U.S. Converts HEU to Nonweapon Fuel

The United States has converted 100 metric tons of its own highly enriched uranium into low-enriched nuclear fuel, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration announced last month (see GSN, April 25).

The surplus U.S. nuclear-weapon material eliminated over the last 10 years could have powered 2,200 nuclear bombs, the agency said.

"Eliminating 100 metric tons of highly enriched uranium -- enough for thousands of nuclear weapons -- ultimately prevents this material from ever again being used in a nuclear weapon," NNSA Deputy Administrator William Tobey said in a statement.  "Disposing of HEU is also a tangible demonstration of the U.S. commitment to draw down our nuclear arsenal in a transparent and irreversible manner."

The agency said the HEU disposition program helps to streamline and secure U.S. nuclear-weapon assets, making their maintenance less expensive.  The resulting nuclear fuel can also be sold for use in research reactors and nuclear power plants.

The United States has deemed 217 metric tons of highly enriched uranium unnecessary for national security needs and slated it for conversion to low-enriched uranium fuel.

The uranium is converted at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina (see GSN, Aug. 1) and the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee (see GSN, Aug. 21), as well as two private sites in Tennessee and Virginia (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration release, Aug. 25).

September 3, 2008
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The United States has converted 100 metric tons of its own highly enriched uranium into low-enriched nuclear fuel, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration announced last month (see GSN, April 25).