HEU Commercial Down-blending -- A Non-Proliferation Winner!

Person, Gary A.; George, Robert
January 2010
Proceedings of the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management Ann;2010, p1
Conference Proceeding
Over the past decade, the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Surplus U.S. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Disposition Program has eliminated 118 metric tons of surplus U.S. weapons-usable HEU by down-blending it to low-enriched uranium (LEU) for use in power and research reactors in the United States and abroad. Two major projects underway to down-blend HEU for commercial power reactors are the Reliable Fuel Supply (RFS) Project and the Mixed Oxide (MOX) LEU Inventory Project. In 2007, NNSA awarded a prime contract to the team of WesDyne International and its subcontractor, Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS), to down-blend 17.4 metric tons of surplus HEU into reactor-grade LEU for use in the RFS Project. The intent of the RFS is to support U.S. Government efforts to ensure reliable access to nuclear fuel supplies for qualifying entities that face a disruption in supply that cannot be corrected through normal commercial means. This project is well underway with all HEU materials delivered and down-blending over 50% complete. In 2009, NNSA competitively bid and awarded a similar contract for down-blending services of 12.1 metric tons of surplus HEU. WesDyne and NFS were also selected for this contract which is intended to provide an LEU inventory for use by utilities participating in the NNSA MOX Fuel Program in the event of a fuel supply disruption. HEU deliveries on this contract are underway with over four MTU shipped and down-blending to begin in 2011. The down-blended product is being transported to the Westinghouse facility in Columbia, South Carolina, for exchange into UF6. It is then stored until required for use under the provisions established in the respective contracts. This paper will discuss the background, materials and their preparation for shipment, down-blending approach, and progress to date on these projects.


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