Shaw AREVA MOX Services, the contractor for the MOX facility at the Savannah River Site, has reported “nonconforming welds” in housings of key filters used to contain radioactive materials at the Site.
“During a routine quality control inspection, we initially discovered an issue with a small amount of welds,” said MOX Services representative Bryan Wilkes. “We reported the issue to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the National Nuclear Security Administration in a timely manner.”
The findings were reported in an event notification to the Commission. It states that HVAC filter housings had failed to meet the Commission’s regulation for defects and noncompliance. According to the notification, there is a possibility for additional material stresses to be placed on the subject filter housings which could cause spreading and increasing in the size of the cracks.
Tom Clements, a member of Friends of the Earth, acknowledged MOX Services’ diligence in handling the matter.
“While it is troubling that radioactive filter units with defective welds have been found at the MOX plant, it is encouraging that MOX Services caught the problem and eventually reported it to the NRC,” Clements said.
“One prominent anti-nuclear activist, who works against the MOX project and some SRS missions, has said it is encouraging that MOX project quality control procedures worked – and we appreciate that,” Wilkes added. “We will continue investigating and testing this batch of equipment and welds before any of it is installed.”
The entire plutonium disposition program, including the MOX project at SRS, is now under review by the Department of Energy.
The MOX plant is about 60 percent complete, but the project has undergone years of cost overruns and delays. The Government Accountability Office reported in June that the plant is $3 billion over budget, costing an estimated $7.7 billion.
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a journalism degree in May 2012.