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. The contractor selected will have the task of applying its technology to the design of the conversion plants; constructing the plants; and operating the plants for a five year period, including maintaining depleted uranium and product inventories, transporting depleted uranium from Tennessee to a conversion plant, and transporting converted product that is not needed for other uses to a disposal site. The selected contractor will be expected to arrange for the disposal of excess material at an appropriate site.
More information about DOE's plans regarding depleted uranium hexafluoride can be found at http://web.ead.anl.gov/uranium/docs.