USED NUCLEAR MATERIALS AT SAVANNAH RIVER SITE: ASSET OR WASTE?

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The nuclear industry, both in the commercial and the government sectors, has generated large quantities of material that span the spectrum of usefulness, from highly valuable (“assets”) to worthless (“wastes”). In many cases, the decision parameters are clear. Transuranic waste and high level waste, for example, have no value, and is either in a final disposition path today, or – in the case of high level waste – awaiting a policy decision about final disposition. Other materials, though discardable, have intrinsic scientific or market value that may be hidden by the complexity, hazard, or cost of recovery. An informed decision ... continued below

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Magoulas, V. June 3, 2013.

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The nuclear industry, both in the commercial and the government sectors, has generated large quantities of material that span the spectrum of usefulness, from highly valuable (“assets”) to worthless (“wastes”). In many cases, the decision parameters are clear. Transuranic waste and high level waste, for example, have no value, and is either in a final disposition path today, or – in the case of high level waste – awaiting a policy decision about final disposition. Other materials, though discardable, have intrinsic scientific or market value that may be hidden by the complexity, hazard, or cost of recovery. An informed decision process should acknowledge the asset value, or lack of value, of the complete inventory of materials, and the structure necessary to implement the range of possible options. It is important that informed decisions are made about the asset value for the variety of nuclear materials available. For example, there is a significant quantity of spent fuel available for recycle (an estimated $4 billion value in the Savannah River Site’s (SRS) L area alone); in fact, SRS has already blended down more than 300 metric tons of uranium for commercial reactor use. Over 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium is also on a path to be used as commercial fuel. There are other radiological materials that are routinely handled at the site in large quantities that should be viewed as strategically important and / or commercially viable. In some cases, these materials are irreplaceable domestically, and failure to consider their recovery could jeopardize our technological leadership or national defense. The inventories of nuclear materials at SRS that have been characterized as “waste” include isotopes of plutonium, uranium, americium, and helium. Although planning has been performed to establish the technical and regulatory bases for their discard and disposal, recovery of these materials is both economically attractive and in the national interest.

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  • INMM 54th Annual Meeting, July 15-18, 2013, Palm Desert, CA

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  • Report No.: SRNL-MS-2013-00080
  • Grant Number: DE-AC09-08SR22470
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1082304
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc846813

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  • June 3, 2013

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

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  • Dec. 12, 2016, 1:45 p.m.

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Magoulas, V. USED NUCLEAR MATERIALS AT SAVANNAH RIVER SITE: ASSET OR WASTE?, article, June 3, 2013; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc846813/: accessed November 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.