The final price tag of a mixed-oxide nuclear fuel facility being built in South Carolina may be as high as $30 billion, an unreleased U.S. study concludes.
Unidentified government officials and industry insiders who were briefed on the Energy Department study’s findings told the Center for Public Integrity the projected cost growth for the mixed-oxide fuel fabrication plant has led the Obama administration to favor pursuing alternatives for disposing of the 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium that the Savannah River site was intended to handle.
The probable final expense of the controversial MOX plant would likely be between $25 billion and $30 billion, sources said in the Friday article.
Numerous officials are starting to think that “it’s time for a shifting of gears,” said an administration official.
However, because no other fully developed option has emerged for dealing with the Russian-origin plutonium, the Obama administration will probably seek fiscal 2015 funds to continue building the mixed-oxide plant. Officials said the sought-after funding likely will be less than the roughly $343 million assigned for the project in the current fiscal year. A total of $4 billion has already been spent on construction.
The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, which is overseeing construction of the fuel-fabrication plant, declined to comment on the report.
The Energy Department reportedly is involved in drawn-out secret negotiations with Shaw Areva MOX Services, which is in charge of constructing and operating the plant. The department’s goal is to modify the contract with the European consortium so that company profits are lowered and more of the burden of cost overruns is shifted onto Shaw Areva’s shoulders.
However, talks are at an impasse, so the government is now examining alternatives for disposing of the surplus plutonium, sources told the center.
Russian officials have suggested in private diplomatic discussions that they would be open to a plan that converts the plutonium metal into a more proliferation-resistant powder form, which could then be entombed deep underground, an official said. Such a plan could take half a decade to complete and cost $6 billion, an unnamed source projected in the article.
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Despite trailing Hillary Clinton by a significant margin, Bernie Sanders wasn't going the way of Ted Cruz tonight. The Vermont senator upset Clinton in Indiana, with MSNBC calling the race at 9pm. Sanders appears poised to win by a five- or six-point spread.
And just like that, it's over. Ted Cruz will suspend his presidential campaign after losing badly to Donald Trump in Indiana tonight. "While Cruz had always hedged when asked whether he would quit if he lost Indiana; his campaign had laid a huge bet on the state." John Kasich's campaign has pledged to carry on. “From the beginning, I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” said Cruz. “Tonight, I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed."
The Republican establishment's last remaining hope—a contested convention this summer—may have just ended in Indiana, as Donald Trump won a decisive victory over Ted Cruz. Nothing Cruz seemed to have in his corner seemed to help—not a presumptive VP pick in Carly Fiorina, not a midwestern state where he's done well in the past, and not the state's legions of conservatives. Though Trump "won't secure the 1,237 delegates he needs to formally claim the nomination until June, his Indiana triumph makes it almost impossible to stop him. Following his decisive wins in New York and other East Coast states, the Indiana victory could put Trump within 200 delegates of the magic number he needs to clinch the nomination." Cruz, meanwhile, "now faces the agonizing choice of whether to remain in the race, with his attempt to force the party into a contested convention in tatters, or to bow out and cede the party nomination to his political nemesis." The Associated Press, which called the race at 7pm, predicts Trump will win at least 45 delegates.