All MOX’d Up

“DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO …” Last September this website published a story highlighting the soaring costs associated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s  “mixed oxide fuel” (MOX) project at the Savannah River Site. At the time we noted the facility – which is supposed to turn weapons grade plutonium into…


Last September this website published a story highlighting the soaring costs associated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s  “mixed oxide fuel” (MOX) project at the Savannah River Site.

At the time we noted the facility – which is supposed to turn weapons grade plutonium into fuel for nuclear reactors – was supposed to be completed in 2007 at a cost of $1.6 billion to taxpayers.

Well guess what … it still isn’t finished. And now the latest cost estimate for the project has soared from $7.7 billion to $10 billion (assuming U.S. President Barack Obama permits it to move forward).

Obama reduced funding for the plant last year to “just” half a billion – and wants to zero it out moving forward.

Such a move would likely cost South Carolina thousands of jobs – and leave taxpayers on the hook for as much as $3.7 billion in sunk costs.

What happened? Nobody knows. In fact a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released this month reveals that the DOE hasn’t the foggiest of notions why this project’s costs continue to balloon.

Specifically, the report says the DOE “has not analyzed the underlying, or root, causes of the Plutonium Disposition program construction cost increases to help identify lessons learned and help address the agency’s difficulty in completing projects within cost and schedule.”

What’s that they say in Washington, D.C.? “A billion here, a billion there … sooner or later we’re talking about real money.”

Well, this is a multi-billion dollar bath taxpayers are about to take … one that’s going to flush a large number of Palmetto State jobs down the drain with it.

And for what?


UPDATE: For those of you wondering where our headline came from, here’s 311’s “All Mixed Up.”

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shifty henry February 25, 2014 at 5:23 pm

They’ve had SIX YEARS to study and determine “ the underlying, or root, causes of the Plutonium Disposition program construction cost increases to help identify lessons learned and help address the agency’s difficulty in completing projects within cost and schedule” —- that would not only be a lie but a coverup!!

jimlewisowb February 25, 2014 at 5:34 pm

$10 Billion and nothing to show for it

Not bad – Obama has been POTUS for over 5 years and he has nothing to show for it

Buck Farack

Bill February 25, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Bush was President for 8 years. Spent Three Trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan and we have absolutely nothing to show for it.

TontoBubbaGoldstein February 25, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Sadly, you are wrong…as a visit to any VA Hospital will show….

GrandTango February 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Yet you set up there w/ a hard on…cheering Obama, as he slashes military benefits…even though those soldiers made it safe for you to sleep w/o getting bombed…

TontoBubbaGoldstein February 25, 2014 at 6:47 pm


You are weirding me out….

GrandTango February 25, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Quit jerking off to Obama and his hatred of the military…and making your inch-worm so obvious….

TBG the gay porn star February 25, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Get ready for some GrandTango metaphorical dick sucking.

GrandTango February 25, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Hey idiot…Afghanistan is actually the war Obama said he liked. And more people were killed under Obama in Afghanistan than all 8 years of Bush…

Not to mention Bush won the war in Iraq..and had a nice little set up for our national security, until Obama has neglected it, and screwed it up… What a waste and failure Obama is…

Rocky February 26, 2014 at 10:07 am

GT – US deaths Afghanistan – 2,174. Iraq – 4,488. Let me help you out, you put the 4,488 over the 2,174, then make the little subtraction dash. 8 minus four is 4, 8 minus 7 is 1, 4 minus one is 3 and four minus two is 2. So the number is 2,314 difference – so actually 2,314 more US soldiers died in Iraq. So I don’t know how you get your numbers, must be Low Country Math.

GrandTango February 26, 2014 at 11:07 am

So you’re OK w/ dead Americans, as long as Obama killed them…even if he has Accomplished NOTHING but making the US a laughingstock…wheras Bush followed Congress and did what he was instructed to do…

No wonder the military hates liberals…and votes for Republicans…

PS You never told me your occupation, that you claim is going so well under Obama…???

