Tom Clements MOX Plutonium briefing 6.29.2012
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Tom Clements MOX Plutonium briefing 6.29.2012

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MOX Plutonium nuclear fuel presentation by Tom Clements of Alliance for Nuclear Accountability at KNOW NUKES Y"ALL SUMMIT on June 29, 2012.

MOX Plutonium nuclear fuel presentation by Tom Clements of Alliance for Nuclear Accountability at KNOW NUKES Y"ALL SUMMIT on June 29, 2012.

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  • 1. Time to Reconsider NNSA’sPlutonium Fuel (MOX) Program Tom Clements Nonproliferation Policy Director Alliance for Nuclear Accountability http://www.ananuclear.org/ tel. 803-834-3084 tclements@ananuclear.org
  • 2. Admirable Goal: Dispose of 34 MT of surplus weapons plutonium – MOX chosen over disposition as waste
  • 3. L-Reactor at Savannah River Site, 1954-1988, plutonium and tritium for nuclear weapons
  • 4. Why is the MOX program failing? Where did it go wrong? Continual delays since inception in mid-1990s Costs out of control and growing $5+ billion spent, perhaps $20 billion to go – NNSA refuses to give estimates No reactors secured to use MOX – no decision by TVA MOX is hotter, makes reactor harder to control, storage problems As weapons-grade MOX has never been used before, MOX testing in reactors will cause more delays Operating license of MOX plant being challenged before NRC Start-up of the MOX plant could be problematic; no operational schedule for MOX plant Unknown what MOX fuel would be produced first –
  • 5. MOX Problems, continued “MOX Services turnover rate increased from 15% in FY 2010 to 24% in FY 2011 with the result that the project has experienced a nearly complete turnover of construction management personnel in the last year. Finding experienced replacements has become difficult and expensive.” Part of DOE pattern for mismanagement, cost overruns for large projects – price tag is unknown Continues to pose proliferation risks by establishing plutonium infrastructure and introducing plutonium into commerce Has become jobs program for South Carolina Options exists to manage plutonium and must be analyzed before more money is wasted, but NNSA is failing to develop a “Plan B”
  • 6. Proposed MOX reactors by Tennessee Valley Authority Browns Ferry – Athens, AL GE Mark I Boiling Water Sequoyah – Chattanooga, TNReactor – Fukushima design Pressurized Water Reactor
  • 7. Energy NorthwestColumbia Generating Station – Richland, WA GE Mark II BWR
  • 8. Plutonium Fuel (MOX) Plant at the DOE’s Savannah River Site –under construction by Shaw AREVA MOX Services
  • 9. Past NNSA budget requests for MOX plant – challenges from the startFY2002: “…include the FY 2003 construction start, FY 2006 construction plant start-up, and FY 2007 full-scale operations start date (to meet the irradiation start date).“Now: unspecified production start-up in 2018FY2004: “The overall estimated cost for the MOX FFF is $1,622 M Total Estimated Cost (TEC). This amount includes the MOX FFF design budget ($171 M). The construction costs are estimated to be $1,451 M (including contingency).”Now: $4.8 billion with no public update in years
  • 10. Plutonium Disposition Funding, FY13FY 13 budget request from NNSA MOX plant construction $389 million Other plutonium disposition $499 millionTotal $888 millionHouse Approps $748 million($132 million cut in committee, $17 million cut by full House)Senate Approps $888 million
  • 11. HOUSE ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2013 - REPORTMOX plant cost increase from $4.8 to $5.4 billion or$5.7 billion? NNSA refuses to release new costestimate.“Construction continues to slip behind schedule dueto unanticipated complexity of the work, poorcontractor performance, delays in procurements, andthe inclusion of additional work scope. TheDepartment is now reporting internally that the totalproject costs could be understated by as much as$600,000,000 to $900,000,000, and that the projectwill overrun its projected completion date by months ifnot years.”
  • 12. HOUSE ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2013 - REPORT“However, due to the rampant cost growth that hasbeen reported to construct and operate the MOXfacility, the remaining funding available within thisaccount is highly constrained and the amount hasbeen reduced from the request. If the NNSA isunable to contain the escalating costs of theongoing MOX project, funding for other priorities,such as the uranium enrichment project, will beseverely limited.Similarly, the Committee will consider whetheradditional steps, including legislation, are necessaryto protect the taxpayers’ investments in this program.”
  • 13. SENATE ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2013 - Report―Estimated operating costs have grown from$156,000,000 a year in fiscal year 2011 to$356,000,000 a year in fiscal year 2012 and noware estimated at $499,000,000 a year—an increaseof more than 200 percent in just 2 years.‖―The Committee is also concerned about testingneeded to use fuel made from weapons-gradeplutonium for boiling water reactors. Testing maysignificantly increase costs and it is not clearwhether the Nuclear Regulatory Commission[NRC] has sufficient resources to evaluate thetesting data to make a determination about thesafe use of this fuel.‖
