Info Bite: We’re pushing MOX

The United States and Russia signed an agreement on September 1, 2000 that would create a plutonium fuel fabrication plant in Russia with Western funds in order to convert surplus military plutonium into a reactor fuel (called mixed oxide or MOX fuel). The United States is planning to build a similar plant at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Though the agreement has been signed, the two sides could not agree on who would bear the liability for the program. Those liabilities could be enormous, especially as the West is pushing Russia to use plutonium fuel in Russian light water reactors. The Russian nuclear ministry has been reluctant to use plutonium fuel in such reactors, which were not designed for plutonium fuel. There is a low [but considerable] probability of accidents on the scale of Chernobyl in all commercial reactor designs. The use of plutonium as a fuel, especially under conditions of lax regulation in Russia, could increase those risks, the report noted.

–Arjun Makhijani,, January 4, 2001

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