A yearslong campaign to take in and process thousands of gallons of liquid highly enriched uranium at the Savannah River Site is now complete, the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration announced Tuesday.
Between 2017 and 2020, the Savannah River Site received 115 shipments of the material, totaling more than 6,000 gallons. The shipments originated in Canada, at the Chalk River Laboratories; about 150,000 miles were covered in transport.
“Completing this multiyear project with Canada marks another important step in the global effort to minimize the civilian use of” highly enriched uranium, said acting National Nuclear Security Administration chief William Bookless. “This significant achievement could not have been accomplished without the strong cooperation and hard work from all our partners in Canada and the U.S.”
Nuclear nonproliferation is a key aspect of the NNSA's mission.
The highly enriched uranium – toxic material – was processed at H-Canyon, the only large-scale nuclear chemical processing facility in the U.S.
The fact that it arrived in liquid form made the venture “unique,” according to Bill Giddings, a program manager with Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, the top contractor at the Savannah River Site.
“Most of the HEU H-Canyon receives comes in the form of spent nuclear fuel rods that need to be dissolved before we can process the resulting solution,” Giddings explained.
The National Nuclear Security Administration on Tuesday applauded Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, the Savannah River National Laboratory and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories for playing pivotal roles.