Nuclear Watch South filed proposed legal findings as evidence in its case against the MOX Project, maintaining that MOX's technological methods of accounting for its plutonium supply are unsafe and should be handled in a more hands-on fashion.
The citizens' group is based out of Atlanta, and filed these findings with the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The group is challenging MOX's plans for plutonium control and accounting and is deeming those plans as “inadequate“ in its findings, which were filed following a second round of closed hearings at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Headquarters in May.
MOX's plutonium fuel factory is located at the Savannah River Site and serves as a major factor in the national program to dispose of nuclear weapons-grade plutonium. Once completed, its primary mission will be to convert 50 tons of weapons-grade plutonium into a new type of reactor fuel that would serve a more beneficial purpose.
Nuclear Watch South is working in conjunction with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, the Nuclear Information Resource Service and expert witness Dr. Edwin S. Lyman, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists. The trio is leaning on the testimony of Lyman in their lawsuit and Lyman's belief that MOX's planned plutonium accounting methods are flawed.
Lyman has further stated that plutonium theft chances could increase rather than decrease if MOX's factory is licensed to work without changes to material control and accounting plans. One of the primary concerns that the groups have voiced is MOX's decision to use computer programs to track inventory and keep an account of plutonium.
“In order to detect and deter theft and diversion of plutonium, NRC regulations require MOX Services to demonstrate it can verify the presence and integrity of all plutonium items in the MOX Facility,” Lyman stated. “But given the vulnerability of computer systems to manipulation by adversaries, this data can be corrupted. There is no substitute for direct physical checks.”
Lyman, and the rest of the prosecuting parties, have furthered their argument by stating that the computer programs MOX is using for accounting do not safely prevent cyber attacks.
“Although the Joint Chiefs of Staff have identified cyber attack as one of the most serious threats to U.S. security,” said Diane Curran, the group's attorney, “the NRC does not have any regulations for protection of facilities like the MOX factory from cyber attack.”
A spokesperson with MOX Services said he could not comment on pending legal matters.
Currently, MOX, as well as Nuclear Watch South, are waiting on a ruling from the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. As of now, there is not an official ruling date schedule.
Nuclear Watch South, headquartered in Atlanta, has legally opposed MOX licensing since 2001.
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