MOX Project Wasted Vast Sums of Money on Stockpiling Huge Amounts of Equipment that Project Managers Knew would be Obsolete when the Project Began Operation – Investigations Needed
Columbia, SC – The announced sale of surplus equipment from the failed plutonium fuel (MOX) project at the Savannah River Site exposes the lack of financial and managerial accountability with the project, according to the non-profit public-interest group conducting public interest oversight of the site.
With no accounting to the public about details of the sale of equipment they own, DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration has hired two sales firms to sell the equipment stored in an off-site warehouse in Barnwell, South Carolina. (See sales company news releases in “notes” below. See photos of the facility on the SRS Watch website, ©SRS Watch: https://srswatch.org/savannah-river-site-watchphotos/) It is unknown where proceeds from the sale will go.
A review of the surplus property posted on the website of one of the sales companies reveals a host of things are being offered at rock-bottom, give-away prices: transformers, switchboards, control panels, electrical supplies, HVAC equipment, valves and an assortment of other materials. But no plutonium gloveboxes, furnaces to produce plutonium oxide or plutonium pellet presses seem to be offered for sale.
Savannah River Site Watch contends that the secretive sale of the equipment stored in a secure warehouse, about which the public knows little, only continues NNSA’s needless and inexplicable secrecy which has shielded the bungled MOX project of proper oversight from inception to termination.
The sale involves equipment in MOX equipment “warehouse #3” located off-site on Joey Zorn Boulevard in Barnwell, SC. Other MOX warehouses and laydown yards are on SRS proper but it is believed that it is easier to dispose of equipment from the off-site location, as there is no passage through the SRS perimeter gates.
On receiving an anonymous tip in December 2019 that the laydown yards at warehouse #3 were being cleared out, staff of SRS Watch visited the site and observed the virtually empty laydown yards and the NNSA security signs on the gates and at the storage building entrance. The laydown yards around warehouse #3 appear to have been emptied in late 2019, with little notice to the public as to what
happened with vast amounts of material or money that might have been collected from sale of the material.
“This give-away sale of equipment from the MOX debacle highlights the massive waste of money spent on equipment that was stockpiled willy-nilly just to spend annual budgets and enrich contractors,” said Tom Clements, director of Savannah River Site Watch. “At the time of the purchase of the equipment it was widely known it would never be used and that the equipment would be degraded due to decades of storage and would be obsolete whenever it might be used. The purchase of the equipment and stockpiling of it was part of a scam to defraud taxpayers. NNSA needs to give full accounting to the public about how much was spent on stockpiled MOX equipment, how much has been given away or scrapped and how much is being sold at pennies on the dollar,” added Clements. “The most just thing to do to empty the warehouse is to open the doors to the facility and let patriotic citizens take whatever they want as they paid for it and have absolutely received nothing in exchange for their forced financial support of the MOX project for over 20 years.”
SRS Watch has also received information from a credible source on how equipment purchased for the MOX project was essentially double billed, further ripping off tax payers. The DOE’s Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) are currently refusing to pursue information
concerning the alleged scheme to conduct fraud. That lack of concern by GAO and the DOE IG about potential equipment-purchase fraud must be reviewed as part of congressional investigations into waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement by NNSA and contractors with the MOX boondoggle.
In 2016, via the “Govt Excess Sale” link on the now defunct “moxproject” website, SRS Watch noted sale of “800,000 -1,500,000” pounds of off-specification rebar. The bid information was taken down after SRS Watch inquired about it. Other surplus items for sale had also been advertised via that link, as observed by SRS Watch. It is unknown how much “excess” property was sold by CB&I Areva MOX Services before the project collapsed due to negligence and mismanagement. “Where the money went from past sales of surplus MOX equipment is unclear and must be clarified by NNSA,” according to Clements.
NNSA claims that the MOX building and some MOX equipment can be repurposed into the proposed and unjustified SRS Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) but NNSA has failed to present proof of that. (A host of comments were recently submitted on the draft EIS on the PBP: https://srswatch.org/wpcontent/uploads/2020/06/SRS-Watch-news-on-plutonium-pit-comments-June-3-2020.pdf
It is unknown if NNSA is intentionally implying that “classified” equipment or “special nuclear material” is in warehouse #3. Curiously, the building has a sign above the entrance concerning the Atomic Weapons and Special Nuclear Materials Rewards Act. The policy statement in the law says: “This program is intended to reward the provision of original information regarding situations involving an illegal diversion, an attempted illegal diversion, or a conspiracy to divert special nuclear material or atomic weapons. The broad scope of this program is to help guard against the loss or diversion of such
material and to prevent any use or disposition thereof inimical to the common defense and security.” This implies that there could be Special Nuclear Material (uranium, plutonium) in the building but SRS Watch doubts that.
SRS Watch photos of warehouse # 3 on Joey Zorn. Blvd. in Barnwell, SC, ©SRS Watch:
See images inside warehouse #3, Joey Zorn Road, Barnwell, SC:
MOX-TV – by CB&I Areva MOX Services, February 28, 2018, Warehouse 3:
MOX TV – December 13, 2017, on-site Warehouse 1:
MOX TV – January 29, 2018, on-site Warehouse 2:
News releases by companies contacted to sell equipment from warehouse #3.: