Facility Will Dispose of Enough Material for 8,500 Nuclear Weapons
AIKEN, SC - The U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) initiated construction today on the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina. The facility will convert at least 34 metric tons (about 75,000 pounds) of surplus U.S. weapons grade plutonium, which helps to carry out a 2000 nonproliferation agreement between the United States and Russia. Under the agreement, the United States and Russia each committed to dispose of 34 metric tons (68 metric tons total) of surplus weapons grade plutonium - enough material for approximately 17,000 nuclear weapons.
"The start of construction of the U.S. MOX facility helps us fulfill an international nonproliferation agreement and marks a major step forward in our efforts with Russia to dispose of surplus weapon-grade plutonium so that it can never be used again for nuclear weapons," said NNSA's Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation William Tobey.
The new facility, to be constructed by NNSA's contractor Shaw AREVA MOX Services, will be used to fabricate the surplus plutonium into MOX fuel. The fuel will be used in commercial nuclear reactors in North Carolina and South Carolina – roughly generating enough electricity for one million households for 50 years.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce 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 United States and abroad.
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