WASHINGTON, D.C. ― The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA), working in collaboration with the Government of Switzerland, announced that approximately 2.2 kilogram of U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) has been returned from the University of Basel in Switzerland to the United States.
The HEU is from AGN-211-P research reactor, which commenced operation in 1961 using U.S.-origin HEU Material Test Reactor (MTR)-type fuel.
The reactor was operated for decades by the University of Basel for education and research purposes, but the decision was made to decommission the reactor and repatriate the HEU fuel to the United States.
The University of Basel, in cooperation with the Swiss Government, the Paul Sherrer Institute (PSI), and NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, packaged and transported the 13 irradiated HEU fuel elements in a spent nuclear fuel cask that was then shipped to Charleston, South Carolina, in a specially outfitted, dedicated vessel.
The material was then transported to its final destination at DOE’s Savannah River Site, in Aiken, South Carolina.
“We are delighted to share this important milestone with the Swiss Government and the Paul Sherrer Institute, and want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the important partnership that made this possible,” NNSA Deputy Administrator Anne Harrington said. “Our collaboration advances global efforts to secure, consolidate, and minimize the use of highly enriched uranium so that it does not fall into the hands of terrorists.”
The successful removal of this HEU from Switzerland, which was managed by DNN’s Office of Material Management and Minimization, marks the removal of all HEU from the 27th country plus Taiwan and highlights the strong role Switzerland has played as a leader in nuclear nonproliferation.