The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) last week said it had published its final Safety Evaluation Report (SER) for the Mixed-Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at Savannah River.
Though it does not represent a decision to issue a license applied for by Shaw AREVA MOX Services, LLC to possess and use radioactive material at the Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C., the 578-page report essentially deems the facility’s proposed operations safe.
The final license will only be issued if the NRC verifies the applicant has properly conducted principal structures, systems, and components. That stage is expected to be several years away, the NRC said. The SER reviews the applicant’s financial qualifications, plans for protection of classified material, organization and administration, integrated safety analysis, nuclear criticality safety, fire protection, chemical safety, radiation safety, environmental protection, and plant systems.
“The report contains the staff’s conclusion that the applicant’s descriptions, specifications, commitments and analyses provide an adequate basis for safety and safeguards of facility operations and that operation of the facility would not pose an undue risk to worker and public health and safety,” the regulatory body said in a statement last week.
The NRC issued a Construction Authorization for the facility in March 2005, and construction is under way. The facility, the only MOX fuel fabrication facility being built in the U.S., is part of an agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation to dismantle thousands of Cold War-era nuclear weapons by using the plutonium from warheads to manufacture fuel for civilian nuclear power reactors. It would essentially combine plutonium and uranium oxides to make the mixed-oxide fuel.