US Nuclear Fuel Cycle
(Updated April 2013)
- The USA is expanding its nuclear fuel production capacity with up to three new enrichment plants likely to begin operation before 2020.
- Currently, almost all the uranium used in US commercial reactors is imported, with about half of it coming from Russian weapons-grade uranium downblended to low enriched uranium in Russia. After reaching a peak in 1980, domestic mining now accounts for only 5% of the fuel used in US reactors.
- Between 1977 and 2005, government policy did not allow reprocessing of used fuel for commercial reactors. However, R&D in advanced fuel technology and advanced reactors to recover the energy value of used fuel and reduce the volume of nuclear waste has since been resumed.
Uranium resources and mining
The USA ranks ninth in the world for known uranium resources in the category up to $130/kgU ($50/lb U3O8), with 207,400 tU (reasonably assured resources, 2011).
In the 1950s, the USA had a great deal of uranium mining, promoted by federal subsidies. Peak production since 1970 was 16,800 tU in 1980, when there were over 250 mines in operation. This abruptly dropped to 50 in 1984 when 5,700 tU was produced, and then there was steady decline to 2003, by which time there were only two small operations producing a total of under 1,000 tU/y, or about 5% of the uranium consumed by US nuclear plants. So, for the first step in the nuclear fuel cycle, the US must rely on imports of uranium from countries such as Canada and Australia, or downblended weapons-grade uranium from Russia (see section on Military surplus and other government stocks below).
As the price of uranium has increased in recent years, there has been a revival in exploration and plans to reopen old mines. Exploration expenditure increased over 2007-08 to $50.3 million, but has dropped since. A number of companies announced plans to refurbish and restart mines in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. There are now operating mines in Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming (see US Nuclear Fuel Cycle Appendix 1: US Uranium Mining and Exploration).
Most US production has been from New Mexico and Wyoming. Some 40% of resources are in New Mexico and amenable to ISL recovery. Resources on the western Colorado Plateau require conventional mining and milling, as does high-grade breccia pipe mineralisation in northwest Arizona. Smaller resources are in Utah, Nebraska and Texas. Production potential is about 50% underground mining, 26% open pit and 24% in situ leach (ISL).
Uranium was produced from one mill (White Mesa, Utah) and five ISL operations in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, Rosita became a sixth ISL production site before being shut down, and a total of ten underground mines (four more than during 2007) produced uranium. Production has remained at about the same level since 2006.1
US Uranium Production, tonnes
In mid-2009, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a generic environmental impact statement (EIS) on ISL (or in situ recovery, ISR) mining in the western USA. This will streamline but not eliminate the requirement for a supplementary EIS for each new mine. The NRC expects 17 applications for ISL facilities in the next couple of years, with each taking two years to process, including public participation.
Details of US uranium mining are in US Nuclear Fuel Cycle Appendix 1: US Uranium Mining and Exploration.
The large Honeywell Metropolis Works plant (MTW) in southern Illinois converts uranium oxide, U3O8, to uranium hexafluoride, UF6, which then goes to USEC's Paducah enrichment operation just across the Ohio River as well as to customers abroad.
Metropolis is the only conversion plant in the USA.
The facility was built in the 1950s under government contract to meet military
conversion requirements, and began providing UF6 for civilian use in the late 1960s. Capacity
has expanded from 9,000 tU as UF6
per year to 17,600 tU as UF6
today, and is expected to increase to 23,000 tU by 2020.a The next level of planned expansion is to 18,000
tU as UF6 by 2012, depending on
market conditions. Over May 2012 to June 2013 the plant is shut down for
upgrading, following an NRC order.
ConverDyn, a partnership between affiliates of
Honeywell and General Atomics, is the exclusive agent for conversion sales from
Deconversion of the depleted uranium (DU) that
remains as a byproduct after enrichment has not so far been undertaken on a
large scale in the USA,and in fact for legal reasons DU is, in the USA,
sometimes considered as a 'waste'. There are over 700,000 tonnes of DU
hexafluoride in USA.
Uranium Disposition Services LLC (UDS), a joint
venture of Areva, EnergySolutions, and Burns & Roe, was awarded a $558
million contract by the DOE in 2002 to design and build deconversion plants at
Portsmouth, Ohio and Paducah, Kentucky. The contract ran to August 2010. The
plants use a process developed by Areva which it employs at Richland, Washington
and Lingen, Germany. The 13,500 t/yr Portsmouth plant was completed in mid-2010
and the 18,000 t/yr Paducah one in 2011. Both were undergoing operational
testing and reviews by EnergySolutions as managing partner. At Portsmouth about
250,000 t depleted UF6 is stored,
with another 75,000 t shipped from Oak Ridge, and at Paducah some 440,000 t
depleted UF6 is stored. Aqueous HF
will be a commercial by-product.
Then Babcock & Wilcox Conversion Services won a five-year $428 million
contract from DOE in December 2010 for uranium deconversion operations at both
Portsmouth and Paducah, using these UDS plants. B&W Conversion Services is a
joint venture of B&W Technical Services Group and URS set up in 2011 to
operate the two DOE deconversion plants. B&W is majority partner.
In December 2009, International
Isotopes (INIS) subsidiary Fluorine Products Inc applied for a licence to
build and operate a 6,500 t/y deconversion plant and fluorine extraction
facility near Hobbes, New Mexico, 50 km from the Urenco USA enrichment plant at
Eunice. In April 2010, INIS signed a five-year agreement to provide toll
deconversion services for DU tails from Urenco, from 2014. In October 2012 the
NRC issued a licence to build and operate the plant.
INIS hopes to start production in 2014, subject to
raising $75 million capital. Initial capacity is for about 300 cylinders,
containing 3600 tonnes of UF6 per
year, increasing to about 575 (6950 t) in 2016. Some 1,300 to 2,300 tonnes of
anhydrous hydrofluoric acid (HF) with 450 tonnes of fluoride gas will be
produced per year for sale by INIS, and the depleted uranium belonging to the
enrichment companies will be stored as more stable U3O8. In-mid 2010, the first part of a $65 million
loan guarantee application by INIS was approved by the US Department of Energy
(DOE), and the company has been invited to submit the second part of its
Preceding this proposal an agreement was signed in
2005 between LES and Areva to make use of the latter's technology in
deconverting LES' DU tails. Areva NC has operated a small deconversion plant in
association with its Richland fuel fabrication plant in Washington state.
