Cost of Plutonium Scrap Facility Rises by Billions, DOE Says

By Douglas Birch, Center for Public Integrity – A U.S. effort to dispose of 34 tons of surplus plutonium from scrapped nuclear weapons has been long been stymied by cost overruns and technical problems. But now it seems the challenges to proceeding are even steeper than anticipated, with a new Energy Department study saying that a startling, year old cost estimate may still be billions of dollars short. The older study led by John MacWilliams, an advisor to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, estimated the lifetime cost of the so-called Mixed Oxide (MOX) plutonium elimination project in South Carolina at over $25.1 billion. But the new study, conducted by a U.S. Air Force-funded research and development center known as the Aerospace Corporation, says the effort could cost at least $30.7 billion to complete, according to a summary that was presented to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. After the summary was obtained...

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