PO Box 88 ~ Glendale Springs, North Carolina 28629 ~ Phone (336) 982-2691 ~ Fax (336) 982-2954 ~ Email:


OCTOBER 9, 2007

Louis Zeller (336) 982-2691
Glenn Carroll (404) 378-4263
Edwin Lyman (202) 223-6133


Today two organizations announced the filing of a legal challenge that could stop the construction of a plutonium fuel factory at the Savannah River Site. Nuclear Watch South and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League uncovered information that the US Department of Energy plans major modifications to the proposed plutonium fuel factory.

The October 5th petition to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board read: “[T]he U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s environmental impact statement for the facility does not address significant proposed changes in the U.S. Department of Energy’s strategy for disposing of surplus weapons-grade plutonium, which in turn would require modifications to the design of the MOX plutonium fuel processing facility.”

Dr. Edwin Lyman is the expert witness for the new legal challenge. Dr. Lyman, senior staff scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, “In its new plan, the Energy Department has finally admitted that it cannot make MOX fuel from much of the highly impure plutonium waste it is sending to South Carolina without major modifications to the plant design. These modifications will result in significant additional environmental impacts that will have to be analyzed.”

“The DOE’s stunning failure forms the basis for this legal challenge,” said Louis Zeller, the League’s representative in the plutonium fuel case. “The federal government has jumped the gun by deciding to bring plutonium from other states to SRS without an end game.” He continued, “The people of the Central Savannah River Area must not suffer from the federal government’s latest incompetence.”

Glenn Carroll, Coordinator of Nuclear Watch South said, “Once again DOE’s ready-shoot-aim approach to plutonium disposition has shot its own program in the foot. It’s clear that the plutonium fuel factory has to be redesigned yet again; construction and licensing have to be halted. We should quit wasting time and tax money on the losing MOX proposition. Instead we can deal with both our nuclear waste and weapons problems by immobilizing plutonium.”

Dr. Lyman agreed, “Immobilization of this material in glass would be a far safer approach.”

Duke Energy has proposed to use weapons-grade plutonium fuel from SRS in addition to the uranium oxide fuel for which its reactors were designed. Duke’s future plans include the use of plutonium fuel at the McGuire and Catawba nuclear stations near Charlotte.


Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League's and Nuclear Watch South's Late Filed Contention Regarding Need to Supplement EIS for Proposed MOX Plutonium Processing Facility is posted on the Internet:

Oct. 5, 2007 - In 2002 the US Department of Energy discontinued its vitrification and immobilization plans for surplus plutonium; on September 5, 2007, the agency issued an Amended Record of Decision which said, "[e]liminating the mission for the Plutonium Vitrification process would result in the MFFF and H-Canyon processing additional plutonium, therefore requiring some modifications to both facilities." Such modification of the plutonium fuel factory (MFFF) was not requested or granted during the construction license process nor is it covered by the proposed operating license. This failure forms the basis for our latest challenge.