MOX stands for “Mixed-Oxide Fuel.” It is a nuclear power reactor fuel made from plutonium mixed with uranium. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) wants to make experimental MOX fuel using plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons.
Use of MOX fuel fails as a means of getting rid of plutonium. Instead, the plutonium just becomes part of the lethal soup of ingredients termed “high-level nuclear waste”
What is MOX? http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/basicmoxinfo.htm The giant French nuclear firm Cogema, Duke Power and Virginia Power have formed a consortium to create and use plutonium MOX fuel in civilian atomic reactors in North and South Carolina and Virginia.
If their effort is successful, plutonium would be trucked from nuclear weapons depots in the west to the Savannah River Plant on the South Carolina/Georgia border, where new plutonium processing plants would be built. This new MOX fuel would then be trucked to commercial reactors in the Southeast, in order to turn this plutonium into high-level radioactive waste.
The MOX program is dangerous and unnecessary. More than 200 environmental and other organizations across the world have signed an International NIX MOX statement and have pledged to work to stop this program in the U.S. and similar programs in Russia, France and England. Read more »
MOX or not? Gov’t likes weapons fuel, public doesn’t Equities.com, By Eric Fleischauer, The Decatur Daily, Ala. McClatchy-Tribune Information Services Sept. 14--The Energy Department believes it is safe to use weapons-grade fuel at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, but not many residents attending a public hearing Thursday agreed.
“They don’t need to have it here,” said Sara Crossfield of Athens, who has a farm near the Limestone County plant. “TVA’s charter requires them to protect us.”
U.S. treaties with Russia require the disposal of 50 tons of surplus plutonium. The treaties authorize disposal by recycling the weapons-grade plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel, or MOX, for use in nuclear reactors. MOX is a mixture of plutonium and low-enriched
The purpose of Thursday’s public hearing was to receive comments on a draft document describing the environmental impact of using MOX. About 60 people attended.
While MOX is the Energy Department’s preferred alternative for most of the surplus plutonium, the Tennessee Valley Authority said it has no preference. Sachiko McAlhany, document manager for the U.S. Department of Energy, presented a summary of the environmental impact statement. She said the department concluded using MOX “does not appreciably change” the risk posed by conventional uranium fuel.
Neither McAlhany nor a TVA representative, Mick Mastilovic, answered questions at the hearing. The comments from the public will be incorporated into the final environmental impact statement, scheduled for a spring 2013 release.
The plutonium would be reprocessed into MOX at a $6 billion plant in South Carolina, operated by France-based AREVA. It would then have to be transported to Browns Ferry.
Many of the concerns expressed by those attending the hearing involved the cost of creating MOX and the risks involved in transport. Read more »
Problem plagued nuclear reactor called world’s most dangerous via ABC News, The Atomic Age, May 2012 http://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/atomicage/2012/09/10/problem-plagued-nuclear-reactor-called-worlds-most-dangerous-via-abc-news/
Japan’s Monju nuclear reactor was supposed to be a model of power generation in the future, but it’s had many problems and in two decades it’s only generated one hour’s worth of electricity.
EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: It’s supposed to be the future of nuclear power generation, a reactor that produces its own fuel in a self-sustaining cycle. Known as Monju, the reactor on the country’s west coast is held up as the saviour of a nation without energy resources. But Monju has been plagued with problems and many call it the most dangerous reactor in the world. In part two of his series on Japan’s so-called nuclear alley, North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy was given an exclusive look inside Monju.
MARK WILLACY, REPORTER: People frolic in its shadow, a reactor its critics call the most dangerous in Japan. The name Monju comes from one of Buddha’s chief attendants, a purveyor of enlightenment depicted resting on the back of a lion, a beast whose phenomenal powers are controlled only by Monju’s wisdom.
But opponents of this prototype reactor fear its operators do not have the wisdom to harness its enormous energy.
KEIJI KOBAYASHI, FAST-BREEDER REACTOR EXPERT (voiceover translation): If a meltdown happens, it will get out of control very quickly. If the reactor core was to melt, the explosive energy would produce a blast like a nuclear bomb.
FUKIKO IKEJIMA, ‘STOP MONJU’ GROUP (voiceover translation): If a big accident were to happen, the impact would not stop in Japan, but spread around the world. It is our most dangerous reactor.
MARK WILLACY: And this is one of the reasons many Japanese fear Monju, because it uses sodium to cool a reactor, the substance that can ignite upon contact with oxygen. In 1995, a sodium leak at Monju caused a serious fire, one that resulted in the plant being out of operation for 15 years.
Lateline was given an exclusive tour of Monju, including an interview with the plant’s director-general, Satoru Kondo.
Continue reading at Problem plagued nuclear reactor called world’s most dangerous
DUKE POWERS PLAN TO USE BOMB-PLUTONIUM FUEL CONCEALS HIDDEN DANGERS AND COSTS Steven Dolley Nuclear Control Institute October 18, 2000
“….MOX fuel poses a grave safety threat. Dr. Edwin Lyman, NCI Scientific Director, conducted a MOX fuel safety study using the same computer codes employed by DOE and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Dr. Lymans study concluded that, in the event of a severe accident resulting in a large radioactive release, an average of 25% more people would die of cancer if the reactor were using a partial core of plutonium-MOX fuel, as opposed to a full core of conventional uranium fuel. DOE itself has concurred with many of Dr. Lymans findings.
