Backup battery banks removed from MOX ahead of schedule | News
Four massive battery banks were removed from the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site weeks ahead of schedule in March, another step forward in the process of shuttering and reworking the failed nuclear-fuel project.
Some of the battery packs have since been sold, according to Rick McLeod, the longtime president and CEO of the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization, the local nonprofit selected to haul off the equipment and find its next, or final, home.
McLeod in a statement said his organization was “grateful for the opportunity” to work with the National Nuclear Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy agency that oversaw the MOX project, and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, the management and operations contractor at the Savannah River Site.
Fluor-led Savannah River Nuclear Solutions has spearheaded the MOX transition, among other efforts.
MOX Termination Project Director Scott Raish described the removal and transfer of the battery banks as “no small task.” Combined, they weighed more than 90 tons. Five truckloads were needed to move the banks, which were meant to be a backup power source for MOX and were installed early on for testing.
“I am proud to say it was completed safely, efficiently and ahead of schedule,” Raish continued.
The National Nuclear Security Administration axed the MOX project – more than a decade in the making and employing more than 1,000 people – in October 2018. The NNSA and the U.S. Department of Defense months prior recommended repurposing the incomplete plant for plutonium pit production, the forging of nuclear weapon cores.
The cancellation of MOX stranded a plethora of equipment, gear and other materials.
Dave Olson, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions’ executive vice president for NNSA capital projects, in February said the mothballing left his team with roughly 9 million pieces of “uninstalled equipment” that were bought and never “put in.” At the time, about 7 million pieces were flagged for reuse in plutonium pit production as well as the Surplus Plutonium Disposition Project, a separate nuclear nonproliferation venture at the Savannah River Site’s K-Area.
The battery banks were unneeded at SRS or elsewhere in the Energy Department complex, the National Nuclear Security Administration and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions jointly said. Similarly, thousands of pounds of stainless steel left over from the MOX project was donated to schools in South Carolina and Georgia late last year.
Colin Demarest covers the Savannah River Site, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration and government in general. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin