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Assessment of the Risks and Uncertainties in Eliminating Nuclear Material Stockpiles F. STEINH Ä USLER Div. of Physics and Biophysics University of Salzburg A 5020 Salzburg Austria Email: friedrich.steinhaeusler@sbg.ac.at Topics Source terms and policy issues The need to act

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assessment of the risks and uncertainties in eliminating nuclear material stockpiles

Assessment of the Risks and Uncertainties in Eliminating Nuclear Material Stockpiles

F. STEINHÄUSLER

Div. of Physics and Biophysics

University of Salzburg

A 5020 Salzburg

Austria

Email: friedrich.steinhaeusler@sbg.ac.at

topics
Topics
  • Source terms and policy issues
  • The need to act
  • Technical options
  • Security aspects
  • Conclusions & recommendations
sources of military heu and pu
SOURCES OF MILITARY HEU and Pu
  • Operational weapons
  • Weapon-grade material outside operational weapons
  • Fuel- and thermal-grade Pu in store
military inventory heu pu central estimate t in 2003 sipri
MILITARY INVENTORY: HEU/Pu(central estimate (t) in 2003, SIPRI)
  • US: 635/47.5
  • Russia: 470/100
  • UK:15/3.2
  • France: 24/5
  • China: 20/4
  • India: “little”/0.31
  • Pakistan: 0.69/0.005
  • Israel: ?/0.51
  • Total: 1 165/160

Production rate: up to 250 kg/GW(th), a

military declared surplus heu pu central estimate t in 2003 sipri
US: 174/52.5

Russia: 500/34

UK:0/4.4

France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel: 0/0

Total: 674/91

MILITARY DECLARED SURPLUS: HEU/Pu(central estimate (t) in 2003, SIPRI)
under iaea safeguards heu pu central estimate t in 2003 sipri
US: 10/2

Russia: 0/0

UK:0/0.1

France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel:0/0

Total: 10/2.1

UNDER IAEA SAFEGUARDS: HEU/Pu(central estimate (t) in 2003, SIPRI)
disposed heu pu central estimate t in 2003 sipri
Russia: 96/0

China, France, India, Pakistan,

Israel, UK, US: 0/0

Total: 96/0

DISPOSED: HEU/Pu(central estimate (t) in 2003, SIPRI)
civilian pu inventory
CIVILIAN Pu INVENTORY
  • In spent nuclear fuel
  • Separated in store
  • In fast-reactor fuel cycle
  • In thermal MOX fuel cycle
civilian pu production
Civilian Pu Production
  • Typical annual Pu production rate in nuclear power reactors: 180 kg /GW(e)
  • Civilian facilities in UK and France can reprocess fuel elements of all nuclear power plants in EU and Japan

6-10 kg Pu/t of spent fuel

civilian ownership heu pu central estimate t in 2003 sipri
US: 5-10/4-5

Russia: …/30.3

UK: ca. 4/59.8

France: ca. 5/40.3

China: …/0

India: …/0.7

Pakistan: …/-

Israel: …/-

Others: …/59.4

Total:

16-22/195

CIVILIAN OWNERSHIP:HEU/Pu(central estimate (t) in 2003, SIPRI)
weapon usability of reactor pu
Weapon-usability ofReactor Pu*

- Higher rate of spontaneous fission

- Increased heat production

- Higher probability for pre-detonation

explosive yield: 1 to several kt **

* E. Kankeleit, C. Kuppers, U. Imkeller, Report on the weapon-usability of reactor plutonium, IANUS-Arbeitsbericht 1/1989

** Compacting speed of 2-4 km/s

theft of separated pu whether weapons grade or reactor grade is a major security risk

Theft of separated Pu, whether weapons-grade or reactor-grade, is a major security risk

US National Academy of Sciences,

Management and Disposition of Excess Plutonium,

Vol. 1+2, National Academy Press,

Washington, D.C.,

1994 and 1995

inadequate protection
Inadequate protection

States can no longer claim to be able to protect 100% military nuclear material stockpiles:

  • US: Force-on-Force exercises (>50% success rate)
  • FSU: several hundred illicit trafficking incidents since 1991 (at least 27 cases involving weapons-usable fissile material)
vulnerability of us doe pu storage sites
Vulnerability of US DOE Pu Storage Sites*
  • Interim Pu storage (26 t) for 10 to 20 a
  • Pu stored in 166 facilities at 35 sites** 299 vulnerabilities identified at 13 sites:

Inadequate facility conditions

Incomplete safety analysis

Degradation of Pu packaging, etc.

