A group of more than a dozen prominent former arms negotiators and senior diplomats has sent a letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz urging an end to the U.S. nuclear fuel program at the government’s Savannah River complex that they say is too costly and a threat to non-proliferation efforts.
...The signatories included former nuclear arms negotiators Robert Einhorn and Robert Gallucci; former ambassadors Thomas Pickering and Joseph Nye; former White House director for arms control, former Pentagon and intelligence official Henry S. Rowen; former head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Jessica Matthews; former Nuclear Regulation Commission members Peter Bradford and Victor Gilinsky; National Medal of Science winner and a designer of the first hydrogen bomb Richard Garwin; and nuclear policy experts Henry Sokolski, Frank von Hippel, S. David Freeman and Ploughshares Fund president Joseph Cirincione.
But such concerns about the use of Mixed Oxide Uranium-Plutonium (MOX) fuel at commercial atomic reactors goes back 20 years. Grassroots anti-nuclear activists, as in the 1999 lawsuit Alice Hirt v. Bill Richardson, Energy Secretary, urged that weapons-grade plutonium be mixed back into the high-level radioactive waste from which it came in the first place, and be treated as a deadly, dangerous radioactive waste, not a nuclear power commodity.
However, the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility at the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River Site in South Carolina has proceeded regardless, a $5 billion waste of federal taxpayer money thus far, with no end in site. Incredibly, that construction bill is far from complete -- and the building constructed thus far, at huge expense, is too small to house the needed equipment!
But in addition to the unwarranted subsidy to the nuclear power industry, the program also risks nuclear weapons proliferation internationally, and also risks a plutonium-fuelled nuclear power catastrophe at reactors never designed for MOX use. More.