House committee approves MOX funding

Jul 15, 2014
In The News

A United States House appropriations committee passed a bill Thursday that, if adopted, would provide $345 million for construction of the Savannah River Site’s MOX facility.

The Energy and Water Appropriations bill has been debated this week, with members of the committee offering up various amendments.

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., wrote that the passage of the bill ensures the safety of the missions at the Savannah River Site.The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility program made it through the amendment process with the funding request still intact. The $345 million is $149 million more than what appeared in President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget request. Obama’s budget request seeks to place the program in a cold stand-by.

“I am grateful that we were able to provide MOX with the additional resources to move forward with its completion, which is necessary to fulfill our international nonproliferation agreements,” Wilson wrote.

Next, the bill will be taken up in the Senate and will eventually have to be approved by Congress before it makes it to the president’s desk for a signature.

The House’s approval of the bill comes a day after the White House’s Office on Management and Budget released a statement objecting to the entire bill, including the funding scope for MOX.

“The (Obama) Administration strongly objects to language that would require the Secretary of Energy to continue construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility,” officials wrote in a statement dated July 9.

The MOX program is part of a nonproliferation agreement with Russia to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium.

Naysayers of the program have said it is unsustainable, citing a Department of Energy study in April that priced the entire program at more than $30 billion.

Advocates of the program, including AREVA – a partner of the MOX contractor – said the cost is closer to $17 billion.

Currently, the National Nuclear Security Administration is working with the contractor, Shaw AREVA MOX Services, on a plan to place the program in a cold stand-by at the start of the fiscal year 2015 beginning Oct. 1.

Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard.