactor fuel is slated to start at the facility in 2018.

An unreleased DOE estimate indicates that completing the site could require $6.8 billion, rather than $4.8 billion as stated previously, the groups warned, referring to a Sept. 26 Weapons Complex Monitor report on the price hike.

“The MOX plant cost estimate has been frozen at $4.8 billion for the last several years,” they told the department, which had requested comments on an updated assessment of the planned facility's effects on the surrounding area. “Despite repeated requests from public interest groups, DOE has adamantly refused for all of 2012 to release this new cost estimate for either the MOX plant construction or overall plutonium disposition program and is keeping this vital information secret.”

A formal DOE response to statements provided by this week's deadline is expected next year.

October 12, 2012
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The Energy Department might have quietly added $2 billion to a revised estimate for constructing a mixed-oxide facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, an increase of more than 40 percent from its most recent public projection, 40 activist organizations indicated this week in a statement reported on Thursday by the Augusta Chronicle.

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