WASHINGTON, D.C. ― A shipment of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA)’s Fast Critical Assembly (FCA) reactor arrived safely at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C., and Y-12 National Security Complex near Oak Ridge, Tenn.
“The removal of the material from Japan represents a significant accomplishment in our broader global nuclear security efforts to secure highly enriched uranium and plutonium worldwide. Japan has been one of the United States’ staunchest allies in the global effort to minimize, and when possible eliminate, the use of sensitive nuclear materials at research facilities,” said DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz. “This strong partnership has helped the international community ensure that these materials never find their way into the hands of criminals, terrorists, or other unauthorized actors.”
The plutonium is part of the 6 metric tons (MT) of surplus non-pit plutonium addressed in the Record of Decision (ROD) recently issued by DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Per the ROD, the plutonium material recovered from Japan will be prepared for disposition using the unique capabilities of the Savannah River Site (SRS), for eventual disposal at DOE’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico.
This plutonium will be diluted and packaged to meet the WIPP waste acceptance criteria and other applicable regulatory requirements. The dilution process has been fully demonstrated and in use by DOE for almost 15 years. In fact, plutonium from SRS and other sites has already been disposed of at WIPP. SRS is working to resume plutonium dilution and packaging operations by the end of 2016.
The enriched uranium transferred to the United States will be placed into safe, secure storage at Y-12, and will be subsequently processed and downblended to low enriched uranium. Any use of the Enriched Uranium or its byproducts shall be subject to all terms of the Agreement for Cooperation and any bilateral agreements between the Governments of Japan and the United States.
The arrival of this shipment fulfills the commitment to remove the FCA material that Japan and the United States announced at the 2014 and 2016 Nuclear Security Summits.