Best Hand Job® February 26, 2014 at 11:37 am

Asshole, you posted for around 13 fucking hours on Fits yesterday convincing not one person to your viewpoint. Tell me, Do you think your time was so well spent that YOU could have been looking for work instead? Don’t give me this “publishing (if you do actually have a degree in Journalism) is too tough on Conseratives…” There’s plently of conseratives writing away these days, if fact, more than ever. Stop beng a tautology and get a fucking job.

GrandTango February 26, 2014 at 12:01 pm

You’re very akin to the Nazi Party, KGB, Obama’s IRS/NBP or the Gestapo…

If someone flies in the face of your mythology, and shows who you really are, you $#!* all over yourself…

You cannot stand that I’m an honest pursuer of truth…while you live in a H#!! of lies, hate and ignorance…

Light will always obliterate darkness…and you are a sad and ugly cloud….miserable when you are made to see who, and what, you are…

dwb619 February 26, 2014 at 9:20 pm

As Rita Rudner said, “I don’t even want to do something that feels good that long”.

PlutoBoy February 26, 2014 at 7:47 am

The MOX program was begun by Clinton, GW Bush reviewed it and ramped it up and Obama has kept it going (till now). One thing has been constant with the failed program – support by big-government politicians like Senator Lindsey Graham and Rep. Joe Wilson. So, there is plenty of blame to spread around with Lindsey’s pet boondoggle. Time to end this massive, mismananged waste.

Anonymous February 25, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Jim Clyburn and the Administration at South Carolina State just said, “Hey, they did better than us!”

Will Folks aka Sic February 25, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Ha! So true … and so much money being pissed away.

TontoBubbaGoldstein February 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm

…$3.7 billion in sunk costs.

In poker, once money is in the pot…it’s not *yours*, anymore.

“Throwing good money after bad” will break you every time.

At some point, we’ve got to stop the bleeding.

dwb619 February 25, 2014 at 8:57 pm

And who are the biggest proponents for MOX from South Carolina?
Lindsey Graham and Joe Wilson.

CNSYD February 25, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Obviously you prefer that weapons grade plutonium be stored in dozens of locations where it can possibly be stolen. Further, an ultimate use of this facility is the possible receipt of weapons grade plutonium from the former Soviet Union. But I guess that you would prefer that Putin, et al keep it.

dwb619 February 25, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Absolutely do not.
That was the EXACT reason Jimmy Carter, A Navy Nuclear physicist , stopped the Allied Gulf project in Barnwell.
I was merely pointing out that all the opinions implying that this is a Democratic boondoggle, are in fact, aggressively pushed by two Republican elected officials from our state.
As far as denying the availability of the plutonium to terrorist, one would prudent to read up on the method of “encapsulation”.
When the MOX mission was originally conceived the Russians were committed to building a twin of this facility to handle their weapons grade plutonium.

CNSYD February 25, 2014 at 9:50 pm

To start with, Carter was not a “nuclear physicist”. He was a Naval Academy graduate who was assigned to the naval nuclear submarine program. If he is a “nuclear physicist” then thousands and thousands of others who served in the naval nuclear program are also. There are various encapsulation schemes but not for plutonium. Read up on that. Did you really think the Russians were going to follow thru? Chamberlain thought Hitler would follow thru also. That is why the US needs to take the material off their hands.

dwb619 February 25, 2014 at 10:24 pm

I stand corrected on Carter’s degree. However, he was selected by Rickover, and ultimately served on a nuclear powered submarine.
As far as encapsulation of weapons grade, I worked on the prototypes of arraying the plutonium cannisters within the vitrified waste “logs” of liquid waste.
The plan was to pour the molted glass/waste solution into the “logs”, immobilizing the plutonium within the solidified glass.
This was prior to the authorization of the MOX technique.

west_rhino February 26, 2014 at 2:23 pm

like the weapons grade material that was unloaded on Clinton, under the guise of making it more secure, though it was flown into Knoxville for storage at Oak Ridge site…
The U235, U238 and Pu239 are of little use in seed irradiation, other isotopes, which are far more radioactive (and likely decayed past 7 half lives) are better for those purposes…
what say CNSYD and c/105?

