Reactor-Based Plutonium Disposition: Opportunities, Options, and Issues

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The end of the Cold War has created a legacy of surplus fissile materials (plutonium and highly enriched uranium) in the United States (U.S.) and the former Soviet Union. These materials pose a danger to national and international security. During the past few years, the U.S. and Russia have engaged in an ongoing dialog concerning the safe storage and disposition of surplus fissile material stockpiles. In January 1997, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the U. S. would pursue a dual track approach to rendering approximately 50 metric tons of plutonium inaccessible for use in nuclear weapons. One track involves ... continued below

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11 pages

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Greene, S.R. July 17, 1999.

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Description

The end of the Cold War has created a legacy of surplus fissile materials (plutonium and highly enriched uranium) in the United States (U.S.) and the former Soviet Union. These materials pose a danger to national and international security. During the past few years, the U.S. and Russia have engaged in an ongoing dialog concerning the safe storage and disposition of surplus fissile material stockpiles. In January 1997, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the U. S. would pursue a dual track approach to rendering approximately 50 metric tons of plutonium inaccessible for use in nuclear weapons. One track involves immobilizing the plutonium by combining it with high-level radioactive waste in glass or ceramic ''logs''. The other method, referred to as reactor-based disposition, converts plutonium into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel for nuclear reactors. The U.S. and Russia are moving ahead rapidly to develop and demonstrate the technology required to implement the MOX option in their respective countries. U.S. MOX fuel research and development activities were started in the 1950s, with irradiation of MOX fuel rods in commercial light water reactors (LWR) from the 1960s--1980s. In all, a few thousand MOX fuel rods were successfully irradiated. Though much of this work was performed with weapons-grade or ''near'' weapons-grade plutonium--and favorable fuel performance was observed--the applicability of this data for licensing and use of weapons-grade MOX fuel manufactured with modern fuel fabrication processes is somewhat limited. The U.S. and Russia are currently engaged in an intensive research, development, and demonstration program to support implementation of the MOX option in our two countries. This paper focuses on work performed in the U.S. and provides a brief summary of joint U.S./Russian work currently underway.

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11 pages

Notes

INIS; OSTI as DE00009884

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  • International Symposium on MOX Fuel Cycle Technologies for medium and Long Term Deployment: Experience, Advances, Trends, Vienna (AT), 05/17/1999--05/21/1999

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  • Report No.: ORNL/CP-102975
  • Grant Number: AC05-96OR22464
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 9884
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc793250

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  • July 17, 1999

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Dec. 19, 2015, 7:14 p.m.

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  • Jan. 20, 2016, 4:16 p.m.

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Greene, S.R. Reactor-Based Plutonium Disposition: Opportunities, Options, and Issues, article, July 17, 1999; Tennessee. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc793250/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.