  • 14. NNSA FY2013 request: FY 2014‐FY 2017: $3,591,260,000 to be requested for plutonium disposition‖ –$900 million/year into the future-- Impact on defense nuclear nonproliferation funding --
  • 15. GAO Report on MOX Plant Costs not EnoughWhy has Congress given the MOX program a blank check?HOUSE ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2013 – report requirement:Department of Energy/Nonproliferation ... “Comptroller General review of MOX facility cost estimates”In-depth review of plutonium disposition needed, including a review on non-MOX
  • 16. DeterminationFlexible Manufacturing Capability forthe Mixed Fuel Fabrication Facility(MFFF) “ April 1, 2011 - http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/EIS-0283-S2- IAD-2011.pdf DOE seeking more reactors beyond TVA, Energy Northwest “DOE proposes to modify the MFFF design to allow the flexibility necessary to manufacture fuel for a variety of reactor designs. The modifications would provide the MFFF with the capability to produce fuel for boiling water reactors (BWR) and next-generation light water reactors, in addition to the current capability for manufacture of pressurized water reactor (PWR) fuel.”
  • 17. MOX costs – $20 billion yet to be spent? Remaining MOX plant construction – about $3 billion MOX plant operating costs - $499 million/year x 20 years = $10 billion Payment to utilities to modify reactors, use MOX, store hotter irradiated MOX fuel for longer period Support facilities, such as Waste Treatment Building Administrative costs Delays, contingencies, accidents Decontamination and decommissioning
  • 18. MOX testing by TVA: AREVA trying toavoid testing as it would lead to delays and cost increases MOX made from weapons-grade plutonium is a “new fuel form” which must be tested in reactors, but AREVA and NNSA are trying to avoid this given schedule and cost impacts Tony Ulses, branch chief of NRC’s reactor systems branch, said AREVA “has a steep curve ahead” to demonstrate to staff that MOX fuel made from weapons-grade plutonium can be licensed for use in US power reactors without testing “In response to your question to DOE and MOX Services, the decision whether or not to perform additional testing of MOX fuel assemblies will be evaluated and determined by reactor licensees and the NRC, and not by NNSA or its contractors. At this time, the determination whether additional LTAs are required for licensing BWR MOX fuel has not been made.” (message to me, Feb. 15)
  • 19. MOX ―lead test assemblies‖- showstopper? MOX test in a PWR by Duke Energy from 2005-2008 was terminated early and only tested for two 18- month cycles and not the normal three No test of weapons-grade MOX has ever been done in a BWR (Browns Ferry) Test in Browns Ferry could only be done after MOX plant at SRS produces the test assemblies, starting in 2018 at the earliest Testing in Browns Ferry could take 6 years, plus cool- down, post irradiation examination = ~10 years Browns Ferry 60-year licenses end in 2033, 2034, 2036 Need to repeat PWR test in Sequoyah? Thus, required MOX testing will cause severe delays and increase costs far beyond current projections
  • 20. Breeder reactors can produce weapons-grade plutonium, thus the U.S. is helping Russia’s ability to have capability to produce more plutonium“Provide technical support to the DOE in meeting U.S. obligations to support disposition of weapon‐grade plutonium in Russia.Provide U.S. technical oversight of work in Russia associated withthe disposition of surplus Russian weapon‐grade plutonium in the BN‐ 600 and BN‐800 fast reactors and support theimplementation of IAEA verification activities in both the U.S. and Russia.” - from NNSA FY13 request
  • 21. Time to halt MOX and explore otherdisposition options Since the program’s inception in the mid-1990s, not a single gram of plutonium has been disposed of beyond test amounts Congress has not conducted sufficient oversight, allowing program to spin out of control Situation could worsen with no reactors able to use MOX and costs increasing, time to pull back is now Non-MOX options, such as immobilization of plutonium in high-level waste must be reexamined Comprehensive GAO study needed NNSA must be directed to develop cheaper, quicker, safer options
  • 22. Supplemental EIS Coming Soon,“Cut MOX” letter to Sen. Alexander The Supplemental EIS on plutonium disposition will be released before the end of July. It will analyze use of MOX in TVA reactors, as well as disposal of some contaminated plutonium as waste. In 2010, SEIS meetings were held in Athens, AL, Chattanooga, TN, Augusta, GA and New Mexico and we expect there will be hearings in the same places in August. Please stay tuned and attend the SEIS meetings and make comments! Comment at TVA Board meeting – August 14, Chattanooga. (August 13 listening session…?) Send the ―cut MOX‖ letter to Senator Alexander!
  • 23. Tom Clements Nonproliferation Policy DirectorAlliance for Nuclear Accountability http://www.ananuclear.org/ tel. 803-834-3084 cell 803-240-7268 tomclements329@cs.com