*Related to safety, environment and health (Nov. 1994)

**Excluding Pantex Plant, Texas

imperfect state security networks
Imperfect state security networks

States cannot rely exclusively on less than perfect state security networks to protect military and civilian Pu stockpiles:

  • Corruption of security forces, customs and politicians (www.transparency.org)
  • Politically/religiously/financially motivated insider threat (extremism, blackmail)
  • Criminal nuclear supply networks (Pakistan-Malaysia-Libya)
personnel performance and misuse of new equipment at russian nuclear facilities
Personnel performance and misuse of new equipment* at Russian nuclear facilities

9 sites investigated; three of them had inter alia the following deficiencies:

  • Gate to central facility left open and unattended
  • Nuclear material portal monitor not operational
  • No access control at nuclear material storage site

* Security-related activities, February 2001

personnel performance and misuse of new equipment at russian nuclear facilities20
Personnel performance and misuse of new equipment* at Russian nuclear facilities
  • No response when metal detector was set off upon entry
  • Wide spread drug and alcohol related problems

* Security-related activities, February 2001

potential for political instability
Potential for political instability
  • Internal political stability of nuclear weapon states is not guaranteed (Pakistan?)
  • Act of despair: deployment of nuclear weapon as the last resort (Israel?)
strong man policy
Strong Man Policy

Failed international crisis management, using the Strong Man-Global Policeman Policy, e.g., identification ofanexternal enemy, who will be threatened or contained with a nuclear weapon (DOD Nuclear Posture Review*)

*US Strategic Nuclear Forces (2003):

14 Trident Submarines, 450 Minuteman III ICBM,

66 B-52H bombers, 20 B-2 Stealth bombers

disposition programme short term objectives
Disposition Programme: Short-term Objectives
  • Make it harder for individuals to steal the material
  • Increase the difficulty for rogue nations and terrorists to reuse the material
disposition programme long term objectives
Disposition Programme: Long-term Objectives
  • Prevent contamination of the environment and uncontrolled radiation exposure of man
  • Signal to others that there is a path to the irreversible reduction of materials stockpiled
  • Progress towards nuclear arms reduction
disposition principle e g for surplus weapon grade pu

Disposition Principle(e.g., for surplus weapon-grade Pu) :

Create a substantial barrier to the recovery of the nuclear material

weapon grade pu
Pu 238: 0.01

Pu 239: 93.80

Pu 240: 5.80

Pu 241: 0.13

Pu 242: 0.02

Am 241: 0.22

*Age: 20 years

in percent (by weight)

Weapon-grade Pu *
4 theoretical disposition options only 2 realistic choices
4 Theoretical Disposition Options, only 2 Realistic Choices

1. Pu dilution in oceans (environmental risk?)

2. Pu transport into space (risk of major accident?)

3. Immobilization of Pu

4. Reactor/accelerator methods using Pu

17 evaluation criteria
1. Operational time scale

2. Material throughput

3. Physical security

4. Self-protection

5. Long-term stability

6. Criticality issues

7. Safeguards & Proliferation resistance

8. Suitability for final depository

9. State of development

17 Evaluation criteria:
17 evaluation criteria30
10.Costs for start up

11. Costs for routine operation

12. Long-term neutron stability

13. Long-term chemical durability

14. Environmental impact

15. Local acceptance

16. National acceptance

17. International acceptance

17 Evaluation criteria:
example for open issues proliferation resistance
Example for Open Issues: Proliferation Resistance
  • Are all the technical methods deployed proliferation resistant?
  • Does the method allow the pursuit of weapon-relevant technology options?
  • Is it possible to covertly divert nuclear material?
example for open issues operational time scale
Example for Open Issues: Operational time scale
  • How long does the Pu have to remain in an interim storage area?
  • When will the industrial-scale version of the disposition method be available?
  • What is the time period required to totally eliminate Pu?
example for open issues costs
Example for Open Issues: Costs
  • Costs for R & D?
  • Investment costs for constructing the facilities in US/Russia/EU?
  • Operational costs of facility?
  • Costs for final deposition of resulting waste products?
immobilization technologies
Direct glass vitrification