Cayman islands here I cum February 26, 2014 at 10:11 am

Just think, that money could have gone to bail out another TBTF.

Limbaughsaphatkhunt February 25, 2014 at 6:52 pm

From the standpoint of this project being ill advised (as I believe all nuclear reactors and related programs are), I agree with the writer that this project is a failure.

The fossil fool industry has a near strangle hold on energy production and forced consumption in America, followed not far behind by their nuclear brethren.

Make no mistake, there are sustainable and renewable energy resource technologies out there that when combined with reduced and sensible consumption can compete pound for pound with our current system. They are getting better all the time but not as fast as they could be b/c both public and private investment are hampered by continued forced reliance on dead dinosaurs and dangerous isotopes.

GrandTango February 25, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Ever hear of Solyndra or the Chevy Volt Dumb@$$…???

The best thing Obama did, by his total failure on energy, was demonstrate what a bunch of Bull$#!* artists you Flat-Earthers are…

Limbaughsaphatkhunt February 25, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Confusing comment. Flat earthers (climate change deniers) are the ones in cahoots with carbon energy concerns. More importantly if you’re so keen to cleave gov’t money away from private enterprise as per Solyndra…then you can start with Exxon-Mobil, BP, Shell or GE or any one of a number of private entities that get OUR taxpayer dollars in direct grants or heavy tax subsidies EVERY year.

Make no mistake, the gov’t has been picking winners and losers in the market place for decades well before Obama ever stepped foot into office.

GrandTango February 25, 2014 at 7:05 pm

No Dumb@$$…I said Chevy Volt and Solyndra…Obama picks LOSERS only…

Exxon-Mobil and BP actually produce something of VALUE…you idiot…They are winners, being strangled by your Nazi god-Obama…

Also: You liberals, as you show, are all in the same nut-camp… Be it Flat-Earth Global Warming idiots or some yet-to-be- announced space alien-based fuel source, you think has been found, but it’s in hiding because of Big Oil…

Limbaughsaphatkhunt February 25, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Do us all a favor. Up the dose and stay in the trailer park.

GrandTango February 25, 2014 at 7:18 pm

That’s really original..All it really shows is that you are a lost Obama Dumb@$$…

And: How much is the Obama Administration paying you to post myths that guide you dolts???…I heard the White House has people on-line doing what you are doing (selling ignorance)…..

Limbaughsaphatkhunt February 25, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Yeah, me and the rest of America who voted President Obama into office…twice…by large margins of electoral votes. Suck it up

GrandTango February 25, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Thanks for admitting your Stupid @$$ is to blame for the high energy prices, unemployment and the joke the US is now seen as around the world…

Too bad Obama lied before the election, so his approval rating did not dip to the 30s, until after the @$$hole got re-elected by idiots like you…

Limbaughsaphatkhunt February 25, 2014 at 9:00 pm

You’re not worth my typing or intellectual energy. It’s clear you’re not into actual debating but rather much more interested in proving to everyone on this site what douche bag you are.

Mission accomplished and I’ll never engage with you again so you can stop trolling me.

TontoBubbaGoldstein February 25, 2014 at 9:38 pm

” It’s clear you’re not into actual debating but rather much more interested in proving to everyone on this site what douche bag you are.”

In fairness, GrandTango is into “metaphorical dick sucking.”