The USA currently has one new enrichment plant
operated by Urenco, and one historic one, USEC's Paducah, Kentucky facility
built by the government in the early 1950s to provide fuel for military
reactors. Two new enrichment plants, being built by other companies, are
expected to begin operation before 2020. In addition, USEC had started building
its own enrichment plant, the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio, which
had been due to begin operation in 2010, but the project was put on hold in July
Paducah old plant
This is the last gaseous diffusion plant still operating in the world, and was commissioned in 1952 for military
use. It began providing enriched uranium for civilian reactors in the 1960s.
Originally government-owned, USEC became a private sector corporation in 1998,
and leased its two large enrichment plants from the DOE. In 2001, it
consolidated its enrichment operations at the Paducah site after closing the
older Portsmouth facility at Piketon, Ohiob. Both plants were
very energy-intensive and costly to run
The Paducah plant has a capacity of 8 million
SWU/yr, compared with the 12.7 million SWU/yr required by the 104 operational US
reactors. It is expected to close down once the new US capacity comes on line.
Its final role is under a complex May 2012 agreement where USEC is to enrich
about 9000 tonnes of DOE high-assay depleted uranium tails at Paducah to provide
about 480 tonnes of low-enriched uranium for two US utilities – TVA and Energy
Northwest. With other work, this will require about 5 million SWU and will
extend USEC’s electricity supply agreement with TVA for about a year. The
Paducah plant is expected to close in May 2013 after more than 60 years
Currently USEC is the agent for supply to USA of
blended-down Russian uranium from weapons stockpiles (see later section). This
arrangement, supplying about half US demand, finishes in 2013. USEC in March
2011 signed a further contract with Tenex for supply of low-enriched uranium
from 2013 to 2022, ramping up to about half of present levels from Russia, with
option to match present levels. The new supplies will come from mined uranium
enriched in Russia, rather than recycled weapons. A renewed supply of Russian
uranium to USA is not unexpected, but the particular arrangement suggests a
fallback plan in the event that USEC's new American Centrifuge Plant (see below)
does not come up to expectations, though most of the new supply is directed at
USEC customers outside the USA. USEC says the contract is complementary to its
"ongoing efforts to deploy the American Centrifuge Plant". However, when
approved, it will lead to a feasibility study on deploying Russian centrifuge
enrichment technology in the USA.
From 2009, Russia’s Tenex has signed a number of contracts with US utilities to supply enrichment services and enriched uranium product. To mid-2010 the contracts totaled some $3 billion, covering supplies to 2020.
This Russian supply is in addition to that of 4.4% low-enriched uranium supplied through USEC having been blended down from Russian weapons material (see section below on Military surplus and other government stocks). This supplies about half of US annual needs, and runs to 2013. From 2013 to 2022 a further contract covers the supply of 21 million SWU to USEC, worth $2.8 billion. USEC will purchase the SWU as LEU and a deliver a corresponding amount of natural uranium to Tenex.
Urenco USA (formerly National Enrichment Facility)
Urenco USA has a major centrifuge enrichment plant at Eunice, New Mexico. It uses 6th generation Urenco technology from Europe, and was planned by the Louisiana Energy Services (LES) partnership – comprising Urenco, Exelon, Duke Power, Entergy, and Westinghouse. Construction of the $1.5 billion plant was licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in mid-2006 when as agreed the three utilities then passed their share to Urenco, and the company is now a subsidiary of Urenco USA. Utility support for the venture – initially amounting to $3.15 billion in orders – was crucial in persuading the NRC that further US enrichment capacity was required beyond that provided and envisaged by USEC.
NRC approved commercial operation in mid-2010, with
phase 1 capacity of 1.6 million SWU/y (21 cascades of TC-12 centrifuges) being
reached in 2012. Phase 2 of 2.1 million
SWU/yr was inaugurated in August 2012 with the commissioning of the first new
type of centrifuge, and completion to 3.7 million SWU presently licensed
capacity is targeted for 2014. Capacity is in April 2013 was 3 million SWU/yr, as 13 more cascades were licensed to actually operate following NRC inspection.
The new plant is a major step forward in
underwriting new US nuclear generating capacity and in ensuring security of fuel
supply, with flexibility of operation enabling more energy input to produce more
fuel from the same natural uranium feed if required. Phase 3 plans would
increase the capacity to 5.7 million SWU/y over 2013-17, with total investment
reaching $4 billion. In November 2012 Urenco applied for a licence increase from
3.7 to 10 million SWU/yr, to allow for future commercial opportunities. A new
TC-21 centrifuge design with 60% greater capacity is being used in phases 2
&3. The incremental capacity will require NRC approval, and could possibly
be brought forward as other planned US capacity is delayed or aborted.
In November 2012 it was reported that Urenco had
approached Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) to invest in phase 2-3 of
the plant, and this would have strategic significance for Korea as it negotiates
renewal of its nuclear agreement with USA, which expires in 2014. Kepco
currently buys 2.9 million SWU/yr of enrichment services from several
Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility
In mid-2007, Areva announced that it proposed to build a 3.3 million SWU/yr $2 billion centrifuge plant in the USA to supply domestic enrichment services. It submitted a licence application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for this Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility in December 2008 and NRC issued the licence in October 2011. Construction was to commence in 2012 at Idaho Falls, near the Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory, and operation was envisaged early in 2014, ramping up to full capacity in 2018. Areva Enrichment Services LLC, the owner and operator, signed a procurement & construction contract with URS in February 2011. It would be similar to Areva's new French plant (Georges Besse II). In 2009, Areva notified a planned doubling in capacity to 6.6 million SWU/yr, with the first stage being 3.3 million SWU/yr. In May 2010, DOE granted it a $2 billion loan guarantee. However, in December 2011 Areva announced that it was putting the project on hold for about two years as it seeks an additional investor. Whether it proceeds in the near future without one is uncertain.
