TVA won't use experimental fuel made from weapons grade plutonium... unless it's safe and cheaper.
That's the word from spokesman Ray Golden.
The Department of energy is building a plant in South Carolina to produce the so called "mixed oxide fuel"
But using MOX fuel is getting mixed reactions.
If it all goes according to Department of Energy plans... years from now TVA would use Mixed Oxide Fuel at the Sequoyah and Brown's Ferry Nuclear Plants, but only if its safe, cheaper for customers and approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The MOX fuel would be made out of plutonium from disposed nuclear weapons and uranium.
Ray Golden, TVA spokesman says, "We believe it will behave the same way. We believe that it will be safe but we want to study it more."
Golden and nuclear experts point out burning the plutonium in a nuclear reactor is the only way to permanently make sure it can no longer be used as a weapon.
But a watchdog group raises concerns...saying MOX is dangerous and expensive.
Tom Clements, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, "It cost far more than uranium fuel so the people that are advocating this program are really advocating spending much more of our tax payer money on a program that should not go forward that's why we're against the over all MOX program."
Dr. Howard Hall, UTK Professor, "It's certainly going to be expensive there's no two ways about it but how much more expensive if we lose control of that plutonium at some point in the future and we lose a city."
But with the pledge between Russia and the US to get rid of 34 metric tons of plutonium, enough to make 17 thousand nuclear weapons, there's one thing everyone can agree on.
Alex Woods, Chatt State Nuclear Studies Student, "It seems to me that the biggest issue is the existence of this grade plutonium. It's there and it's being stored right now. The worst thing we can do is nothing, so something has to be done."
Professor Hill with UTK says MOX fuel is already being used in nuclear reactors in other countries including Russia.