Evaluating disposal of surplus plutonium

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Under an agreement with the TVA, the use of mixed oxide fuel will be looked at during the process

By Special to the Monitor

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has signed an interagency agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to evaluate the use of mixed oxide (MOX) fuel made from U.S. surplus weapons-grade plutonium in TVA’s Sequoyah and Browns Ferry nuclear power reactors.  

Converting the plutonium to spent fuel is an essential step in U.S. efforts to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus weapon-grade plutonium withdrawn from the nuclear weapons program. The U.S. program is complemented by parallel efforts to dispose of an equal quantity of Russian surplus weapon-grade plutonium.  

President Obama’s recently released FY2011 Budget Request demonstrated his Administration’s commitment to securing and reducing nuclear material worldwide by proposing a 25.8 percent increase for NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation program.

Among the highlights of the $2.7 billion request for nonproliferation programs is a 47 percent increase for Fissile Materials Disposition - including funding for construction of the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility at Savannah River, a $103.9 million increase for the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility (PDCF) and $100 million of a $400 million commitment to support Russian plutonium disposition activities.

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