U.S. Rep. Rick Allen ‘absolutely’ backs MOX rework for pit production mission

March 22, 2019

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen believes repurposing the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility for a plutonium pit production mission is the right move.

Asked Thursday morning by the Aiken Standard if he supported the prospective MOX-to-pits switch, the Georgia Republican said, “Absolutely.”

“Well obviously New Mexico can’t handle what is required, OK, so it’s got to go somewhere. And everything we’re hearing is, ‘This is the place, this is the place it needs to go,’” Allen said of the Savannah River Site.

At least 80 plutonium pits – nuclear weapon cores – are needed per year by 2030, according to the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. The demand is part of a larger stockpile modernization undertaking.

On May 10, 2018, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Defense jointly recommended producing plutonium pits at both SRS and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Fifty pits per year would be made at SRS – at a recapitalized MOX – and 30 pits per year would be made at an upgraded Los Alamos, per the recommendation.

The NNSA terminated the MOX project on Oct. 10, 2018. Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, the SRS management and operations contractor, has since been tasked with and funded for MOX closeout and transition work, according to the NNSA.

Allen on Thursday described SRS as a “big deal” for the area, adding that he keeps an eye on funding for the site. Allen said he works “closely” with U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.

“So Joe and I are very involved,” the congressman said.

Wilson, who represents South Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District, also supports a pit production buildout. Wilson was a longtime fan of MOX.

“With our nuclear inventory starting to age,” Wilson said March 12, “I join fellow South Carolinians in applauding the Trump administration and the commitment to expand the pit production mission.”