What is going to happen to the uranium hexafluoride stored in the United States?
The DOE has been evaluating the alternative strategies for long-term management and use of the depleted uranium hexafluoride in storage for several years. These studies included the preparation of the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Alternative Strategies for the Long-Term Management and Use of Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride, which was released in April of 1999. Based on the results of the PEIS and other supporting studies, the DOE announced their decision to proceed with the preferred alternative described in the PEIS in a Record of Decision released in August 1999 (the Record of Decision can be found at: http://web.ead.anl.gov/uranium/docs).
Consistent with the Record of Decision, DOE believes conversion of the depleted UF6 inventory as soon as possible is the prudent and proper decision. Several factors, including increased chemical stability, socioeconomic benefits associated with the conversion, and public and congressional desire to move forward with conversion, have contributed to this decision.
On October 31, 2000, the Department issued a RFP to procure a contractor to design, construct and operate new depleted UF6 conversion facilities at the Paducah, Kentucky and Portsmouth, Ohio uranium enrichment plant sites. The conversion plants that result from this procurement will convert the depleted UF6 material to a more stable chemical form which is suitable for either beneficial use or disposal.
On August 29, 2002, DOE awarded a contract to Uranium Disposition Services, LLC, for construction and operation of two conversion facilities. The construction of the two facilities is expected to begin by the congressionally mandated July 31, 2004 date and be completed in about two years.
The conversion facility at the Portsmouth site will convert DOE's inventory of DUF6 currently at Portsmouth and at ETTP. The cylinders at ETTP will be transported to Portsmouth. The Paducah facility will be used to convert DOE's inventory of DUF6 at Paducah. Both plants will convert the DUF6 to depleted U3O8 and aqueous HF. Current plans care for disposing of the oxide at the Envirocare of Utah, Inc. or the Nevada test site disposal facility and sale/use of the aqueous HF.
More information about DOE's plans regarding depleted uranium hexafluoride can be found at http://web.ead.anl.gov/uranium/docs.
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