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For Immediate Release July 31, 2000
Media Contact: Rick Ford   (803) 725-2889


"Melt And Dilute" Selected To Treat
DOE's Spent Nuclear Fuel At Savannah River

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Technology Supports Administration's Non-Proliferation Commitments

The Department of Energy has selected a new technology to manage the majority of spent fuel being received at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Savannah River Site (SRS), near Aiken, S.C.

"I've given the green light to the SRS workforce to put the melt and dilute technology in place to treat spent nuclear fuel," said Assistant Secretary of Environmental Management Carolyn Huntoon. "This decision will advance the site's role furthering non-proliferation, technology development, and responsible waste management."

In 1996, the DOE embarked on a program at SRS to identify, develop, and demonstrate cost-effective treatments to prepare domestic and foreign research reactor spent fuel for disposal without separating the enriched uranium. Melt and dilute was selected as the preferred technology among several technologies considered in an environmental impact statement. It will directly convert spent fuel containing highly enriched uranium, which is usable in nuclear weapons, into low enriched uranium ingots. These ingots are well suited for geological disposal and are unattractive for weapons production.

The preferred alternative is described in the SRS Spent Nuclear Fuel Management Final Environmental Impact Statement Record of Decision (ROD) which was released today. DOE has decided to pursue the development and demonstration of the melt and dilute technology for treating most of the aluminum-based spent nuclear fuel.

Following development and demonstration of the technology, DOE will begin detailed design, construction, testing, and startup of a treatment and storage facility (TSF). This facility is planned to be operational in fiscal year 2008.

The ROD will be available at, by Tuesday, August 1.





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