Direct ceramic vitrification

Can-in-canister vitrification

Geologic disposal

Electro-metallurgical treatment

Immobilization technologies
direct glass vitrification principle
Direct glass vitrification:Principle
  • Pu and n-absorbing material*, mixed with molten glass** and high level radwaste
  • Pu concentration: about 5 to 8% (by weight)
  • Cooled into large logs (weight: 2 t; height: 3 m)
  • Large base of experience for industrial scale vitrification (B, F, UK since 1986 or longer)
  • *e.g., gadolinium ** lanthanide borosilicate
direct glass vitrification open technical issues
Direct glass vitrification:Open technical issues
  • Optimal glass formulation for not immobilized Pu?
  • Optimal level of solubility of Pu in glass?
  • Prevention of accumulation of critical mass in processing equipment?
  • Solubility of n absorber potentially higher than that of Pu, i.e., criticality possible after 10³ years?
direct glass vitrification open technical issues38
Direct glass vitrification:Open technical issues
  • Radiation creates helium and oxygen bubbles in glass, increasing the volume: impact of additional cracks?
  • There is no natural analog of glass containing alpha-emitters: long-term material behavior expose to internal alpha radiation exposure?
direct glass vitrification open security issues
Direct glass vitrification:Open security issues

Is subsequent Pu recovery from glass feasible?

  • Ground glass, dissolve in nitric acid, remove Pu (PUREX process)
  • Bench-top solvent removal process extracts about 25% of Pu analog from a glass host

Covert operation requires little additional equipment, no obvious new activity noticeable

direct ceramic vitrification principle
Direct ceramic vitrification:Principle
  • Pu and n-absorber mixed in ceramic material with high level radwaste
  • Pu concentraion: <10% (by weight)
  • Radioactive ceramic material placed inside steel canister
  • Limited large-scale industrial experience
direct ceramic vitrification open technical and security issues
Direct ceramic vitrification:Open technical and security issues

Remaining technical and security issues:

Similar to glass vitrification

can in canister vitrification principle
Can-in-canister vitrification:Principle
  • Pu and n-absorbing material mixed with molten glass or ceramic material in steel cans (2.5 kg of Pu/can)
  • 20 stainless steel cans loaded onto a rack within a larger steel canister(3 m long)
  • Filled with molten, glassified high level radwaste from reprocessing
  • Cooled (weight: 2 t)
can in canister vitrification open technical and security issues
Can-in-canister vitrification:Open technical and security issues
  • Technical issues: similar to glass vitrification
  • Security issues:

- 1 spent fuel assembly from BWR/PWR:

1.5/4.2 kg Pu

- 1 canister (20 cans): 12.5 kg Pu*

canister contains 400% more Pu than spent fuel assembly

* Equivalent to 3 nuclear weapon pits

geologic disposal principle
Geologic Disposal:Principle
  • Deep borehole (several km)
  • Enclose Pu or Pu mixed with high level radwaste within physical barrier (e.g., glass, ceramics)
  • Transport enclosed pure Pu or mixture to borehole
  • Close borehole to (a) minimize direct access; (b) allow defined access at a later stage
geologic disposal open technical and security issues
Geologic Disposal:Open technical and security issues
  • Pu leaching models: Pu solubility is low (10E-8 g/cm³) and glass surface area increases by a factor of 5 due to fracturing
  • Fracturing due to quenching 10 times higher?*
  • Does crack growth continue throughout lifetime of glass(water, tectonic stress)?
  • Intentional “Pu Mining” desirable at a later stage?

