Russia is reportedly moving forward with its part of the international MOX agreement while the fate of the United States’ current MOX facility at the Savannah River Site hangs in the balance.
According to an article on the World Nuclear News website, Russia’s MOX program just sent the first batches of 56 MOX fuel assemblies to Beloyarsk 4, one of the country’s nuclear plants. The assemblies, were produced at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors.
The institute has produced 106 MOX assemblies so far and is expecting to ship a second batch by the end of the month. It’s MOX fuel fabrication plant produces a MOX fuel made from a mixture of granulated uranium and plutonium oxides with uranium powder, binding oxygen and other gases added during the agitation process.
Once the MOX fuel has been shipped, Russia is planning to use fast reactors – reactors in which the chain reaction is sustained by fast neutrons – to dispose of the weapons-grade plutonium and honor the agreement between the two countries.
In a media phone conference earlier this week, the National Nuclear Security Administration mentioned that fast reactors could be a way to go if DOE decides to pull the plug on the MOX facility. But at this point, nothing has been decided.
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @ DerrekAsberry.