USEC American Centrifuge Plant
In April 2007, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensed construction and operation of USEC's American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio. The American Centrifuge technology has been developed over many years by USEC, based on work by the Department of Energy (DOE) in 1970s and 1980s. The plant is being constructed on the same Portsmouth site where the DOE's experimental plant operated in the 1980s, involving 1,300 centrifuges as the culmination of a very major R&D program. It is also the site of USEC's large Portsmouth diffusion plant which is now closed. The prototype lead cascade started operation in September 2007 and the test program with it to April 2010 refined the design of the AC100 centrifuge machines (which are much larger than the European Urenco centrifuges). An AC100 lead cascade started operation in March 2010 with "approximately two dozen" machines which USEC planned to increase to 40-50 in operation later in 2010. The original AC100 design was superseded in 2009 by the "value-engineered AC100 machine", or AC100 Mod 1, which is intended to be deployed in the commercial plant, and is expected to deliver 350 SWU/yr per machine. The most recent cost estimate was around $4.5 billion, excluding finance, and with the benefit of utilizing existing infrastructure. By the end of 2010, the company had spent $1.95 billion and required "additional capital beyond the $2 billion in Department of Energy loan guarantee program funding that it has applied for and USEC's internally generated cash flow." It said that another $2.8 billion was required going forward from "financial closing of a loan guarantee", initial commercial operations would be 24 months from then, and completion would be 36 months later.
The plant would use only 5% of the power per SWU of the old diffusion plant it replaces. The licence authorises 7 million SWU/yr enrichment up to 10% U-235, though normal levels today are only up to 5%, which is becoming a serious constraint as reactor fuel burnup increases. In March 2009, USEC said that it had commitments for $3.3 billion of services from ten customers including leading utilities in the USA, Europe and Asia, and amounting to more than half of the initial sales from the plant.
The full plant was expected to commence commercial operation by the end of first quarter 2010, and achieve full 3.8 million SWU annual capacity at the end of 2012. However, early in 2009 the whole project was slowed pending funding through the DOE loan guarantee program, and in July 2009 it was suspended due to the DOE refusing to award a $2 billion loan guarantee, and asking USEC to withdraw its application. USEC refused to do this, and early in 2010 said that completion of the project depended on "a timely commitment and funding for a loan guarantee from DOE". In July 2010, it resubmitted its loan guarantee application to the DOE, pointing out that $200 million commitment by Toshiba and Babcock & Wilcox in May 2010 to support the ACP also strengthened its credentials3. $75 million of this was paid in September 2010. In July 2011 the project awaited the second phase $50 million from Toshiba-B&W, which was conditional upon DOE committing "not less than $2 billion" in loan guarantee. USEC was then also in discussions with Japanese export credit agencies regarding financing $1 billion of the cost of completing the ACP beyond the loan guarantee amount. "However, USEC has no assurance that it will be successful in obtaining any or all of the financing it is seeking."
The schedule in February 2011 was: begin commercial operations in May 2014; reach 1 million SWU/yr capacity in August 2015; and achieve annual capacity of about 3.5 million SWU in September 2017. In June 2011 a power interruption led to the failure of some of the machines in the lead cascade, which cost $9.6 million. In March 2012 USEC said its immediate RD&D program, dependent on government funding after May, was to “support building, installing and operating a 120-machine cascade and related support systems that will be replicated in 96 identical cascades in a full commercial plant.” This demonstration cascade was completed in April 2013 and USEC expects it to be operational later in 2013. In June 2012 USEC reached agreement with DOE for a $350 million cooperative RD&D program 80% funded by DOE for this purpose. In March 2013 USEC said that the project was on track but would likely require about $1 billion more financing than earlier expected.
Global Laser Enrichment
In 2006 Silex Systems in Australia and GE Energy received US government approval for development in the USA of the third-generation SILEX (Separation of Isotopes by Laser Excitation) uranium enrichment process using laser technology. This approval cleared the way for development and eventual full commercial production under a licence agreement with Silex. GE (now GE-Hitachi, GEH) is funding the development and making a series of payments to Silex. It will then pay a royalty on revenues from commercial production. GE said that "commercialisation of the SILEX enrichment technology is a crucial part of GE's long-term growth strategy for the nuclear business." SILEX was rebadged as Global Laser Enrichment (GLE).
In October 2007, the two largest US nuclear utilities, Exelon and Entergy, signed letters of intent to contract for uranium enrichment services from GEH. The utilities may also provide GEH with support if needed for development of a commercial-scale GLE plant. In August 2010, Tennessee Valley Authority agreed to buy $400 million of enrichment services from GLE if the project proceeds.
GEH is now operating the GLE test loop at Global Nuclear Fuel's (GNF's) Wilmington, North Carolina fuel fabrication facility. [GNF is a partnership of GE, Toshiba, and Hitachi, while GLE comprises GE (51%), Hitachi (25%) and Cameco (24%).] In April 2010, GLE announced successful completion of the first phase of the test loop program and that technology validation would continue as designs for the commercial facility evolved and economic feasibility was verified. In 2013 further tests and ongoing activities aim to accumulate performance, operating reliability and life-time data on the technology, to assist the engineering design program for the first planned commercial production plant.
In mid-2009, GEH submitted the last part of its licence application for this GLE plant, which was expected to take the NRC 30 months to process. At the end of February 2012 NRC published a favourable environmental review of the project, and its safety evaluation found that its programs for the physical protection of special nuclear material and classified matter, material control and accounting provided an adequate basis for both safety and safeguards of facility operations. Following a July review by the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, a full licence to construct and operate a plant of up to 6 million SWU/yr at WIlmington was issued in September 2012. GLE will now decide in the light of commercial considerations on whether to proceed with a full-scale enrichment facility there. The project, enriching up to 8% U-235, could be operational in about two years, ramping up to annual capacity of 6 million separative work units (SWU) in the first stage, and double that in 2020.
Silex Systems reported in November 2012 that there was a proposal for GLE to
build an additional laser enrichment pant at Paducah, to enrich high-assay DU tails owned by
DOE. There is about 150,000 tonnes of these at Paducah and Portsmouth. In February 2013 GLE submitted a tentative proposal to DOE to establish a laser enrichment plant at Paducah.
