News Release
Feb. 27, 2003

DUKE ENERGY BEGINS REGULATORY PROCESS TO USE MOX FUEL

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke Energy has begun the regulatory process to allow the corporation to place mixed oxide (MOX) fuel lead assemblies in one of its nuclear reactors. Today, Duke Energy submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asking for approval to use the lead assemblies.

 

MOX fuel is a mature technology in Europe where 35 reactors currently use the fuel to generate electricity. Applying the technology in the United States is a key element of the international program to dispose of surplus plutonium from nuclear weapons, and thereby reduce the risk of terrorist groups or rogue nations obtaining the material.

 

Duke Energy routinely conducts lead fuel assembly programs to support fuel design changes. “We plan to use four MOX fuel assemblies (out of 193 total fuel assemblies) in one of the McGuire or Catawba nuclear reactors beginning in 2005. This process is designed to confirm the acceptable fuel performance we have already seen in European reactors, and allow us to request regulatory approval for larger-scale use of MOX fuel beginning around 2008,” says Steve Nesbit, MOX fuel project manager.

 

MOX fuel is a blend of about 95 percent uranium oxide (conventional nuclear fuel) and about 5 percent plutonium oxide. The MOX fuel will be used alongside conventional low enriched uranium fuel, as has been the practice in European reactors for more than two decades. 

 

The MOX fuel program is part of an international initiative to reduce the stockpiles of weapon-grade plutonium in the United States and in Russia. The U.S. Department of Energy will convert 34 metric tons of plutonium from its weapons programs into nuclear fuel, while Russia does likewise with its own surplus plutonium. Duke Energy plans to use that MOX fuel at its McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville and its Catawba Nuclear Station in York, S.C.

 

“We are proud to be part of this program. In addition to supporting an important national security initiative, MOX fuel will provide McGuire and Catawba nuclear stations with a long-term, economical supply of nuclear fuel,” says Nesbit.

 

Duke Energy is a diversified multinational energy company with an integrated network of energy assets and expertise. The company manages a dynamic portfolio of natural gas and electric supply, delivery and trading businesses – meeting the energy needs of customers throughout North America and in key markets around the world. Duke Energy, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is a Fortune 500 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available on the Internet at: www.duke-energy.com.

 

Contact: Rose Cummings
Phone: 704/382-6681
24 Hour Phone: 704/382-8333
Email: rbcummin@duke-energy.com