The Aiken Standard filed a Freedom of Information Act request, also known as an FOIA, on Tuesday in pursuit of the Department of Energy’s recently conducted study that priced the Savannah River Site’s MOX program life cycle cost at $30 billion.
Reports surfaced in mid-February that the Department of Energy conducted a cost assessment of the U.S. Plutonium Disposition Program, including the Site’s Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility.
The study concluded that the life cycle cost of the program is $30 billion; however, the study has not yet been made available to the public or to members of Congress, who have also requested details of the study.
Specifically, the Aiken Standard is requesting the study itself, the date the study began, the parties involved in the study, the date the study was finalized and an explanation as to why the study was not released at the same time that the $30 billion figure was revealed.
The study has garnered much criticism, including reports that the $30 billion price tag is incorrect. AREVA – a partner of MOX contractor Shaw AREVA MOX Services – spoke out earlier this month and said the cost of the program is closer to $17 billion.
David Jones, AREVA senior vice president, addressed the issue at the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce breakfast on April 4.
“Approximately $4 billion has been spent to date on this facility. The cost to complete the construction for this facility is estimated at just more than $3 billion. The startup and commission cost are about $1 billion, and the cost to operate the facility over a projected 20-year life are in the order of $8 billion,” Jones said. “I add that up and that tells me that the remaining costs of this project are under $13 billion. This number is consistent with the report that was issued recently by the Government Accountability Office.”
The MOX program is part of a nonproliferation agreement with Russia to dispose of 34-metric-tons of weapons-grade plutonium. The program has undergone cost overruns and delays in the past, including the controversial DOE study.
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.