Energy Watchdog: Plutonium Plant’s Missteps Still Loom Large

Workers lay concrete in 2008 at the unfinished Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility. The Energy Department's inspector general sees a risk of repeating errors that led to cost overruns in the project at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
Add to Briefcase
Diane Barnes
May 27, 2014, 10:57 a.m.

Aud­it­ors said the En­ergy De­part­ment may re­peat mis­steps that led to cost and sched­ule over­runs in an ini­ti­at­ive to elim­in­ate weapon-grade plutoni­um.

Of­fi­cials used an “im­ma­ture design” to es­tab­lish a 2007 “baseline” plan for a new fa­cil­ity to con­vert the plutoni­um in­to mixed-ox­ide re­act­or fuel, the En­ergy De­part­ment’s in­spect­or gen­er­al said in a new re­port. Gregory Fried­man and his audit team said the move led to in­ap­pro­pri­ately op­tim­ist­ic pre­dic­tions on con­struc­tion costs and em­ploy­ee turnover. Ul­ti­mately, rami­fic­a­tions in­cluded three years of delays and nearly $3 bil­lion in un­ex­pec­ted costs for the pro­ject at South Car­o­lina’s Sa­van­nah River Site.

“We re­main con­cerned with the pro­ject man­age­ment is­sues ob­served dur­ing the audit,” Fried­man said in the May 22 as­sess­ment.

He said the prob­lems found by his of­fice’s in­vest­ig­a­tion and by sim­il­ar probes are “ap­plic­able to the fu­ture dir­ec­tion of the MOX Fa­cil­ity and oth­er large de­part­ment con­struc­tion pro­jects.” Pre­vi­ously, the Army Corps of En­gin­eers de­term­ined that the MOX plant would cost $30 bil­lion to build and main­tain.

The En­ergy De­part­ment earli­er this year an­nounced plans to moth­ball the MOX fa­cil­ity, due to rising costs and sched­ule delays. The de­part­ment’s semi­autonom­ous Na­tion­al Nuc­le­ar Se­cur­ity Ad­min­is­tra­tion is still eval­u­at­ing op­tions for dis­pos­ing of the 34 met­ric tons of ex­cess U.S. weapons-grade plutoni­um, as re­quired un­der a non­pro­lif­er­a­tion deal with Rus­sia.

“This as­sess­ment and [an] as­so­ci­ated in­de­pend­ent re­view are ex­pec­ted to be com­pleted in the next 12 to 18 months,” ac­cord­ing to the in­spect­or gen­er­al’s re­port. “We are hope­ful that the audit res­ults can help to in­form the cur­rent pro­ject re­as­sess­ment.”

What We're Following See More »
TALKED ABOUT STRENGTHENING RUSSO-U.S. RELATIONS
Vekselberg Met with Cohen Days Before the Election
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Eleven days before the presidential inauguration last year, a billionaire Russian businessman with ties to the Kremlin visited Trump Tower in Manhattan to meet with Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, according to video footage and another person who attended the meeting. In Mr. Cohen’s office on the 26th floor, he and the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, discussed a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the United States under President Trump, according to Andrew Intrater, an American businessman who attended the meeting and invests money for Mr. Vekselberg."

Source:
HAS DELAYED WHILE INVESTIGATION CONTINUES
Mueller Tells Court He’s Ready for Papadopoulos Sentencing
2 days ago
THE LATEST
COPS A PLEA
Cohen Business Partner to Cooperate with Investigators
3 days ago
THE LATEST
R/E HIS DEMAND
Trump Meeting with Wray and Rosenstein
4 days ago
THE LATEST
TRUMP DEMANDED IT IN TWEET
DOJ Asks Watchdog to Look into Any Infiltration of Trump Campaign
5 days ago
THE LATEST

"The Justice Department asked its internal watchdog to examine if there was any impropriety in the counterintelligence investigation of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, after the president demanded Sunday that the department investigate the motives behind the inquiry. Earlier Sunday, in one of a series of tweets targeting the probe into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump wrote: 'I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!'"

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login