The contract signed in March 2011 between Techsnabexport (Tenex) and USEC Inc. for the delivery of uranium enrichment services during 2013-2022 gave effect to a memorandum of January 2010 on the establishment of a joint venture in the USA to build a uranium enrichment plant based on Russian centrifuge technology. Tenex and USEC are undertaking a feasibility study on this, as a possible alternative to USEC American Centrifuge project. The main contract is for the supply of 21 million SWU to USEC over 2013-2022, worth $2.8 billion.
New US enrichment capacity
||Capacity (million SWU/yr)
||2010 planned, but now on hold
||3.0 then 6.6
||3.5 - 6.0
The USA has five fuel fabrication facilities to convert enriched uranium oxide into solid pellets for fuel rods. Areva, Westinghouse, Babcock & Wilcox and General Electric operate fabrication facilities in Virginia, Washington state, North Carolina and South Carolina.
In addition, Shaw-Areva MOX Services (30% Areva) is constructing a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility at the US Department of Energy's Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Under current plans, the plant, which will be owned by the government's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), will dispose of at least 34 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium and convert it into useable fuel. Construction of the $4.9 billion facility began in 2007, and it is due to start operation in October 2016 and produce the first MOX fuel in 2018. TVA is considering using the MOX fuel at its Browns Ferry and Sequoyah plants, moving up to possibly 40% core load. NNSA has said that it is considering options for a further 14.4 tones of surplus military plutonium, most of which could become MOX but with about 2 t going to geological disposal in New Mexico.
In 2009, Areva's 35-year-old Richland, Washington fuel fabrication plant was the first to receive a 40-year licence extension from the NRC.
In December 2010, Areva and Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel announced a 50-50 joint venture – US Nuclear Fuel – to manufacture APWR fuel at the Richland plant in Washington state.
Recycling reactor-grade plutonium in reactor fuel has been prevented by the banning of used fuel reprocessing (see below). However, Global Nuclear Fuels, a joint venture of General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi, is preparing for licensing and production of MOX fuel for use in commercial BWR reactors by 2026.
Military surplus and other government stocks
Almost half of the uranium used in US nuclear power plants currently comes from Russian weapons-grade military uranium, downblended in Russia. Under this program, by December 2011, 433 tonnes of high-enriched uranium (HEU) had been downblended into some 12,494 tonnes of low-enriched uranium (LEU) for reactor fuel, representing 77 million SWU of enrichment and over 17,300 warheads, at a cost of $6.5 billion (paid by electricity consumers). The program concludes in 2013, with 500 t HEU supplied for $8 billion.
On the US side, 174 tonnes of military high-enriched uranium has been declared to be surplus and available for civil power generation. A start has been made on downblending this by Nuclear Fuel Services in Tennessee, and the first fuel fabricated from it has been shipped to Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) power plants.
In 2005, the Department of Energy's (DOE's) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that it was committing 40 tonnes of off-specification HEU in the US to its Blended Low Enriched Uranium (BLEU) program, with the fuel produced going to TVA power plants.
In June 2007, the Department of Energy's (DOE's) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) awarded contracts to Wesdyne International and Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) to downblend 17.4 tonnes of HEU from dismantled warheads to yield about 290 tonnes of LEU, 230 t of which will be part of a new American Assured Fuel Supply (AFS) program.c In June 2009, NNSA awarded a further contract ($209 million) to NFS and Wesdyne for 12.1 tonnes of HEU, which will yield some 220 tonnes of LEU by 2012. This batch of LEU is to provide fuel supply assurance for utilities which participate in the DOE's mixed-oxide fuel program utilising surplus plutonium from US weapons. To cover the cost of the project, Wesdyne will sell a small part of the LEU (about 60 t) on the market over a three- to four-year period. (The scheme is consistent with international concerns to limit the spread of enrichment technology to countries without well-established nuclear fuel cycles. Russia has agreed to join the initiative.)
In March 2008, the DOE announced a policy for dealing with uranium which was surplus to defence needs. The inventory, totaling nearly 59,000 tonnes of natural uranium equivalent, was as follows:
||Natural U equivalent
|US high-enriched U from unwanted weapons
|US natural U
||Natural U as UF6
|Russian natural U*
||Natural U as UF6
|Off-spec non UF6
||DU / Natural U / LEU
|Depleted U > 0.35% U from historic DOE enrichment
* Natural uranium exchanged under the 1993 agreement whereby Russian blended-down uranium is supplied to US utilities – effectively Russian-origin stocks
The DOE plan shows a total of 22,700 tonnes of its uranium entering global markets before the end of FY2017, but with no more than 10% of US annual requirements being delivered to the market in any one year – apart from an allocation for the first cores of newly built US reactors.d In 2009 the DOE is reported to have transferred about 617 t to the market, and in 2010 it planned to transfer up to 1337 t of excess uranium to the domestic market, including that which will go to USEC in payment for the clean-up of the Portsmouth enrichment plant. In 2011 DOE announced the sale of up to 1605 tU per year (natural uranium) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 for this purpose - about 8% of US demand.
The stock of natural UF6 could provide 1927 tU/yr for 7.5 years. After that, re-enrich the 73,500 tU in tails (av 0.375%) from the US stock of 464,000 tU in DUF6 (including 295,000 tU at Paducah). The natural U value produced (@ $50/lb) is $3.4 billion, and it needs 14.7 million SWU to reduce it to 0.20%.
See also information page on Military Warheads as a Source of Nuclear Fuel.
In addition to the HEU surplus, the US government has declared 61.5 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium to be excess to the needs of the US defence program. Of this, the government agreed under the 2000 US-Russia Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement to dispose of 34 tonnes by 2014, incorporating it (with depleted uranium) into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel.
