U.S. to Eliminate 12 Metric Tons of Highly Enriched Uranium

The United States has signed a $209 million deal for conversion of 12.1 metric tons of highly enriched uranium to low-enriched material, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration announced yesterday (see GSN, Sept. 3, 2008).

Contractors WesDyne International LLC and Nuclear Fuel Services Inc. are expected to generate roughly 220 metric tons of low-enriched uranium through the effort, which they would carry out at a facility in Erwin, Tenn. The companies would retain a portion of the material as payment, while the rest would be contributed to a project to convert weapon-grade uranium into mixed-oxide fuel for use in civilian nuclear reactors (see GSN, May 4).

Operations are scheduled to begin this year and to conclude in 2012.

“President [Barack] Obama has outlined a far-reaching commitment to renewing U.S. leadership in global nuclear nonproliferation efforts,” NNSA Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator Ken Baker said in a statement. “This contract to downblend 12 metric tons of surplus U.S. highly enriched uranium is a clear demonstration of our leadership of nuclear nonproliferation efforts and an important part of our effort to assure a fuel supply to utilities participating in the MOX program for the disposition of surplus weapons plutonium” (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration release, June 23).

June 24, 2009
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The United States has signed a $209 million deal for conversion of 12.1 metric tons of highly enriched uranium to low-enriched material, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration announced yesterday (see GSN, Sept. 3, 2008).