Construction began Aug. 1 on the controversial Mixed–Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C. The $4.8–billion plant to convert weapons–grade plutonium into nuclear powerplant fuel is being built by a joint venture of Shaw Group Inc., Baton Rouge, and Cogema, an affiliate of Paris–based Areva. Completion is scheduled for April 2014. It will dispose of 34 tonnes of plutonium under international treaties.