Skip to comments.Higher MOX Fuel Concentration Weighed for U.S. Reactors
Posted on 04/12/2011 5:44:11 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
Higher MOX Fuel Concentration Weighed for U.S. Reactors
Monday, April 11, 2011
The federal Tennessee Valley Authority and Energy Department have conducted talks on potentially substituting mixed-oxide fuel derived from nuclear-weapon material for one-third of the low-enriched uranium in several U.S. power reactors, a substantially higher proportion of MOX fuel than a crippled Japanese nuclear plant had used, the New York Times reported on Sunday (see GSN, April 5).
Any TVA move on the proposal has been put off pending a review of the behavior of MOX fuel at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was severely damaged last month by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami (see related GSN story, today). The federal investigation would address the extent to which the MOX fuel -- which comprised 6 percent of the material in the Japanese facility's No. 3 reactor -- has heated and broken down since the March disasters.
We are studying the ongoing events in Japan very closely, TVA spokesman Ray Golden said.
The Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, a site under construction at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, would convert 34 metric tons of excess weapons plutonium to nuclear power plant fuel, according to an earlier report. The facility's expense has reached almost $5 billion since the government signed a contract for its creation, and no entity has officially stepped forward to buy the fuel.
A nuclear regulatory board this month called for new testimony on measures to manage and protect the plutonium the facility would house, noting "significant public safety and national security issues" (see GSN, April 4).
Some experts contend MOX fuel poses a greater risk of dangerous incidents than other nuclear fuel, but the administration has defended the material's safety profile.
(Excerpt) Read more at globalsecuritynewswire.org ...