MOX Statement of Work, Termination

An aerial view of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site.

The National Nuclear Security Administration is expecting approximately one year of Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility shutdown work, according to a termination-related work plan obtained by the Aiken Standard.

"The government requires termination activities to be completed in the shortest timeframe and at minimal cost in alignment with budget availability," the lengthy, and highly detailed, statement of work reads.

"Key elements of work for termination of the MOX contract are detailed in this attachment," another part of the statement reads.

On Oct. 10, the NNSA – a semiautonomous U.S. Department of Energy agency that oversees the nation's nuclear outfit – terminated the MOX project in its entirety, effective immediately.

MOX, partially complete and located at the Savannah River Site, is designed to turn weapons-grade plutonium into commercial reactor fuel. MOX Services is the prime contractor for the imperiled project.

The contractor, according to the statement of work, "shall assume" termination activities will be completed within one year unless otherwise noted.

Activities that were to begin immediately and continue until MOX closure is complete, according to the statement, include protecting and ensuring all technical documents and records; notifying MOX project workers of applicable layoffs; and certifying the worksite remains safe and secure.

Within seven days of the termination notice – a time period now passed – MOX Services was expected to identify key personnel; turn over classified information and related security clearances; index the nuclear facility's structures and systems; and recommend workforce reduction guidelines to the NNSA and the Savannah River Site's security force.

Centerra-SRS is the current Site security contractor.

Within 14 days of the termination notice, MOX Services, among other things, is expected to provide a list of interagency agreements or relationships as well as replace locks on all supply and material storage areas.

Within 30 days, the contractor is expected to purchase and install a 7-foot fence around the area. The fence should have two truck and two personnel entryways. A mockup of the setup came with the termination notice. 

Within 120 days, the contractor should "secure" and "seal" the actual process facility, according to the statement. Sump pumps should be brought in, according to the statement, and fan ventilation should be put in place.

Within 360 days, a period just short of one year, the contractor is instructed to "perform project closure activities" in accordance with the contract, the statement continues.

Post-closure, longterm – possibly years-long – MOX worksite preservation and maintenance is expected.

The NNSA and the U.S. Department of Defense have, after all, jointly recommended repurposing MOX infrastructure for a plutonium pit production mission.

Plutonium pits are nuclear weapon cores. Both the NNSA and the DOD want to produce 50 pits a year at SRS while producing another 30 a year at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

"We have to get started on our pit mission activities," NNSA Savannah River Field Office manager Nicole Nelson-Jean said Oct. 15. "We've already made a commitment to the Department of Defense, and we want to keep, and will keep, that commitment."

The work scope described in the NNSA document is subject to change. MOX Services is welcome to recommend government-advantageous adjustments to schedule, approach, and scope, according to the statement of work.

A full termination plan from MOX Services is due by early November.

Colin Demarest is the government and Savannah River Site reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin