Supreme Court Stymies MOX Facility Reboot

The U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday that it would not consider arguments concerning completion of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River site, which the state of South Carolina had been pushing.

MOX Facility constructionnThe Department of Energy canceled the project a year ago after spending $8 billion on the project in a two-decade effort to build the facility that was fraught with delays and cost overruns.

It is the second legal defeat for the state this year. In August, a federal court ruled that the federal government did not owe the state $200 million in fines that the state claimed it was owed for the federal government’s failure to move toxic weapons-grade plutonium from the site. The state cited a federal law that allowed it to levy fines for long-term storage of radioactive material.

In Tuesday’s court action, the Supreme Court justices dismissed the case without comment. Two decades after work had begun on the plant, it was still far from finished despite the expensive price tag. Funding for the project was left out of President Barack Obama’s 2016 federal budget.

The fate of the plutonium on the site is currently murky.  In January, the Department of Energy said it moved a half-ton of plutonium off the site, shipping it to Nevada. Then, in August, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said a ton of plutonium – out of 24,250 pounds on site – had been shipped out of state. According to The Washington Post, it was not disclosed where the other half-ton of plutonium was shipped.

In a related legal case, Nevada’s efforts to stop shipments of plutonium to a storage site close to Las Vegas was rebuffed by a federal appeals court in August.

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  • Anonymous

    MOX is an expensive waste of time. Burn used fuel in fast-neutron reactors, preferably chloride salt MSRs.