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US MOX nixed by Duke Energy

A program that would have converted "surplus" U.S. nuclear weapons plutonium into reactor fuel has been abandonded by the utility - Duke Energy - destined to use it, according to Friends of the Earth. The problematic MOX fuel "lead test assemblies", manufactured in France, had already encountered technical setbacks which forced a stoppage for safety reasons at Duke's Catawba reactor where the tests were being conducted. The U.S. MOX program has already dragged on for ten years but it now seems unlikely that Duke will ever use MOX fuel in its reactors. Duke was under contract with Shaw Areva MOX services to conduct the tests. Areva came under fire in France for allowing the production of the lead test assemblies at its Cadarache site which was supposed to be shut down due to the high earthquake probability in the area. The Shaw Group was already in the spotlight after it was revealed by the Project on Government Oversight that current Shaw executive, Jeffery Merryfield, approved contracts for Shaw while a commissioner at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Former U.S. Energy Secretary, Spencer Abraham, is chairman of the board of Areva, Inc.