Construction of a MOX fuel fabrication plant at the DOE Savannah River site in South Carolina was authorised by NRC early in 2005 and began in August 2007 when funding became available. The MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) is being built by Shaw Areva MOX Services under a $2.7 billion contract to the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which will own the plant. (Most MOX plants use fresh reactor-grade plutonium comprising about one-third non-fissile plutonium isotopes; this uses weapons plutonium with more than 90% fissile isotopes.) The plant is expected to be in operation in 2016, eventually producing 1,700 MOX fuel assemblies from the 34 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium – or more, should the government decide to dispose of some or all of the balance of the 61.5 tonnes surplus plutonium in this way.
In February 2010, the NNSA signed an agreement with TVA to evaluate the use of this MOX in its Sequoyah and Browns Ferry power plants.
Duke Energy has used four mixed oxide test fuel assemblies incorporating this weapons-grade plutonium (fabricated in France) at its Catawba 1 nuclear power reactor. This was to prepare for possible use of MOX for 20-40% of the cores of the Catawba and McGuire reactors from about 2010, using the fuel fabricated at MFFF.
Weapons-grade plutonium in MOX test assemblies has been burned at the Saxton prototype reactor in the mid-1960s, and some MOX was burned in other US plants before 1977.
See also information page on Military Warheads as a Source of Nuclear Fuel and re plutonium, under Non-proliferation in the US Nuclear Power Policy paper.
Using enrichment tails
The US government owns some 700,000 tonnes of depleted uranium tails from past enrichment. In 2005 a pilot program treated over 8000 tonnes of these.
In 2011 ConverDyn and Urenco USA formed a partnership to offer its services to DOE in utilizing more of these DU tails. The Competitive American Tails Upgrade Partnership (CATUP) will use the two companies' conversion and enrichment facilities in conjunction with its own natural uranium inventories to provide low-enriched uranium to the market while reducing the DU stockpile. CATUP's natural uranium concentrates would be converted to UF6 at ConverDyn's plant and exchanged for depleted UF6 from the DOE stockpile. This would then be cleaned up by CATUP, enriched by Urenco and sold.
Reprocessing used fuel
In 1977, the US government called a halt to the reprocessing of used fuel from commercial reactors as part of its stance against nuclear proliferation. The country has some experience with reprocessing oxide fuels as part of its military program, and has also built three civil reprocessing plants. The first, a 300 t/y plant at West Valley, New York, was operated successfully from 1966-72. However, escalating regulation required plant modifications which were deemed uneconomic, and the plant was shut down. The second was a 300 t/y plant built at Morris, Illinois, incorporating new technology which, although proven on a pilot-scale, failed to work successfully in the production plant. It was declared inoperable in 1974. The third was a 1500 t/y plant at Barnwell, South Carolina was built but not commissioned due to the changed government policy. It is now demolished. In all, the USA has over 250 plant-years of reprocessing operational experience, the vast majority being at government-operated defence plants.
One of these is the H-Canyon plante at the DOE Savannah River site in South Carolina. This facility is the last such US plant able to treat used HEU fuel and similar materials still operational. From 2011 it will treat used HEU fuel from the USA and overseas research reactors which have been converted to LEU or shut down under the Global Threat Reduction Initiative.
Several shifts in energy policy beginning in 2002, however, increased the likelihood of a resumption in reprocessing. In June 2005, the report accompanying the $31 billion energy and water funding bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee emphasised the need for new nuclear energy technologies. The DOE's Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI) would receive $85 million to develop fuel cycle technologies for Generation IV reactors including reprocessing and using fast neutron reactors to destroy long-lived components of wastes. A major driver for reprocessing was the reduction in the volume of high-level wastes, possibly obviating the need for any expansion of the planned repository at Yucca Mountain. In July 2005, with passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the "recovery of the energy value from spent commercial fuel" became an explicit objective of the AFCI.
The shift on reprocessing was given further impetus by the government and industry commitment to develop of advanced nuclear reactors. In late 2005, the American Nuclear Society issued a position paper stating that "the development and deployment of advanced nuclear reactors based on fast-neutron fission technology is important to the sustainability, reliability, and security of the world’s long-term energy supply."4 An initial $50 million for "integrated spent fuel recycling facilities" focused largely on fast reactors was committed by the US Congress in 2006. The US industry body, the Nuclear Energy Institute, has said that the US nuclear industry needs to plan for recycling used fuel to reduce the long-lived radioactivity arising from it so that in a relatively short time high-level wastes become no more toxic than the original uranium ore. This means recycling and burning all the long-lived actinides, which is most efficiently done in fast neutron reactors.
The development of new reprocessing technology became a central element in the government's 2006 proposal for a Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation (see information page on International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation). Under this proposal, the US and other developed countries would develop proliferation-resistant recycling technologies and provide nuclear fuel to developing countries that promised not to engage in enrichment and reprocessing activities. GNEP has attracted criticism, but has brought increased attention to the possibilities of reprocessing, an issue once thought to be decided. However, financial support for GNEP has been decreasing and, by 2009, under Barack Obama's Democratic administration, the DOE removed its GNEP website and did not refer to the program in its budget request for FY 2010.5 In June 2009, the DOE cancelled the programmatic environmental impact statement for GNEP "because it is no longer pursuing domestic commercial reprocessing, which was the primary focus of the prior Administration's domestic GNEP program."6
Despite the lack of US government support for GNEP as such, research activities under AFCI have continued. A DOE-funded demonstration project involving several versions of the UREX+ process for spent fuel is underway at the Argonne National Laboratory. The DOE is also exploring reprocessing technologies such as AREVA's COEX, which is based on processes already used in France, the UK, Russia and Japan, as well as a number of other technologies that would require the widespread use of fast neutron reactors. (See information page on Processing of Used Nuclear Fuel.)
Areva has costed plans for a major recycling complex in the USA, including reprocessing plant and MOX fuel fabrication plant, at $25 billion. It would have annual input capacity of 2500 tonnes, and is expected to take 12-15 years to licence and build. The reprocessing cost is expected to be less than the 0.1 ¢/kWh fee now charged for the nuclear waste fund.
A possible site for an initial reprocessing plant is at Morris, Illinois, which is the only licensed away-from-reactor wet used fuel storage facility in USA. It is adjacent to the Dresden nuclear power plant and currently stores about 700 tonnes. It was the site of GE's Midwest Fuel Recovery Plant, a small reprocessing plant built in the early 1970s but not operated.
