Efforts to consolidate the nation's plutonium and bring large amounts for storage at the Savannah River Site are ahead of schedule, the Department of Energy has revealed. Shipments of weapons-grade plutonium from the Hanford site in Washington have been coming to SRS since fall 2007 as part of the Plutonium Consolidation Project. "We are trying to complete the 3013's by the end of June," said Jim Giusti, DOE public affairs officer. "There is still some unirradiated fuel rods; they won't come until the end of September. The plutonium in the 3013 containers is ahead of schedule. The remainder is on schedule." A 3013 is a container meant to ensure the safe packaging and storage of plutonium metals and stabilized plutonium oxides for up to 50 years. The consolidation involves plutonium - some mixed with highly enriched uranium - that was produced decades ago for use in nuclear weapons but is no longer needed, along with a small amount of plutonium in fuel rods from a closed government reactor. DOE has never revealed how much plutonium was to be shipped, stating that this was classified information. The plutonium has been stored in a vault at the Plutonium Finishing Plant at Hanford under armed guard. However, having weapons-grade material on site increases security costs for that facility. The Governmental Accountability Office told Congress in 2007 that if the canisters of plutonium remain at Hanford, security improvements through 2018 that were required after the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks would cost $831 million. When shipments began, DOE said that the intent was not only to bring the plutonium to SRS but to dispose of it at the site and then have pathways for all of this material to leave the state, according to then Assistant Energy Secretary James Rispoli. Department officials acknowledged that it will likely take more than a decade - and possibly longer - before much of the plutonium will be processed and moved elsewhere. The plan calls for the plutonium to be either converted into a mixed-oxide fuel, or MOX, for use at commercial nuclear power plants or be encased in glass logs for eventual transfer to the Yucca Mountain high-level nuclear waste repository being planned in Nevada.