On a blog hosted by the Augusta Chronicle, reporter Rob Pavey provides a good summary of the situation at the MOX facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Shaw AREVA MOX Services is building the facility which will convert nuclear weapons material into mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for U.S. nuclear power plants. The reporter effectively describes why there have been some misunderstandings in the media regarding reports issued on the MOX Project. He writes:
The mixed oxide, or “MOX” facility, emerged in the crosshairs of an audit unveiled last week by DOE’s Inspector General, whose critical findings included the purchase of 9,500 tons of substandard rebar for the $4.8 billion project.
However, he notes that this issue was not new and already had been resolved:
Last December, just a couple weeks before Christmas, a different federal agency—the Nuclear Regulatory Commission—filled a conference room in Aiken with scientists and government officials to talk about essentially the same thing.
The commission’s inspectors spent more than 4,300 staff hours over a two-year period evaluating all aspects of the MOX project, including quality control programs, construction activities and recordkeeping, said Deborah Seymour, chief of the NRC’s Construction Projects Inspection Branch.
“There were no specific areas that needed improvement,” she said at the time, noting that the only “minor violations” were detected.
The NRC’s clean bill of health for the project was made with full knowledge of the faulty rebar issue, which had also been explored in a Dec. 10 report issued by the House Energy and Water Subcommittee.
It bears mentioning once again that Shaw AREVA MOX Services is committed to building a safe, well-constructed facility that protects its workers, the public and the environment. Our work on the construction of the MOX Facility has always met the most stringent safety and quality standards and that will never change.