February 5, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The Project On Government Oversight and Taxpayers for Common Sense are encouraged by reports of waning support for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MOX) at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina, and believe the program should be cut entirely. All federal agencies need to halt wasteful spending in the current fiscal environment, and MOX is a prime candidate.
The MOX facility was designed to convert weapons-grade plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel for U.S. commercial nuclear reactors. Today, however, it is over budget, behind schedule, and lacking even a single customer. In 2004, the facility was estimated to cost $1.6 billion and expected to be operational by 2007. Delays and rising costs led to a price tag of at least $4.8 billion and an estimated completion date sometime in 2017. Estimated annual operating costs have also skyrocketed from $156 million in 2011 to $499 million today.
We recommended halting construction of the MOX facility in our May 2012 report Spending Even Less, Spending Even Smarter. The report noted that Members of Congress had raised concerns over the billions of dollars spent on a facility with no customers and no substantial feedstock. In 2008, Shaw AREVA MOX Services (MOX Services)—the project contractor—lost its contract with Duke Energy and hasn’t found a single replacement buyer. The House Appropriations Committee also pointed out safety concerns in light of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster and warned that continued funding for MOX takes resources away from other non-proliferation programs—programs you reiterated your commitment to just two months ago.
The DOE is now in the process of re-baselining MOX costs and schedule. We think this program has already failed the viability test. Halt the MOX program and use the facility for another purpose. Don’t let nuclear waste become a symbol for government waste.
For additional information, please contact Angela Canterbury or Danielle Brian at (202) 347-1122, or Laura Peterson or Ryan Alexander at (202) 546-8500.
Danielle Brian, Executive Director
President Project on Government Oversight
Ryan Alexander, President
Taxpayers for Common Sense
cc: Secretary of Energy Steven Chu; National Nuclear Security Administration Acting Administrator Neile L. Miller; Members of House and Senate Armed Services Committees; Members of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Members of House Energy and Commerce Committee; Members of House and Senate Appropriations Committees’ Energy and Water Development Subcommittees