July 17, 1997

DOE Headquarters - Jeff Sherwood, 202/586-5806
Chicago Operations Office - Gary Pitchford, 630/252-2013


The United States Department of Energy (DOE) today issued for public comment a Program Acquisition Strategy for Obtaining Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication and Reactor Irradiation Services.

The document proposes a procurement approach for selecting private sector organizations to assist in implementing the MOX fuel alternative for disposing of surplus weapons plutonium. The MOX fuel alternative is part of a two technology plan announced by the department in January 1997, that allows for the disposal of surplus plutonium by immobilization in glass or ceramic forms and by placing the plutonium in mixed oxide fuel and irradiating the fuel in commercial light water reactors.

The MOX fuel fabrication services detailed in the proposed strategy include: designing, constructing or modifying, licensing, and operating a fuel fabrication facility; supplying commercial nuclear fuel for the reactors; and ultimately, decontaminating and decommissioning the facility.

Irradiation services involve all activities necessary to burn fuel assemblies containing MOX fuel at commercial reactors licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. These activities include: performing design and engineering services to modify reactors and facilities to use MOX fuel; obtaining necessary federal, state and local environmental permits; performing core design and fuel design services; irradiating the fuel; and storing the irradiated fuel until it can be ultimately sent to a geologic repository for disposal.

The strategy also states that the U.S. would pursue the use of CANDU reactors in Canada if international agreements are reached among the Russian Federation, Canada and the United States to implement disposition of U.S. and Russian plutonium.

The document issued today requests comments by September 12 from prospective offerors and other interested parties on DOE's proposed approach.

Comments may be submitted two ways. First, a workshop to receive comments will be held on August 28 at the DOE Chicago Operations Office, located on the Argonne National Laboratory site near Chicago, IL. The workshop will be used to seek feedback on a number of issues involved in the procurement, including: 1) the proposed contracting approach, 2) the level of information and details to be provided, 3) proposed terms and conditions for implementing a contract between industry and DOE, 4) the department's approach to allocation of liability, and 5) the department's proposed schedule, which calls for a final Request for Proposals to be issued in February 1998.

Second, comments may be submitted in writing to:

United States Department of Energy
9800 South Cass Avenue
Attn: Marlene Martinez
Argonne, IL 60439

Ms. Martinez's fax number is 630-252-2984. Her E-mail address is [email protected].

Comments or questions received by August 18 will be addressed at the workshop. All comments received will be used in preparing first a draft and then a final Request for Proposals.

The Internet address for a copy of the proposed strategy is:

An Environmental Impact Statement is being prepared as part of the department's process of making a decision on siting the MOX fuel fabrication facility. Award of the contract and start of construction of the facility will not take place prior to issuance of a Record of Decision. DOE plans to complete the Environmental Impact Statement and the contractor selection by September 1998.

DOE's Chicago Operations Office is carrying out this solicitation in support of the department's Office of Fissile Materials Disposition.