*B. Grambow (Materials Research Soc. Symp. Proc. 333, 167-180 (1994)

electrometallurgical treatment principle
Electrometallurgical treatment:Principle
  • Pu mixed with monolithic mineral form
  • Result: glass-bonded zeolite (GBZ)
electrometallurgical treatment open technical and security issues
Electrometallurgical treatment:Open Technical and Security Issues
  • Less technically mature than other disposition methods
  • Several key steps not demonstrated yet at industrial scale
  • Political concerns due to its similarity to nuclear fuel reprocessing
transmutation principle
Transmutation:Principle
  • Origin: in the 1970’s
  • Concept: using high n fluxes, long-lived isotopes, particularly transuranics, can be transmuted
  • Product: stable or relatively short-lived radioactive substances
transmutation open technical and security issues
Transmutation:Open technical and security issues
  • High energy linear accelerator needed (p(GeV)
  • High n flux required (>10E16 n/cm²,s) over Pb or Bi spallation target
  • High R&D risk:

accelerator technology

chemical separation methods

transmutation open technical and security issues51
Transmutation:Open technical and security issues
  • High energy consumption
  • Low throughput
  • High cost
  • Radioactive waste unavoidable
  • Dual use option (Pu disposition + Tritium production)
  • Lack of industrial scale demonstration
mixed oxide fuel mox principle
Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX ):Principle

Large industrial facility needed for multi-stage MOX fuel production:

  • metal Pu converted into Pu oxide powder
  • grinding & mixing with U
  • sieving/sintering/cutting/polishing into pellets
  • pellets filled into fuel elements
mixed oxide fuel mox principle53
Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX ):Principle
  • Mixture of natural U with Pu-Oxide, irradiated as fuel in commercial reactors
  • MOX suitable reactors in Europe: F(20), D(12), CH(3), B(2)
mixed oxide fuel mox open technical and security issues
Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX ): Open technical and security issues
  • MOX fuel in fast breeder: 15-35% Pu
  • MOX fuel in LWR: 3-5% Pu
  • 1 GW(e): 25-30 t MOX fuel/a
  • 1 Reactor: only 1.2 to 1.5 t of Pu/a

to meet schedule:

full MOX core is needed

mixed oxide fuel mox open technical and security issues55
Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX):Open technical and security issues

“Full core MOX operation”:

  • difficult reactor safety controls
  • safe and secure management of MOX fuel over period of decades?
mixed oxide fuel mox open technical and security issues56
Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX):Open technical and security issues
  • Once disposition campaign completed: still 15 to 25 a remaining lifetime of facility left: MOX as the precursor for a Pu fuel cycle?
  • Use of military Pu in commercial reactors: undermining nonproliferation interests?
  • Use of MOX facility for fuel production of military reactors?
mixed oxide fuel mox open technical and security issues57
Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX):Open technical and security issues

Utilities expect higher operating costs:

  • Higher in-core n production rates*
  • Higher heat output*
  • Difficulties of using and storing MOX

What incentives fees to be paid to utilities?

* Compared to ordinary reactor fuel

diversion due to measurement uncertainties
Diversion due to measurement uncertainties?

MUF at nuclear material processing site:

  • Plant holdup (tanks, pipes, drains, etc.)
  • Wide variations of material matrix
  • Statistical variations
  • Accidental spills
  • Recording, reporting, rounding errors
  • Honey pot syndrome
uncertainties fraud
Uncertainties/Fraud

Nuclear material storage site:

  • Statistical uncertainty of measurement during non-destructive testing of container content
  • Covert faking of “intact”container seals
  • Checking of container presence only (without verifying content)
us cumulative pu inventory difference 1944 1994 in kg
Hanford: + 1 266

Argonne West: -3.4

Lawrence L.: +5.5

Idaho NE: -5.6

+ = decrease from book inventory

Rocky Fl.: + 1 192

Los Alamos: +48

Savannah R.: + 232

Other sites: + 17

- = increase from book inventory

US Cumulative Pu Inventory Difference (1944-1994) in kg

Total Difference: 2 800 kg

DOE Openness Conference, Sept. 30, 1994

security risks during transport
Security Risks during Transport
  • Transport = moving target is generally at higher security risk than stationary target
  • Rail/road transport: 4 highly damaging attack modes possible*
  • Sea transport: continuous navy escort required