Dr. Lyman also found that the impact of MOX fuel on certain reactor characteristics might also increase the chance that such a severe accident would occur. DOE and Duke dismiss such accidents as extremely improbable—but it must be remembered that the accidents that took place at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the Tokai nuclear-fuel plant in Japan last September all had been similarly dismissed as highly unlikely or even impossible events.
- MOX fuel exposes Duke to potentially enormous future costs. Read more »
Pete Wilkinson, an independent environmental consultant, said it “beggared belief” that ministers were going down this path after losing an estimated £600m from operating an original MOX plant.
“It would be interesting to see the commercial arrangements which justify turning Britain into a nuclear waste dump for plutonium that no-one else wants.”
UK nuclear authority takes ownership of German plutonium UK risks becoming a ‘nuclear laundry’ looking after unwanted waste from other countries, warns industry expert Terry Macalister guardian.co.uk, 13 July 2012 Britain risks being turned into a “nuclear laundry” by taking ownership of German plutonium in return for cash, the government was warned on Friday.
The move came along with confirmation that ministers were moving towards a controversial decision to build a new mixed oxide fuel (MOX) plant despite having just agreed to close an existing one which lost millions of pounds. Read more »
The amount of spent fuel stored at power stations has continued to surge, standing at around 14,200 tons across 17 facilities as of last September, including the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd.’s storage facilities are already almost full and contained a total of 2,800 tons as of February, while several power stations are expected to reach maximum capacity over the next three years if their currently idled reactors are restarted, industry
Policy of recycling all spent nuclear fuel may be axed, Japan Times, 22 June 12, Kyodo, Jiji The Japan Atomic Energy Commission has proposed both reprocessing and directly disposing of spent nuclear fuel if Japan’s atomic energy reliance is cut to 15 percent, a departure from the current policy of total reprocessing…
.. The changed tack comes as massive amounts of spent fuel are accumulating at nuclear plants nationwide and as decades-long efforts to activate reprocessing facilities remain mired in technical difficulties, sources said. Read more »
Experts urge Britain to bury plutonium rather than recycling
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120510p2g00m0in010000c.html 10 May 12, WASHINGTON (Kyodo) — Four U.S. nuclear experts urged Britain to bury plutonium rather than recycling for fuel for nuclear reactors as it is more cost-effective, according to the British science journal Nature’s Thursday edition.
Citing an estimate in 2000 that recycling plutonium from spent fuel to make mixed oxide fuel adds $750 million each year to the cost of electric power generation in France, the four said, ”Britain should seriously evaluate the less costly and less risky method of direct plutonium disposal, and take the opportunity to lead the world towards a better solution for reducing stockpiles.” Read more »
Fast-breeder said realistic no more, Japan Times, 25 Feb 12, Kyodo A panel of experts reviewing the nuclear fuel cycle policy in light of the Fukushima crisis has agreed that while a fast-breeder reactor has advantages, from a technology viewpoint it can’t be considered a realistic option for the next 20 to 30 years. The nuclear fuel policy involves reprocessing spent fuel to produce plutonium that can be reused to produce electricity.
The subcommittee of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission said in a draft document summarizing its discussions that two viable options during the next few decades would be to not reprocess spent nuclear fuel, and to recycle plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel, or MOX fuel.
The former option is called the “once-through” cycle, in which uranium fuel is used in nuclear reactors just one time and disposed of by burying it in the ground. In the latter option, MOX fuel is manufactured from plutonium recovered from spent nuclear fuel and used in ordinary reactors. Read more »
“No currently available or reasonably foreseeable reactor and fuel cycle technology developments — including advances in reprocess and recycle technologies — have the potential to fundamentally alter the waste management challenge this nation confronts over at least the next several decades, if not longer,’’ the report said…..
A Long, Long Road to Recycling Nuclear Fuel, NYT, By MATTHEW L. WALD, 15 Nov 11, The question of what to do with spent nuclear fuel from civilian power reactors has stirred renewed interest in reprocessing — that is, chopping up the fuel, retrieving materials that can power a reactor and possibly recovering the most troublesome waste products so they can be broken up in the reactor into easier-to-handle elements.
But the Energy Department, which is supposed to is evaluate different ways that the used fuel could be recycled, has a long way to go, according to the Government Accountability Office. In a report released on Wednesday, the auditors noted that the Department of Energy had listed a huge number of potential ways to do the job and classified the methods according to the degree of promise that each held. Still, the department’s evaluation does not indicate the state
of technical progress for the many technologies that would be needed, the report said. Read more »
The Bomb Plant: A MOX White Elephant?, DC Bureau By Joseph Trento, on October 20th, 2011 The National Nuclear Security Administration may have a $10 billion taxpayer-financed white elephant on its hands based on Britain’s experience with a similar plant that has been shuttered after a decade of failed operations.
NNSA is building a French-designed plant to convert plutonium warheads into mixed oxide (MOX) reactor fuel at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina. The United States’ MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility is over budget – already double the estimated costs – behind schedule and still has no commercial customers for the fuel. But the DOE is pushing ahead with construction at a time when international nuclear utilities are shuttering their failed MOX programs. Read more »
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