Limbaughsaphatkhunt February 25, 2014 at 9:43 pm

and heaps of butthurt

GrandTango February 26, 2014 at 6:28 am

Amazing how often an odd-ball liberal (w/ all the answers) takes his ball and goes home, all of the sudden, when you actually challenge him on his leftwing Bull-$#!*…

So I guess you (and Obama) are going to keep secret all the wonderful, viable and affordable energy sources Obama is sitting on???

Such a pity….we need leadership NOW more than ever…but you, and Obama, quit on us…

PlutoBoy February 27, 2014 at 1:03 pm

MOX is a real LOSER and transfers our wealth to private companies. Are you against this socialist debacle?

TontoBubbaGoldstein February 25, 2014 at 7:48 pm

” the Chevy Volt Dumb@$$”

Congrats on having a car named after you, T. You ought to special order one with “T-Tops”.

CNSYD February 25, 2014 at 8:02 pm

As the old saying goes, you can freeze to death in the dark with your “alternative” fuel.

Limbaughsaphatkhunt February 25, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Or you can drown in oil slicks out in the gulf and have your tax dollars pay to clean it up while the CEO gets golden hand shakes.

CNSYD February 25, 2014 at 9:11 pm

CEO golden hand shakes are called free market.

Limbaughsaphatkhunt February 25, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Even when that hand shake is built off taxpayer money in the form of tax incentives and grants to private entities? Look, if you want to play that game, then allow for a level playing field where alternative fuel sources get as much oxygen as fossil and nuclear, or otherwise stop giving our money to all of them and let pure market forces figure out the winners.
By the way, you’re jibe at alternative fuels is simply not accurate. The sun rises every day and the up and coming crop of PV cells can harness the energy better than ever and virtually get rid of the need for coal fired energy. Don’t be a flat earther brother.

CNSYD February 25, 2014 at 9:23 pm

You planning on flying in a solar powered airplane? The sun is not too bright over 500 feet under the sea. I guess our submarines can use hand cranks like the Hunley. “Coming crop”. Until it is here and proven it is pie in the sky.

Limbaughsaphatkhunt February 25, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Obviously you’re still consulting the old Encyclopedia Britannica books on your self from 1985 instead of learning about hydrogen powered aircraft (technolgy is here now and is proven, just needs some love from investors and a bit more teething). Perhaps Haley can cut a sweetheart deal like she did for Boeing. Subs are already using advances in battery storage and power redistrubtion as well as Fuel Cells instead of wholly relying on nuclear or diesel.

CNSYD February 25, 2014 at 9:56 pm

Name me the battery powered submarine that can circumnavigate the globe submerged while producing the electricity needed for “minor” tasks like producing potable water from sea water, breathable air, etc.

Hydrogen powered aircraft. Just one word for you. Hindenburg.

Limbaughsaphatkhunt February 25, 2014 at 10:02 pm


Siemens has developed a 30-50 kilowatt fuel cell unit. Nine of these units are incorporated into Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft AG’s 1,830t submarine U31, lead ship for the Type 212A class of the German Navy. The other boats of this class and HDW’s AIP equipped export submarines (Dolphin class submarine, Type 209 mod and Type 214) use two 120 kW modules, also from Siemens.[9]

After the success of Howaldtswerke
Deutsche Werft AG’s in its export activities, several builders have
developed their own fuel-cell auxiliary units for submarines but as of
2008 no other shipyard has a contract for a submarine so equipped.

The AIP implemented on the S-80 class of the Spanish Navy is based on a bioethanol-processor (provided by Hynergreen from Abengoa,
SA) consisting of a reaction chamber and several intermediate Coprox
reactors, that will transform the BioEtOH in high purity hydrogen. The
output feeds a series of fuel cells from UTC Power company (which also supplied fuel cells for the Space Shuttle).

The reformator is fed with bioethanol as fuel, and oxygen (stored as a liquid in a high pressure cryogenic tank), generating hydrogen as a sub-product. The produced hydrogen and more oxygen is fed to the fuel cells.[10]


The Russian manufacturer Tupolev built a prototype hydrogen-powered version of the Tu-154 airliner, named the Tu-155, which made its first flight in 1989.[6] This was the first experimental aircraft in the world operating on liquid hydrogen.