* NATO Expert Group “Terrorist attacks on nuclear power plants and nuclear material transports”, Rep. SST.CLG.978964(July 2004)

countering transport security risks
Countering Transport Security Risks
  • Specially designed Super-containers necessaryfor transport of nuclear warheads
  • Kevlar-based blankets needed to protect containers with dismantled nuclear weapon components
  • Heavy-duty manipulators required for remote handling of nuclear warheads
spent fuel standard sfs adequate security
Spent Fuel Standard (SFS): adequate security?
  • Radiation barrier decays with t½ ~ 30 a: minimal deterrent after 300 a (Pu mining)
  • Cans embedded in radioactive glass or ceramic: technically feasible to remove cans from external radiation barrier (re-start of reprocessing)
  • Suicide terrorist not incapacitated (max. -radiation dose rate 6 Sv/20 min)
comparative assessment of pu elimination methods 1
Comparative assessment of Pu elimination methods (1)
  • MOX fuel, vitrification and geologic depository can only delay reprocessing
  • MOX will require about 250 a of reactor operation/100 t Pu
  • MOX require the operation of many installations (= extensive transport of Pu-fuel and radwaste)
comparative assessment of pu elimination methods 2
Comparative assessment of Pu elimination methods (2)
  • Pu storage in deep boreholes requires minimum operations, easy to supervise (e.g., CCTV + satellite)
  • Vitrification: simultaneous elimination of high level radwaste and Pu
comparative assessment of pu elimination methods 3
Comparative assessment of Pu elimination methods (3)
  • Irreversible Pu destruction only by transmutation
  • Supervision of spallation units depends on design (e.g., operation as dual use facility feasible)
  • Transmutation requires assurance of proliferation resistance
  • Transmutation requires the operation of many installations (= extensive transport)
comparative assessment of pu elimination methods 4
Comparative assessment of Pu elimination methods (4)
  • R&D requirements:

minimum – Pu storage in deep boreholes

maximum – transmutation

  • Cost estimates (for elimination of 400 t Pu):*

vitrification/borehole – EURO 2-7 billion

transmutation – EURO 70 billion

* for comparison: total cost US nuclear weapon development programme: EURO 3 000 billion

comparative assessment of pu elimination methods 5
Comparative assessment of Pu elimination methods (5)
  • Can-in-canister: shortest start-up and completion time of all Pu disposition methods*: 7a, resp. 18 a**
  • MOX implementation: 25 – 30 a ***

*except deep borehole storage

**assumption: 5 t Pu/a

*** assuming European MOX facilities as interim solution

comparative assessment of pu elimination methods 6
Comparative assessment of Pu elimination methods (6)

SYNROC is superior to glass vitrification:

  • chemical stability
  • n stability
  • resistance to Pu recovery
recommendations
Recommendations

1. There is no single, perfect method of eliminating nuclear material stockpiles: each method has its pros and cons

2. Overall immobilization is superior to reactor/accelerator approach:

  • Nonproliferation
  • Timing
  • Cost
  • Security
recommendations73
Recommendations

3. Establish an international register of inventories and production capabilities for all relevant nuclear materials

4. Demand detailed material balances

5. End discrimination between military and civilian Pu stockpiles

recommendations74
Recommendations

6. Strengthen the existing international monitoring system:

  • Kr 85 monitoring
  • Tagging techniques
  • Tamper-proof seals
excess weapon grade pu poses a clear and present danger to national and international security

Excess weapon grade Pu poses a clear and present danger to national and international security

US National Academy of Sciences,

Management and Disposition of Excess Plutonium,

Vol. 1+2, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.,

1994 and 1995

joschka fischer minister of foreign affairs germany sept 1 2000

The fate of the Russian 130 to 160 t of Pu is not only of interest with regard to disarmament, but represents a global interest in survival, which requires from us solutions, or at least a minimization of risks.

Joschka FISCHER,

Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Germany,

Sept. 1, 2000

slide77

Famous last words...

Benefits of Pu disposition programmes should not be exaggerated:

  • US and Russia can reconstitute Cold War sized arsenals with remaining, non-surplus Pu stocks
  • Disposition is only an important first step toward a more comprehensive campaign
nuclear energy institute march 11 1998

Governmental leadership is needed in bringing together the non-proliferation community, industrial participants and the public on a common agenda to rid the world of surplus weapons material as soon as possible.

Nuclear Energy Institute,

March 11, 1998