Documents obtained by Savannah River Site Watch are providing even more evidence than is already out there that it is time for Congress to follow the Department of Energy’s recommendation and cancel the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MOX) for good.
“Overall performance is below the level needed for successful project completion, as culminated in cost overruns and schedule delays,” the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) wrote in its analysis of the contractor in charge of constructing MOX.
According to the NNSA documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act and released by Savannah River Site Watch, the MOX contractor, CB&I AREVA MOX Services (CB&I), received only 49 percent of the possible award fee. This dock in award fee was due to concerning findings regarding DB&I’s management of the project, including the fact that the contractor failed to adequately perform random drug testing of its employees. However, CB&I still received $4.33 million of the possible $8.86 million in award fees.
CB&I has now been the MOX contractor for over nine years. The project’s estimated total life-cycle cost (which includes construction and operating the plant for 20 years) has gone from $4 billion to a whopping $25 billion. But even $25 billion may not be enough. Independent cost estimates have found that unless annual appropriations more than double over the next few years, the whole MOX project could cost as much as $110 billion and won’t be complete until 2100. Government officials have further noted that the contractor is running at a 25 percent rework rate, meaning approximately one quarter of the work done on the MOX facility will have to be re-done.
The MOX project is a multi-billion dollar boondoggle that, even if completed, will not be able to complete its mission. Just this year the Administration announced they believe it would be in the best interest of taxpayers to pursue an alternative plan, but it’s up to Congress to make the final cut. With the contractor performing so poorly, and the cost mounting with every delay and mistake, it’s time to make the fiscally responsible decision and end MOX.