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U.S. NUCLEAR INDUSTRY HAILS RUSSIAN URANIUM PURCHASE AGREEMENT

 /ADVANCE/ WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Phillip Bayne, president of the U.S. Council for Energy Awareness, praised the signing of a contract in Moscow with the Russian Federation for the United States to purchase uranium processed from dismantled Soviet warheads and convert it into nuclear power-plant fuel with the following statement:
 "America's purchase of uranium for nuclear power-plant fuel made from weapons-grade uranium is a good deal for both countries and for world peace. Diluting this material into fuel for making electricity is the best way to get rid of it permanently and ensure that it will never again be used for warheads.
 "Russia's large stock of weapons-grade uranium will go a long way in making commercial nuclear fuel. The 10 metric tons purchased in the first year of the agreement could be blended down into enough power-plant fuel to provide electricity for 10 million households -- the equivalent of the residential electricity used in California.
 "The years of hard work that went into this historic agreement are the latest effort in humanity's determination to use the atom for peace. The American scientists who harnessed the atom more than 50 years ago would see this as a major step toward fulfilling the promise of peaceful nuclear technology that they gave the world."
 FACTS AND FIGURES ON THE URANIUM PURCHASE AGREEMENT
 The Agreement: In August 1992, then-President George Bush decided that the United States would work to buy weapons-grade (highly enriched) uranium from the Russian Federation that could be blended down into fuel for U.S. nuclear power plants. On Feb. 18, 1993, the two countries entered into an agreement under which the United States will contract to purchase, over the next 20 years, approximately 15,000 metric tons of power-plant grade fuel made from 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium in Russian nuclear warheads.
 The United States Enrichment Corp. (USEC) -- a U.S. government corporation -- will carry out the contract and market the material to electric utility companies with nuclear power plants. The agreement calls for USEC to purchase 10 metric tons of highly enriched uranium in each of the next five years and 30 metric tons thereafter for the remaining 15 years. USEC will pay the Russian Federation approximately $12 billion for the highly enriched uranium.
 The blending down of the Russian highly enriched uranium will be done in Russia before USEC takes ownership of the material. The agreement includes provisions to assure that the highly enriched uranium purchased is taken from dismantled warheads.
 Highly Enriched Uranium: Natural uranium ore contains less than 1 percent of U-235, the isotope, or form, of uranium that is fissionable (its atoms can be split). To be used for either power-plant fuel or for weapons, the concentration of U-235 in natural uranium must be increased -- or "enriched" -- in a series of chemical and physical processes.
 Nuclear weapons require a very high (more than 90 percent) concentration of U-235. Low-enriched uranium for nuclear power-plant fuel is far less concentrated, containing only 3-5 percent U-235, and cannot explode.
 Diluting Highly Enriched Uranium: Highly enriched uranium can be diluted with natural or slightly enriched uranium to lower the concentration of U-235 to the 3-5 percent suitable for commercial nuclear power plants. The diluted, low-enriched uranium is not suitable for weapons use.
 After the highly enriched uranium has been blended down, USEC will take possession of the resulting low-enriched uranium and ship it to a nuclear-fuel fabricator. The fabricating operation produces fuel pellets that are coated with a hard ceramic material and loaded into long tubes made of a non-corroding metal -- usually a zirconium alloy -- that can withstand high temperatures. The individual tubes -- called fuel rods -- are bundled together into fuel assemblies that are inserted in the reactor.
 A typical 1,100-megawatt pressurized-water nuclear power plant -- which can generate enough electricity for a city of more than 500,000 people -- contains 193 fuel assemblies, each made up of between 225 and 279 fuel rods, depending on the plant's design. Each fuel assembly has a useful life of 36 to 54 months, after which the efficiency of the nuclear chain reaction begins to decrease.
 The U.S. Council for Energy Awareness (USCEA) is an international trade association of the nuclear energy industries.
 -0- 1/14/94/0030
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: (A) This release is embargoed until the signing of the agreement, anticipated at 12:30 a.m. EST Jan. 14.
 A detailed fact sheet on nuclear fuel production is available from USCEA's Media Relations department.
 ATTENTION BROADCASTERS
 Radio Actuality: A multipart actuality on how the uranium sale agreement fulfills the vision of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1953 "Atoms for Peace" speech -- and how weapons-grade uranium is diluted into fuel for nuclear power-plants -- featuring William H. Timbers Jr. of the United States Enrichment Corp. and excerpts of the Eisenhower speech, is now available from Ruder Finn Public Affairs at 202-466-7800.
 Satellite Newsfeed Jan. 14: "Swords to Plowshares," a video news release featuring Timbers, international nuclear expert Del Bunch and footage of nuclear fuel production, will be available:
 TIME: 2:30-3 p.m. EST
 SATELLITE: Telstar 302
 TRANSPONDER: 7V
 CHANNEL: 13
 AUDIO: 6.2 & 6.8/
 /CONTACT: Cathy Roche, Steve Unglesbee or Scott Peters of the U.S. Council for Energy Awareness, 202-293-0770, or after hours and weekends, 703-644-8805/


CO: U.S. Council for Energy Awareness; United States Enrichment Corp. ST: District of Columbia IN: OIL UTI SU: EXE

DC-DT -- DC020 -- 1852 01/13/94 15:45 EST
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Date:Jan 13, 1994
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