March 30th, 2011 – Using Catawba and Browns Ferry MOX safety evaluation reports

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From: Franovich, Mike
Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 9:40 AM
To: Kock, Andrea
Subject: RE: Question on article on MOX at Japan

Unit 3 definitely as some MOX fuel loaded in the core and possibly in the U3 SFP. We may want to ask for the Catawba MOX proposal/safety evaluation report (which the project is now dead) and the Browns Ferry (?) proposal if the staff can provide the dose/health consequence analysis and a synopsis of their take on the MOX issue in terms of public risk. Duke had done extensive work, but I don’t know where TVA is on this. The amendment to use MOX in the reactor would be handled by NRR with support from NMSS as needed (at least that was the previous arrangement).

From: Kock, Andrea
Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 9:31 AM
To: Franovich, Mike
Subject: Question on article on MOX at Japan

Mike: below is the question I plan to forward to OEDO asking for more information on the article below on MOX fuel that WCO asked about this morning. Is there anything I should add to the questions or do you have additional information on this topic?Thanks!

HI Alan! I am copying Kathy in case one or both of you is tied up in the Ops Center. Commissioner Ostendorff would like additional information regarding the article below that was in the “NRC in the News” yesterday. Specifically, has the NRC staff verified the claim that Reactor 3 contains MOX fuel, and if so, has the fact that some of the fuel is MOX posed any safety challenges during the event. Also, more generally, has the staff evaluated the concerns that MOX fuel poses greater safety or security concerns? If so, can you forward the staff’s assessment. Thanks.

Mixed Oxide Nuclear Fuel Raises Safety Questions. The Scientific American (3/25, Matson) reported that reactor No. 3 at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi power station in Japan “has one characteristic that differentiates it from its neighboring reactors and from any operating reactor in the US” Among the “hundreds of standard nuclear fuel assemblies in its core… are some that contain a mix of uranium and plutonium,” or MOX. The use of MOX is controversial, and some “critics say that MOX is riskier than standard fuel and that there are better ways to dispose of excess plutonium.” Notably, “the federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which operates the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant and two other nuclear facilities, has expressed some interest in trying MOX and may step up to take fuel from” the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) in South Carolina.

Andrea Kock
Technical Assistant for Materials
Office of Commissioner Ostendorff

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