Department of Energy recommendations in January 2013 following the report of the Blue Ribbon Commission a year earlier excluded reprocessing and recycling.
Nearly 30 civil prototype and commercial reactors have been decommissioned in the USA. Twelve have been totally dismantled (Decon optionf) so that the site is released for unrestricted use, notably Fort St Vrain, Big Rock Point and Shoreham. Ten are in various stages of dismantling, or Safstorf.
The Nuclear Energy Institute reported in 2006 that of the total $32 billion estimated to decommission all eligible nuclear plants at an average cost of $300 million, about two-thirds had already been funded. The remainder would be funded over the next 20 yearsg. See also appended Table.
US policy since 1977 has been to forbid reprocessing of used fuel and to treat it all as high-level waste, which the government is responsible for finally disposing of in a deep geological repository.
The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 established federal responsibility for all civil used fuel, including a timetable and procedures for the building of two repositories, funded by fees from utilities, with the federal government taking delivery of the spent fuel by 1998 along with responsibility for its disposal. The Act was amended in 1987 to designate Yucca Mountain in Nevada as the sole initial repository for 70,000 tonnes of high-level wastesh.
Despite several delays to the programi, in June 2008 a construction licence application was eventually submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by the Department of Energy (DOE). However, following the 2009 presidential elections, the Barack Obama administration attempted to abort the Yucca Mountain projectj, and a high-level "Blue Ribbon" commission was appointed to come up with alternative proposals by the end of 2011k.
Before budget cuts and policy announcements by the Obama administration, DOE estimates of when Yucca Mountain repository might be operational was about 2021,9 with some expansion of the original 70,000 tonne capacity10. The total cost in mid-2008 was put at about $96 billion (in 2007 dollars) for its construction, operation for 110 years, decommissioning from 2133 and the transport of used fuel to it11.
In the meantime, storage space at some operating nuclear reactors has run out and at most of the 65 nuclear sites pool storage is being supplemented with dry cask storage. Of the total inventory of 58,000 tonnes of used fuell, 10,700 tonnes was in dry cask storage as of early 2008. By 2017, it is anticipated that practically all nuclear power plant sites will need dry storage which will then hold 22,300 tonnes of used fuel. A number of utilities have sued the federal government for not meeting its obligation under the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act to begin taking waste by 1998 and have been awarded damages by the courtsm. About $1.2 billion had been paid to utilities by the end of 2012.
By the beginning of 2010, utilities had contributed over $31 billion (including interest) into the Nuclear Waste Fund, with $24 billion remaining after funding disbursements for the Yucca Mountain programn. The fund receives over $750 million in fees each year.
As well as the DOE Yucca Mountain enterprise, Private Fuel Storage LLC (PFS) planned to store used fuel on a site in Utah for up to 40 years pending disposal. PFS is a consortium of eight utilities impatient with the DOE. In February 2006, the NRC issued a 20-year licence for a 40,000 tonne centralised surface dry storage facility on land owned by the Skull Valley band of the Goshute Indianso. But ongoing state government opposition led to the Department of Interior then disapproving the Goshute-PFS lease and the use of public land as a transport corridor to the planned facility. This decision was appealed, and in July 2010 the "arbitrary and capricious" 2006 Department of Interior ruling was overturned by a District Court ruling (which was not challenged). However the Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs maintained its opposition and in December 2012 PFS sought the termination of the 2006 licence due to the cost of maintaining it and the fact that all the PFS members now has dry storage at their plant sites. Construction time would have been 24 to 36 months.
In the light of the 2006 Utah setback, the Nuclear Energy Institute started a search for communities willing to host interim storage sites for used fuel. It received several offers and by mid-2008 had reduced the possibilities to two, and discussions were proceeding. A commercially-operated facility on a 400 ha site is envisaged for each location, with the DOE paying rent for casks stored there.
Under new standard contracts with DOE, proponents of new reactor construction must undertake to store used fuel on site indefinitely, so that the DOE does not become liable for delays. The contracts specify that the DOE will begin removing used fuel within 20 years of the first refueling. As of January 2009, 19 such contracts had been signed under the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC’s) Waste Confidence Rule. They are a prerequisite for new reactor licensing and for licence renewals, and reflect the degree to which the NRC is confident that used fuel from US power reactors can be safely managed. The rule states that the NRC is confident that a repository (not necessarily Yucca Mountain) will be available 50 to 60 years after a reactor operating licence expires.
The so-called Blue Ribbon Commission's interim report to Congress in January 2012 recommended the development of centralized interim storage, establishing a new organization outside DOE to manage the US used fuel program, assured access to the nuclear waste fund in a trust rather than treasury, continued pursuit of a geological repository, and continued debate on reprocessing used fuel for recycle (strongly supported by industry). More generally the report said that "this nation's failure to come to grips with the nuclear waste issue has already proved damaging and costly. It will be even more damaging and more costly the longer it continues." Congress expected the DOE to develop a new strategy for managing used nuclear fuel and other nuclear waste within six months in response to the report. The US industry welcomed the report.
In January 2013 the DOE announced a new approach based on the report, including setting up a new organisation to manage the siting, development and operation of the future waste stores. It envisaged a 'pilot interim store' being operation in 2021, with a priority on taking used nuclear fuel from current shut down power plant sites. By 2025 a larger 'full-scale interim store' would open, and by 2048 an underground disposal facility should be in place to permanently store and dispose of the material. The mandate for the new organisation would exclude reprocessing of used fuel.
In response to this strategy calling for a consent-based approach, a consortium of two New Mexico counties and two cities has announced its intention to submit a license application to the NRC late in 2014 for an interim spent fuel storage facility between the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and the Urenco USA enrichment plant.
The USA also has some military ‘High-Level Wastes’ (HLW) which will need disposal with the civil high-level wastes such as used fuel. In fact these are all or mostly fairly old, and the radioactivity has decayed to levels comparable with those of the transuranic (TRU) wastes being disposed of at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in the Salado salt formation in New Mexico since 1999.