Boeing Research & Technology Europe (BR&TE) made a civilian aircraft from a 2-seat Diamond Aircraft Industries DA20 motor glider running on a fuel cell (called Theator Airplane)”.[7][8] Lange Aviation GmbH also made a hydrogen-powered airplane with its Antares DLR-H2 airplane.[9]
These aircraft are of course configured in such fashion that the
current low energy output from hydrogen propulsion (a result of the
low-pressure hydrogen tanks) do not pose a problem. For example the
Boeing Theator airplane only required 45 kW to take off, and 20 kW to
stay airborne. In July 2010 Boeing also unveiled its hydrogen powered Phantom Eye UAV, that uses two Ford Motor Company internal combustion engines converted to operate on hydrogen.[10]

ENFICA-FC demonstrated its Rapid 200-FC aircraft in 2010.[11][12]

In 2011, an AeroVironment Global Observer which was fitted with a hydrogen-fueled propulsion system.[13][clarification needed]

CNSYD February 25, 2014 at 10:06 pm

You failed to answer my submarine question. Your bath tub models may be fun but they can’t do the heavy work.

Limbaughsaphatkhunt February 25, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Dude, google the shit. I don’t have all day to do your research for you.

CNSYD February 25, 2014 at 10:14 pm

You have aptly described what you proffered while continuing to ignore the question.

dwb619 February 25, 2014 at 10:41 pm


TontoBubbaGoldstein February 25, 2014 at 9:41 pm

“Make no mistake, there are sustainable and renewable energy resource technologies out there that when combined with reduced and sensible consumption can compete pound for pound with our current system. “

Dammit man!
Put some clothes on that assertion!!

Seriously….you mind ‘splainin’ a little?

Limbaughsaphatkhunt February 25, 2014 at 9:52 pm

It means that Americans need to stop being energy hogs and use less of it.

The Garden of Eden February 26, 2014 at 10:10 am

We just need the proper mix of well written and well regulated laws to perfect the people and make everyone happier.

TontoBubbaGoldstein February 26, 2014 at 3:50 pm

We also need an adequate number of death camps, concentration camps, gulags re-education camps, for those who won’t get with the program.

TontoBubbaGoldstein February 26, 2014 at 3:48 pm

So the “sustainable and renewable” energy sources will power my AC just as well, pound for pound, as our current system; as long as I don’t use my AC?


RHood2 February 25, 2014 at 7:30 pm

part of the story that is not included is the test of MOX fuel in a commercial nuclear plant here, at the Catawba Nuclear Station, did not work. the fuel did not act as it should have, and they stopped it early. About two years ago, I think. This was French plutonium MOX, produced as a byproduct from their reactors, not weapons grade plutonium MOX. And the other HALF of the story is the Russians are supposed to be doing the same, and aren’t.

PlutoBoy February 26, 2014 at 7:38 am

That failed MOX test at the Catawba was of MOX made from weapons-grae plutonium shipped to France for DOE’s Los Alamos Lab. Duke Energy halted the test after problems and withdrew from the program. Now, there are no customers (reactors) to use MOX but that doesn’t deter Senator Graham and Rep. Joe Wilson from pushing a failed program as their contractor buddies are getting rich off us tax payers. Big government at its worst!

RHood2 February 27, 2014 at 9:45 am

That was the problem. They used French MOX. We need to make FREEDOM MOX.
And it’s kind of odd that the government didn’t really want to give it out for free. And the utilities that thought about using it didn’t want to pass the discount or free price they got from getting cheap or free fuel on to the customers.

