Nuclear Alliance Request Congress Cut Funding to MOX Reactor Project in United States

Edited by Tony Rutherford from Multiple Reports
Nuclear Alliance Request Congress Cut Funding to MOX Reactor Project in United States

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability has recommended that Congress either pull the plug or re-examine nine projects labeled as the Department of Energy’s Most Dangerous Budget Busting Projects.  Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security (PRESS) is a member of ANA.

A nationwide network of organizations working to address nuclear weapons production and nuclear waste clean up issues, ANA characterizes these programs as characterized by runaway costs and unacceptably high risks in terms of public health, safety, the environment and nuclear proliferation.

Current program costs for the high-risk DOE projects profiled in this report total more than $100 billion. That figure includes more than $40 billion in estimated construction spending for nuclear weapons research and production facilities, $9 billion for nuclear bomb and warhead Life Extension Programs, and nuclear reactor loan guarantees of $54.5 billion.

In addition to runaway costs, these projects have huge environmental, safety and proliferation dangers.:

• Taxpayer-funded loan guarantees to subsidize new nuclear reactor construction were viewedas too risky by U.S. private sector investors even before the disasters at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi facility.\

• Production of highly toxic mixed-oxide (MOX) plutonium reactor fuel from warhead plutonium is an enormous environmental danger as demonstrated by contamination from the Daiichi 3 reactor.

• Construction of weapons research and production facilities, such as the Uranium Processing

Facility at Oak Ridge, the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the new Kansas City Plant, threaten to undermine global progress toward curbing nuclear proliferation.

• Design and manufacture of new versions of the W78 warhead and B61-12 bomb under theguise of Life Extension Programs, at a time when nuclear weapons systems are being retired due to the New START treaty, sends the wrong message to the rest of the world;

• Poor oversight at the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant diverts huge sums of money from an underfunded cleanup budget.

At the same time it is pursuing these dangerous, budget-busting nuclear projects, DOE is failing to provide adequate funding for its other high priority missions: cleaning up the radioactive and toxic legacy from decades of U.S. nuclear weapons research, testing, and development; funding much needed nonproliferation programs to secure fissile materials around the world; and promoting safe, clean energy alternatives.

Despite some progress, DOE estimates its remaining clean-up obligation at between $275 and $308 billion. Environmental remediation schedules stretch out to at least 2038 and as far as 2062 at some sites. Yet the agency’s FY2012 budget does not request enough funding to comply with current, legally enforceable clean-up agreements and legacy management requirements. Congress and the Administration are also seeking to cut the nuclear nonproliferation budget. Similarly, DOE has underfunded research into carbon-free, nuclear-free technologies, which can meet the nation’sfuture energy requirements..

Based on its analysis, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability concludes that DOE’s high-risk, high cost projects should be reevaluated, scaled down or terminated. Among specific recommendations:

• Congress should not authorize any additional loan guarantees for new commercial reactors

and should rescind authority for the remaining $10.2 billion.;

• Congress should halt all funding for the mixed oxide (MOX) plutonium fuel fabrication

plant, and direct DOE to reinstate the immobilization track for plutonium disposition.;

• Congress should halt taxpayer funding for new nuclear weapons projects and require a review by the JASONs team of independent scientists to determine if the purpose of these facilities and programs has shifted, potentially making them unnecessary.;

Congress should limit all nuclear weapons Life Extension Programs to refurbishment of components necessary to maintain existing safety and reliability;

• GAO and the Office of Management and Budget should regularly audit DOE projects and hold project managers accountable for significant cost overruns.

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