For low-level waste (LLW)p, there are a number of specialist US facilities which are licensed and regulated by the host states under terms of agreements with NRC. Otherwise LLW storage is at reactor sites:
- Waste Control Specialists operate the Texas Compact facility, which has taken some LLW since 1998 and was licensed in 2009 for class A, B & C LLW, and also to take Vermont's and DOE LLW. The company was licensed in 2012 to take LLW from other states, and in October 2011 it entered into an agreement with Utilities Service Alliance, representing 15 utilities including 17 nuclear power plants with 27 reactors. A separate site nearby will handle radioactive waste from federal sites around the country. The site is 580 km west of Dallas, near the New Mexico border, and owned by the state.
The Texas Compact Facility in Andrews County is the only one in the USA to be licensed within the last 30 years that is authorised to dispose of all classes of low-level radioactive waste materials considered suitable for near-surface burial. It accepts waste from the nuclear medicine, research, and power sectors.
- EnergySolutions at Barnwell, South Carolina, for Class A-C LLW from that state, New Jersey and Connecticut.
- EnergySolutions facility at Clive, Utah, which accepts class A LLW (about 90% of all LLW) from all over the USA.
- EnergySolutions at Oak Ridge, Tennessee which claims to be the largest licensed commercial US LLW facility with innovative technologies for radioactive material volume reduction (compaction, melting, incineration) and nearby capacity for recycling depleted uranium.
- American Ecology Corp at Richland, Washington accepts Classes A-C waste from the Northwest and Rocky Mountain compacts.
a. Actual annual production at the Metropolis conversion plant is currently around 15,000 tU – ConverDyn press release (18 June 2007) [Back]
b. From the 1960s to 2001, the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant worked in tandem with its sister facility in Paducah to enrich uranium for use in power plants. The Paducah plant enriched uranium up to 2.75% U-235 and then shipped it to Portsmouth for further enrichment to some 4-5%. In August 2010, the Department of Energy awarded a $2.1 billion contract to a joint venture between Fluor Corp and Babcock and Wilcox (B&W) for decontamination and decommissioning of the huge (15 sq km) Portsmouth uranium enrichment site. [Back]
c. NFS has diluted the material in Tennessee to yield some 290 tonnes of low-enriched uranium (4.95% U-235) by early 2012. Wesdyne, the prime contractor, would take 60 t of this LEU as payment in kind, then store the rest at the Westinghouse fuel fabrication plant in South Carolina to be available for the Reliable Fuel Supply program - an international fuel reserve, though this then became the American Assured Fuel Supply (AFS) program. The 230 t is equivalent to six reloads for a 1000 MWe reactor, according to NNSA. This batch of LEU will be available for use in civilian reactors by nations in good standing with the International Atomic Energy Agency that have good nonproliferation credentials and are not pursuing uranium enrichment and reprocessing technologies, and now also to US utilities. The fuel - worth some $500 million - would be sold at the current market price.
The DOE has said it would maintain a uranium reserve of 670 tonnes U - equivalent to about 20 power reactor reloads - for energy security reasons. This will be kept as low-enriched uranium stored either at the DOE's Portsmouth or Paducah sites, or may be kept as part of a commercial entity's working inventory. This intention may have been subsumed under the AFS program.
d. In line with this, the annual quantity coming from dismantled weapons and re-enriched depleted uranium increases steadily to reach 1,920 tonnes U in 2013 and then continues at that level, totalling 15,000 tonnes U. From 2010 to 2015, another 7,700 tonnes U from Russian-origin stocks is allocated for the first cores of newly-built reactors in the USA. [Back]
e. H-Canyon dates from 1955 and originally recovered uranium, neptunium and plutonium from used military and research reactor HEU fuel. Since 1998 it has recovered HEU from degraded materials and spent fuel, to recycle it as LEU. This program will continue to 2019. [Back]
f. In the USA, the option of immediate decommissioning of nuclear plants is known as the Decon strategy. The second option, where a facility is dismantled after allowing much of the radioactivity to decay, is known as Safstor. The third option, known as Entomb, is to permanently encase radioactive contaminants onsite until the radioactivity has decayed to a level where restricted release of the facility is possible.
US plants with Decon completed are: Big Rock Point, Elk River, Fort St Vrain, Haddam Neck, Maine Yankee, Pathfinder, Rancho Seco, Saxton, Shippingport, Shoreham, Trojan and Yankee Rowe. In 2011 Decon is in progress at Fermi 1, Humboldt Bay 3 and San Onofre 1. Those plants in Safstor include Dresden 1, Indian Point 1, LaCrosse, Millstone 1, Peach Bottom 1, and Zion 1&2, as well as NS Savannah. Three Mile Island 2 is in post-defueling monitored storage. The only US plants subject to the Entomb option are three small experimental ones.
