On Christmas eve's eve there's bad news from the Energy Department Inspector General (pdf) on its Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (or "MOX Facility") at the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Savannah River Site in Georgia. The key finding:
The cost of the MOX Facility will significantly exceed the amounts reported to Congress in 2002. As of July 2005, NNSA's unvalidated estimate for the design and construction of the MOX Facility was about $3.5 billion, which is $2.5 billion more than it had previously estimated. Further, as of July 2005, NNSA had spent $453 million – nearly half of the $1 billion design and construction budget – on just design activities and had only completed 70 percent of the design work.
The MOX Facility is intended to help the U.S. and Russia meet an agreement to dispose of 68 metric tons of surplus plutonium by turning it into a fuel for nuclear reactors.