"US Faces Setbacks on 2 Fronts in Handling Radioactive Waste"

"The Energy Department, dealing with twin setbacks in its long effort to deal with Cold War-era radioactive waste, said Tuesday it was stopping construction of a massive plant in South Carolina to handle surplus plutonium and proceeding with an investigation into a leak at a nuclear dump in New Mexico that exposed 13 workers to airborne plutonium."

"In releasing its fiscal 2015 budget, energy officials said they were stopping construction of the "mixed oxide fuel" plant at the Savannah River site in South Carolina. "The cost has gotten way beyond what we could ask taxpayers for in these tight times," said officials at the National Nuclear Security Administration, a unit of the Energy Department.

The facility, which is more than half completed, was originally supposed to cost $4.8 billion, and the most recent construction cost estimate put it at $7.7 billion. The department has already spent $3.9 billion on the project, and the total projected cost for the plant hit $30 billion, including future operations.

The plant was intended to convert 34 tons of surplus bomb-grade plutonium into fuel for commercial reactors."

Ralph Vartabedian reports for the Los Angeles Times March 4, 2014.

Source: LA Times, 03/05/2014