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Federal appeals court sides with DOE, lifts pro-MOX injunction

October 10, 2018

Federal appellate judges on Tuesday afternoon granted the U.S. Department of Energy’s renewed motion to lift a preliminary injunction that was protecting the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility and related construction.

“Upon review of submissions relative to the motion for stay pending appeal, the court grants the motion,” the two-paragraph, one-page order reads.

The order was filed by the court clerk at 12:05 p.m., according to court records. The order was entered at the direction of Judge Paul Niemeyer. Judges Robert King and James Wynn Jr. concurred.

The injunction, issued by U.S. District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs, had been in place since early June. The DOE’s legal team had previously and repeatedly argued the injunction was costing taxpayers $1.2 million a day.

With the injunction now stayed at the U.S. Court of Appeals level, the MOX project heads to the chopping block again.

MOX – once, or maybe if, completed at the Savannah River Site – is designed to turn 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for commercial reactors. The National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous DOE agency, oversees the MOX project.

The NNSA is a named defendant in the related lawsuit, which was launched by the state of South Carolina to battle back U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry’s attempts to derail and defund the MOX project.

On May 10, Perry exercised his congressionally given power to terminate MOX in favor of another plutonium disposition method, dilute-and-dispose. That same day, the NNSA and the U.S. Department of Defense recommended repurposing MOX infrastructure for plutonium pit production.

Plutonium pits are nuclear weapon cores.

In mid-September, NNSA chief Lisa Gordon-Hagerty wrote to U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and reaffirmed Perry’s intent to cancel MOX. Thornberry is the chairman of the HouseArmed Services Committee.

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