The Administration remains firmly committed to disposing of surplus weapon-grade plutonium. However, through an analysis of lifecycle costs, it has become apparent that disposing of plutonium as MOX fuel will be significantly more expensive than anticipated. Given a lifecycle cost estimate for the program of approximately $30 billion or more and a challenging budget environment, the current MOX approach must be critically examined alongside costs of other potential options to complete the plutonium disposition mission.
Today, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) released that cost analysis along with a preliminary study of the potential options, which will serve as a basis for determining the most efficient path forward for plutonium disposition. We have also determined and will communicate to the contractor, MOX Services, that we will continue with construction activities through 2014, retaining the key nuclear engineers and other highly-skilled workers that will be needed regardless of the path forward.
The NNSA intends to work with the contractor on a plan for placing the project in cold standby during FY 2015, and we are continuing our ongoing discussions with Congress as they review and evaluate the FY 2015 budget request.
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