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SRNS finalizes transition plans for MOX facility and resources, NNSA says

January 3, 2019

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions has completed and submitted plans regarding the transition and turnover of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility as well as the venture’s related equipment, materials, property and data, among other things.

SRNS, the Savannah River Site management and operations contractor, transmitted the plans to the National Nuclear Security Administration on Dec. 21, according to a senior NNSA spokesperson who issued a lengthy statement on the matter that same day.

The NNSA, a semiautonomous U.S. Department of Energy agency, oversees the MOX project. The agency canceled MOX in full, effective immediately, on Oct. 10, 2018.

The transition plan – to be reviewed and approved – is part of the MOX closeout process. The mothballing efforts were described as an “ongoing wind down” in a preface to the NNSA statement.

MOX, located at the site, was designed to turn surplus weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors. The project was more than a decade in the making and was killed after years of political, financial and legal turmoil.

Five months before the MOX contract was canceled, the NNSA and U.S. Department of Defense jointly recommended repurposing MOX’s bones for an enduring plutonium pit production mission.

Plutonium pits are grapefruit-sized nuclear weapon cores.

SRNS’s plans include a transition timeline with “future use” in mind, according to the NNSA spokesperson.

About one year of total MOX termination work is expected, according to an NNSA statement of work, which the Aiken Standard obtained late last year.

“The government requires termination activities to be completed in the shortest time frame and at minimal cost in alignment with budget availability,” the lengthy, and highly detailed, statement of work reads.

The NNSA is working closely with SRNS and MOX Services, the MOX prime contractor, to “ensure an orderly and efficient transition,” the spokesperson said.

MOX employed about 1,700 people at the time of termination; more than 1,000 have now received layoff notices.

Two more rounds of layoff notifications are to be issued by the end of January, according to a person familiar with the matter and project communications obtained by the Aiken Standard.

SRNS spokespeople would not comment further on the plans when asked Wednesday.

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