Cost of Savannah River Site Plutonium Bomb Plant Soars to $11 Billion; DOE’s Nuclear Bomb Facility Jolts FY22 Funding
Savannah River Site Watch May 29, 2021
“Though pressure is growing on the unneeded GBSD, DOE and DOD have so far refused to reassess the supposed need for the costly weapons system and the need for new plutonium pits on its warhead. Over 15,000 pits are in storage at DOE’s Pantex site in Texas and experts have stated that they “have credible minimum lifetimes in excess of 100 years as regards aging of plutonium.” (JASON “Pit Lifetime” report to NNSA, January 2007)”
NNSA Request of $475 Million for Unneeded Pit Production Plant for Nuclear Warheads is Far Under Annual Level Needed for Controversial Project, Spells Trouble
COLUMBIA, SC, US, May 29, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ — The U.S. Department of Energy budget request to Congress for Fiscal Year 2022 holds some startling surprises related to fabrication of plutonium “pits” for nuclear warheads at the DOE’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The biggest shock in the budget request by DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration is that the total estimated cost of the SRS pit plant has soared to $11.1 billion, more than double the previous cost estimate of $4.6 billion (in the FY 21 budget request).
Thus, in a one-week period, the cost estimate of the SRS Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) has more than doubled in cost and the schedule for the facility’s initial operation has slipped up to five years. These troubling and potentially debilitating developments foreshadow problems to come to the challenging pit-production project, according to the public interest group Savannah River Site Watch.
The breath-taking $11.1 billion cost comes weeks before a key decision will be made on the planning for the facility, so-called “Critical-Decision-1.” That decision point will include a cost range for the PBP and the budget states that the $11.1 billion “value does not represent the CD-1 approved high end of the range.” (pages 220 and 225) Thus, an even higher figure can be expected to be reported in mid-June. DOE claims that better cost estimates will come with “CD-2/3 approval in FY23-24.” (page 211)
Given DOE’s extremely poor track record in managing complex and costly construction projects, as was seen with the MOX debacle, it is fully expected that the pit plant cost will increase over time and that the schedule for the project will continue to slip. The high cost of the SRS pit plant construction and operation will put extreme pressure on both the pit project and the new W87-1 nuclear warhead – atop the new, proposed Ground Based Strategic Deterrent missile – for which the first pits would be made, according to SRS Watch.Read More