The Energy Department on Tuesday said construction of a mixed-oxide plant will continue for now, though the intention is to eventually ax the project.
“We will continue with construction activities through [fiscal] 2014, retaining the key nuclear engineers and other highly skilled workers that will be needed regardless of the path forward,” National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman Josh McConaha said in a statement to the Associated Press.
The Energy Department in its fiscal 2015 budget proposal said it planned to shut down work on the partially constructed MOX fuel fabrication facility in South Carolina due to the project’s high cost. That announcement was met by an outcry from the state of South Carolina, which is suing to keep the project going.
The department on Tuesday said it would not continue construction of the fuel fabrication facility past Sept. 30 — the end of the current fiscal year — unless it receives a pledge from Congress that further funding for building work would be approved to the tune of $500 million to $600 million annually until 2027, the New York Times reported.
The facility was intended to dispose of a large amount of surplus weapons-grade plutonium that the United States agreed to eliminate under a binding nonproliferation accord with Russia.
The National Nuclear Security Administration on Tuesday released a study into alternatives for disposing of the excess plutonium. The report focused on four alternative options: irradiating the plutonium in a fast reactor that would need to be built; immobilization; down-blending and storage at an existing underground nuclear-waste dump in New Mexico; and deep borehole disposal. The latter three options would all require a supplemental agreement to be worked out with Russia.
Down-blending the plutonium with inert materials and storing it at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant offered the smallest projected price tag at $8.8 billion.
Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, in a Tuesday analysis said the down-blending option was the best alternative, due to its comparatively low cost and technical risk.
The WIPP facility, however, is not presently accepting new shipments of radioactive waste, due to an accident earlier this year that caused the release of some radioactive elements.
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"According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, the first national post-debate survey, 43 percent of registered voters said the Democratic candidate won, compared with 26 percent who opted for the Republican Party’s standard bearer. Her 6-point lead over Trump among likely voters is unchanged from our previous survey: Clinton still leads Trump 42 percent to 36 percent in the race for the White House, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson taking 9 percent of the vote."
After a lighthearted beginning, Donald Trump's appearance at the Al Smith charity dinner in New York "took a tough turn as the crowd repeatedly booed the GOP nominee for his sharp-edged jokes about his rival Hillary Clinton."
Evan McMullin came out on top in a Emerson College poll of Utah with 31% of the vote. Donald Trump came in second with 27%, while Hillary Clinton took third with 24%. Gary Johnson received 5% of the vote in the survey.
A new Quinnipiac University poll finds Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by seven percentage points, 47%-40%. Trump’s “lead among men and white voters all but” vanished from the university’s early October poll. A new PPRI/Brookings survey shows a much bigger lead, with Clinton up 51%-36%. And an IBD/TIPP poll leans the other way, showing a virtual dead heat, with Trump taking 41% of the vote to Clinton’s 40% in a four-way matchup.