Ground broken on  key portion of MOX facility

Staff photo by Mike Gellatly

The second construction in the plutonium disposition complex at SRS broke ground Friday and was proclaimed "the cornerstone ... of a new nuclear age." Project workers and dignitaries spoke before the first shovels of dirt were turned over on the $345 million facility. Ken Chacey, director of site engineering and construction management for the National Nuclear Security Administration, said the event was "a huge event for America" as a move toward energy independence. The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MOX) will turn weapons-grade plutonium into fuel assemblies in use in commercial nuclear reactors. The new facility is the Waste Solidification Building (WSB), which will process low-level and transuranic liquid waste streams from MOX and pit disassembly operations. "This facility will be a cornerstone in America for a new nuclear age," said Rep. Paul Broun. "This begins the second step in safely disposing of our legacy plutonium," said Chuck Munns, president and CEO of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions LLC, the managing and operating contractor at SRS. "This is a relatively small facility by design, but it's essential to the successful operation of (MOX) and pit disassembly operations. The WSB allows us to safely and efficiently dispose of waste without adding to SRS's waste system." The MOX is well under way, with construction having begun in August 2007. In the WSB, material classified as transuranic (TRU) waste will be packaged and sent to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. Low-level waste will be packaged and sent to disposal facilities either at SRS or off site. The WSB will occupy about nine acres adjacent to the MOX site in F Area, near the center of SRS.