PlutoBoy February 27, 2014 at 1:02 pm

A huge problem with the SRS MOX plant is that it’s based on the French socialist design and they can’t simply build it to US standards. Though it will paraded as selling fuel at a discounted price, utilities would be paid to use MOX. But there are no takers as there are risk to reactor operation by using an experimental fuel (made from weapons-grade plutonium). And the PR risks to a utility will be great. Time to pull the plug and immobilize the plutonium in existing high-level waste at SRS, which is where it originally came from.

RHood2 February 25, 2014 at 7:33 pm

A nice symbol of this mess is the old Allied General Nuclear Station, or AGNS. it sits about 10, 15 miles from the MOX plant. MOX is on the Savannah River Site. AGNS right next door. It was going to clean up spent commercial nuclear fuel, but that process, called reprocessing, was shut down by Jimmy Carter. This cluster has been going on through several administrations, Democrat and Republican. It’s closer to the end game now, so it’s easy to want to blame Obama. He’s no fan of the technology or proposal. But the alternatives are worse.

DirtyD360 February 25, 2014 at 10:01 pm

With fed govnt projects, a certain percentage of bids have to go to a minority owned business even if they aren’t the lowest bid. It makes it even harder to find qualified vendors for speciality equipment for a nuke plant. Also the bids must stay inside the USA

euwe max February 26, 2014 at 3:16 am

race is at the root of everything in South Carolina.

White people fuck everything up.

PlutoBoy February 26, 2014 at 7:21 am

The plutonium MOX program is Senator Lindsey Graham’s pet boondoggle. From his seat on the Energy & Water Subcommittee (funds DOE), he has protected the program for a decade, assuring that our wealth is transferred to the main contractor – Shaw AREVA MOX Services. (That AREVA part is owned by the French government.) If the cheaper, quicker option to immobilize plutonium in high-level waste at the Savannah River Site had been allowed to go forward, we’d already be disposing of plutonium. But big-government politicians like Graham and Rep. Joe Wilson have put self-interest and parochial interests above tax-payer interests. So, we have ended up with the MOX train wreck, which has run up the debt and plutonium disposition has gone nowhere and is a huge failure. Time to pull the plug on this debacle before another $25 billion is wasted.

dwb619 February 26, 2014 at 2:07 pm


PlutoBoy February 27, 2014 at 7:11 am

SRS has already immobilized plutonium in vitrified high-level waste. Vitrification of waste is on going. Sending it directly into the waste or placing in the waste as ceramic “pucks” is possible. Mixing with an inert material and sending to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico is also taking place but the recent radioactive leak & accident at WIPP may severely impact operation of that site. (lesson there – all nuclear dumps leak…)

grumpy taxpayer February 26, 2014 at 8:44 am

$3.7 billion in sunk costs is better than the projected $30 billion to “complete” this bumbling project with nothing to offer but great paying but useless jobs. Product is unwanted. Just solidify the wastes and be done with it.

Glenn Carroll February 26, 2014 at 9:30 am

Speaking as a 15-year intervenor in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing of the perpetually 60%-finished MOX factory, I “know too much” about the plutonium risks and security gaps. But there is one inescapable disconnect about the “MOX Factory to Nowhere.” The bottom-line for providing plutonium security via the MOX plutonium fuel path, is to irradiate the low-activity plutonium in a nuclear reactor in order to build a high-radiation barrier to protect the plutonium from theft or diversion.

There simply are no utilities willing to load MOX fuel into their reactors, even with federal financial enticements. Duke Power exited the MOX program following the well publicized plutonium fuel failure in its reactors.

And there you have it.

Yes, South Carolina has become hooked on the deadly jobs at Savannah River Site for over 50 years now. Tell it to the horse buggy industry, the pager industry, the 8-track tape industry … we move on!

For starters, South Carolina could cut loose with off-shore wind …

But for the tax-paying citizens of the United States, we are crying to use those billions to feed and educate our children, to provide homes and health care to our citizens.

AND there are lots of jobs for the foreseeable future to take care of the tank waste and contamination at SRS.


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