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U.S. HEU Disposition Program Robert M. George Office of Fissile Materials Disposition International Nuclear Materials Management Annual Meeting July 2009 The U.S. HEU Disposition Program

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U.S. HEU Disposition ProgramRobert M. GeorgeOffice of Fissile Materials DispositionInternational Nuclear Materials Management Annual MeetingJuly 2009

the u s heu disposition program
The U.S. HEU Disposition Program
  • NNSA’s U.S. HEU Disposition Program is a key nonproliferation program that down-blends surplus HEU and uses the derived LEU in commercial and research reactors.
  • Commercial down-blend contractors include:
    • Babcock and Wilcox
    • Nuclear Fuel Services
  • Nuclear fuel fabricators have also been involved in down-blending projects – AREVA and WesDyne
heu disposition paths

1994 Surplus HEU Declaration — 174 MT (156 commercially usable + 18 discards)

Spent Fuel and Low Equity Discards

Reliable Fuel Supply

Uncom-mitted 1994 Material


USEC Transfer


TVA Off-Spec (BLEU) Material

Research Reactor Fuel Feed

~5 MT

14 MT

47 MT

51 MT

6 MT

17 MT

16 MT

18 MT

Disposal as waste

Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant

Babcock & Wilcox Nuclear Operations Div.


New 12 MT HEU Project—TBD

Savannah River Site and Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc.


Disposition Timing

Uncommitted 2005 Material


RRF Feed


In progress2009-2011

Not yet planned

Discards TBD

~7 MT*

~4 MT

~10 MT

~40 MT*

2005 Declaration — ~61 MT

* This ~51 MT of HEU is part of the 200 MT additional HEU removed from use as fissile material in weapons in Fall 2005; it consists of 20 MT designated for downblending plus an estimated 31 MT (out of 160 MT) that is expected to be rejected for use by Naval Reactors.

Revised 5/12/08

HEU Disposition Paths
usec heu transfer
USEC HEU Transfer
  • The USEC HEU Transfer project, mandated by the USEC Privatization Act, was completed during 2006.
  • The down-blending was completed at Babcock & Wilcox in Lynchburg, VA in June 2006.
  • A total of 46.6 MT HEU, at an average assay of 43.7%, was delivered and down-blended to make over 800 MT of commercial-grade LEU.
tva off spec bleu program

Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant

Lead assembly being inspected at TVA’s Sequoyah Plant

TVA Off-Spec “BLEU” Program
  • DOE and TVA entered an Interagency Agreement in 2001
    • With addition of EU Disposition Project material, it now covers ~45.6 MTU
    • TVA is using blended low-enriched uranium (BLEU) fuel in the Browns Ferry and Sequoyah Nuclear Plants.
  • Down-blending occurs at two facilities:
    • Savannah River Site, Aiken, SC – solutions, alloyed metals, oxides (~22.6 MTU)
    • Nuclear Fuel Services, Erwin, TN – uranium metal, alloyed metals, compounds (~ 23 MTU)
    • As of the end of June2009, 38 MTU has been down-blended
tva off spec program cont

Broken Button

TVA Off-Spec Program (Cont.)
  • BLEU project HEU shipments were completed in 2008
  • 40 MT Down-blending will be completed in fall of 2009 (~95% complete)
  • Additional down-blending of EU Disposition Project material will occur in 2009 & 2010
  • Savings to the U.S. Treasury are expected to be over $255 million.
  • This program has won many awards
    • 2003 Secretary of Energy’s Project Management Award – SRS Line Item
    • 2005 Platt’s Global Energy Engineering Project of the Year – BLEU/Off-Spec Partnership
    • 2006 NEI Top Industry Practice (TIP) award – BLEU Project
    • Several Other Internal TVA Awards
h canyon eu disposition project

Super Kukla Ring size reduction

H Canyon EU Disposition Project
  • NNSA has identified 20.8 MT of HEU that could result in up to 250 MT of additionaloff-spec LEU over the 2009 through 2020 time period.
  • The HEU would be recovered and

down-blended at SRS H Canyon


  • NNSA and TVA have agreed to

mutually beneficial terms to add

an initial 5.6 MT of the material

to the existing Interagency Agreement.

  • Incremental additions of the remaining material into the TVA Off-Spec Fuel Project may occur as funding becomes available.
reliable fuel supply initiative rfs
Reliable Fuel Supply Initiative (RFS)
  • Secretary Bodman announced the RFS initiative for foreign users who do not pursue enrichment and reprocessing at IAEA’s General Conference in September 2005.
  • 17.4 MT of HEU will be down-blended to produce about 290 MT LEU, a substantial majority of which will be used as a stockpile for the RFS program.
  • The RFS program will ensure that, in the event nuclear fuel is not available commercially, there will be reliable access to the market.

MTR Type Fuel Element

Cast Metal Slugs

rfs general status
RFS General Status
  • In June 2007, NNSA awarded a downblending and storage contract to the WesDyne / NFS team.
  • Through June 2009, NNSA has shipped over 15 MT of HEU for the RFS project.
  • Processing of the HEU began in March 2008 and through June 2009, over 5.6 MT has been down-blended to date.
  • The down-blending program will be completed in 2010.
12 1 mtu heu downblending project
12.1 MTU HEU Downblending Project
  • HEU will be down-blended during the 2009–2012 time period.
  • Project will provide total derived LEU of about 220 MTU
  • Inventory reserved for use by MOX project if needed.
  • Down-blending and storage contract awarded June 23 to WesDyne/NFS team.
foreign research reactor leu fuel
Foreign Research Reactor LEU Fuel

DOE/NNSA Supplies 80% of the world’s LEU research reactor fuel with down-blended HEU

  • Material is provided in support of the Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors (RERTR) program, which reduces civil uses of HEU worldwide.
  • U.S. surplus HEU (10 MT) is feed material to make LEU fuel (mostly 19.75% enrichment).
  • 2.9MT down-blended to date
  • Customers in Europe, Canada, Asia, South America, Australia

RA-6 Reactor, Bariloche, Argentina

CEA OSIRIS Reactor, France

what does the future hold
What Does the Future Hold?
  • The program has already committed to down-blending projects 161MT of the total 217 MT of surplus, commercially-usable HEU.
  • The remaining 56 MT is expected to become available for down-blending from now through 2050.
  • Future focus is:
    • Continue progress in down-blending HEU to meet nonproliferation objectives
    • Proper disposition of derived LEU in a manner that does not adversely impact the commercial nuclear fuel markets
    • Develop future projects from unallocated HEU inventories using a viable funding approach
final thoughts
Final thoughts
  • Through June 2009, this program has eliminated the proliferation risk of approximately 124 MTU of HEU, which equates to approximately 2,773 nuclear warheads.
  • Several DOE facilities have been able to eliminate or greatly reduce their holdings of HEU.
  • The LEU derived from down-blending the U.S. HEU equates to ~1,400 MTU.