See the Fact Sheet on Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's website (www.nrc.gov) for more information. [Back]
g. For further information, see the web page on Sites Undergoing Decommissioning on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's website (www.nrc.gov); see also the WNA information page on Decommissioning Nuclear Facilities, which has some detail of US plants. [Back]
h. The 70,000 tonne high-level waste repository planned at Yucca Mountain would take 63,000 tonnes of used reactor fuel, 2333 t of naval and Department of Energy used fuel and 4667 t of other high-level wastes, all from 126 sites in 39 US states. Studies by the Electric Power Research Institute show that the repository could hold at least 260,000 tonnes and possibly 570,000 tonnes of used fuel and high-level wastes, rather than the arbitrary 70,000 tonnes set by Congress in 1982.7 [Back]
i. After several years of failure to get matching bills through both houses of Congress, early in 2000 the House of Representatives finally passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act 2000 by 253 votes to 167, matching the earlier Senate passage of the legislation by 64 to 34. However, the President then vetoed it. The Bush Administration sought to make some urgent headway on the matter, and several reports in 2001 suggested no insurmountable scientific or technical problems with the proposed repository site in Nevada. The US Energy Secretary recommended that the site be approved as the nation's permanent repository. This was strongly supported by Congress and signed into law in July 2002. The Department of Energy submitted a licence application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in June 2008. Less than a year later, the new Obama administration's FY 2010 Congressional Budget Request confirmed "the Administration's decision to terminate the Yucca Mountain program while developing nuclear waste disposal alternatives." [Back]
j. The first budget from the Obama administration in 2009 cut off most of the money for the Yucca Mountain project8. Although the Administration has said it has cancelled the project, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled in June 2010 that the construction licence application submitted two years earlier may not be withdrawn without consent of Congress. See the Nuclear wastes section in the information page on US Nuclear Power Policy for further information. [Back]
k. In January 2010, the DOE announced the formation of a 15-member Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future to "provide recommendations for developing a safe, long-term solution to managing the nation’s used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste."12 In a memorandum to energy secretary Steven Chu13, President Obama said: "The commission should conduct a comprehensive review of policies for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle, including all alternatives for the storage, processing, and disposal of civilian and defence used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste." The commission submitted an interim report in July 2011, and a final report is due within 24 months. [Back]
l. As of 2008, there was some 58,000 tonnes of civil used fuel awaiting disposal and about 12,800 tonnes of government used fuel and separated high-level wastes. The total increases by about 2,500 tonnes per year. [Back]
m. In 2004, Exelon reached agreement with the US Justice Department on recovering up to $300 million in storage costs for its used fuel to 2010. The agreement covered all of Exelon's 17 nuclear reactors, and the cash came from tax monies, not the Nuclear Waste Fund. In 2006, the US Federal Court awarded $143 million in damages to three related New England utilities and $40 million to the Sacramento Utility District for the same reason – the former had had to build dry storage facilities. Then $43 million was awarded to Pacific Gas & Electric. In 2007, Duke Energy negotiated $56 million on same basis for three plants, plus ongoing costs. Then Xcel Energy was awarded $116 million for costs associated with three reactors from 1998 to 2004 and Entergy Arkansas was awarded $48.6 million for costs to 2006. Progress Energy was awarded $82.8 million in 2008. Xcel Energy was awarded about $200 million in mid 2011 in relation to Prairie Island and Monticello plants, half through to 2008, half 2009-13. Other utilities have been suing the federal government to achieve the same result and billions of dollars are involved. [Back]
n. Congress established a trust fund for waste management in 1982 under the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM), and utilities have supplied over $31 billion (including some $14 billion investment returns) to this Nuclear Waste Fund through a 0.1 cent/kWh levy towards final disposal, so that by the end of January 2010 it had a balance of $24 billion, after development expenses for Yucca Mountain14. The fund is growing by about $770 million per year from utility inputs and $1 billion from investment returns. [Back]
o. PFS then offered the facility to the Department of Energy for use from 2008 pending Yucca Mountain repository opening, suggesting that it would be very much cheaper for DOE than leaving the used fuel at reactor sites. While fuel ownership was originally intended to remain with utility customers, the proposal to DOE was that it would take ownership at the reactor site (as was legally required by 1998) and be responsible for moving it to PFS, and ultimately to Yucca Mountain. [Back]
p. Class A low-level waste contains radionuclides with the lowest concentrations and the shortest half-lives; Classes B and C contain greater concentrations of radionuclides with longer half-lives. Class A LLW must be contained for up to 100 years, Class B waste for up to 300 years and Class C waste for up to 500 years. [Back]
Appendix: Decommissioned Power Reactors 2011
|Big Rock Point
||Punta Higuera, PR
||Elk River, MN
|Fort St. Vrain
|Humboldt Bay 3
||DECON in Progress
|Indian Point 1
||Sioux Falls, SD
|Peach Bottom 1
||Peach Bottom, PA
|San Onofre 1
||San Clemente, CA
||DECON in Progress
||Wading River, NY
|Three Mile Island 2
Post defueling monitored storage
||Franklin Co., MA
1. Data from US Energy Information Administration (www.eia.doe.gov) [Back]
2. International Isotopes Inc. Announces Continued Progress Towards the Licensing and Construction of its Planned Uranium De-conversion and Fluorine Extraction Processing Facility, International Isotopes Inc. news release (3 August 2010) [Back]
3. USEC Anticipates Loan Guarantee Decision by Early August, USEC news release (6 July 2009); Department of Energy Denies USEC’s Loan Guarantee Application, USEC news release (28 July 2009); Department of Energy and USEC Announce Decision to Delay USEC Loan Guarantee Application Final Review, Department of Energy press release (4 August 2009); USEC Reports $58.5 million net income for 2009, USEC news release (1 March 2010); USEC Updates Status of American Centrifuge Project, USEC news release (4 May 2010, 3 Aug 2010) [Back]
4. Fast Reactor Technology: A Path to Long-Term Energy Sustainability, American Nuclear Society Position Statement (November 2005) [Back]
5. Green focus in US energy budget, World Nuclear News (8 May 2009) [Back]
6. Fatal blow to GNEP?, World Nuclear News (29 June 2009); Federal Register, Notices, Vol. 74, No. 123, pages 31017-31018 (29 June 2009) [Back]
7. Program on Technology Innovation: Room at the Mountain, Electric Power Research Institute, Product ID: 1015046 (29 June 2007) [Back]
8. Yucca Mountain 'terminated', World Nuclear News (8 May 2009); FY 2010 Congressional Budget Request: U.S. Department of Energy Environmental Management/Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal/Nuclear Waste Disposal, DOE/CF-039, Volume 5, Office of Chief Financial Officer, Office of Budget (May 2009) [Back]
9. Ward Sproat: Comments on the DOE’s Yucca Mountain Project, Nuclear News, Volume 50, Number 1 (January 2007) [Back]
10. Crossroads for Yucca Mountain, World Nuclear News (10 December 2008) [Back]
11. Yucca Mountain cost estimate rises to $96 billion, World Nuclear News (6 August 2008) [Back]
12. Secretary Chu Announces Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, U.S. Department of Energy, Press Release (29 January 2010) [Back]
13. Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, Office of the Press Secretary, The White House (29 January 2010) [Back]
14. Summary of Program Financial & Budget Information As of January 31, 2010, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, U.S. Department of Energy [Back]
American Centrifuge Plant page on the USEC website (www.usec.com)
Urenco USA (formerly National Enrichment Facility) page on the Urenco website (www.urenco.com)
Uranium Disposition Services website (www.uds-llc.com)