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Press Release

NNSA Marks Two-Year Construction Milestone at MOX Facility in South Carolina
Jul 31, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today marked the second full year of successful construction of the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, South Carolina, by launching a new online multimedia kit on NNSA's website.  The kit, which includes a photo gallery that chronicles the work completed to date and video highlighting the history and importance of the MOX program, is available here.

The MOX facility will use surplus weapon-grade plutonium to make mixed oxide fuel for use in existing nuclear power plants.  The facility is an important part of the United States' efforts to make sure that plutonium can no longer be readily used for nuclear weapons purposes while simultaneously generating electricity for utility customers. 

The MOX facility helps support a current U.S. arms control commitment with Russia in which each country has committed to dispose of at least 34 metric tons of surplus weapon-grade plutonium. Under International Atomic Energy Agency accounting, 34 metric tons of plutonium is enough to make more than 4,000 nuclear weapons. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently signed a joint statement on nuclear cooperation in Moscow that reaffirmed this commitment.

"The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility is an important part of our nation's nuclear security agenda and demonstrates our resolve to meeting our arms control commitments," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "The progress made on the construction of the facility over the past two years brings us one step closer to eliminating surplus plutonium in a transparent and irreversible manner." 

Groundbreaking on the facility occurred on August 1, 2007.  In the two years since, significant progress has been made.  Overall design, procurement and construction activities are proceeding on schedule and within budget.  Eight of the seventeen auxiliary buildings needed to support construction and operation of the MOX facility have been finished, including the recently completed MOX Administration Building. At the MOX Process Building, more than 53,000 cubic yards of reinforced concrete, 50,000 cubic yards of unreinforced concrete, and 11,000 tons of rebar have been installed.  Operations are set to begin at the MOX facility in 2016.  The MOX facility will help provide a pathway out of South Carolina for the surplus plutonium brought to SRS for disposition.

In December 2008, NNSA also began construction on the nearby Waste Solidification Building, which will process liquid wastes from the MOX facility and pit disassembly operations. 

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation's national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371