USEC Completes Cleanup of Contaminated Uranium Inventories.
USEC Inc. today announced that it has competed the cleanup of its technetium-contaminated uranium inventories.
The 7,434 metric tons of uranium cleaned were part of an inventory of natural uranium transferred to the company by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) prior to USEC's privatization. USEC is a leading supplier of enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.
In 2000, USEC discovered that 9,550 metric tons of that inventory may have contained elevated levels of technetium, making it out-of-specification according to standards for uranium hexafluoride for enrichment as set by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Because the uranium may not have met these specifications, USEC could not use the material as feed for enrichment.
USEC has been cleaning the 7,434 metric tons of contaminated inventory under a contract with DOE at the company's Piketon, Ohio, facility using a patented process developed by the company. USEC said the cost of cleaning the uranium was less than 15 percent of the price of buying replacement uranium at today's prices.
USEC developed the process in the late 1990s and spent about 12 months perfecting it over 2002 to 2003. The process works by liquefying uranium hexafluoride contaminated with technetium and passing it through a trapping media that removes the technetium.
USEC's cleanup project began in 2002 and was completed within budget and more than two months ahead of schedule, the company said.
As part of DOE's remediation efforts, the department also transferred
2,116 metric tons of clean uranium in 2004 to the company in exchange for an equal amount of contaminated material. USEC is also under contract to clean part of DOE's remaining contaminated inventory in order to bring it up to specifications. That project is ongoing and anticipated to continue through 2008, subject to continued funding, USEC said.
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|Date:||Oct 24, 2006|
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