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(last updated 13 Sep 2017)

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Mitsubishi and Areva to build nuclear fuel fabrication plant in USA

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) and Areva confirmed they are doing necessary preparation to jointly invest (MHI 50% and Areva 50%) in a dedicated nuclear fuel fabrication facility to be built in the United States. (Areva, Mitsubishi Feb. 18, 2009)

 

TVEL aims to sell nuclear fuel in the US market by 2014

> See here

 

Nuclear Fuel Transport

(for UF6 transport, see extra page)

Truck carrying uranium fuel rods wrecked in Tennessee

A truck carrying uranium fuel rods was struck from behind by another vehicle on I-40 westbound near U.S. Highway 64 Tuesday (Nov. 15) night at 7:50 p.m. Hazmat crews, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Memphis police and Memphis fire personnel responded quickly. No fuel rods fell off the truck. Emergency crews were relieved no one was hurt and that no spill occurred. (WREG-TV Nov. 15, 2011)

Truck hauling low-grade uranium overturns on U.S. highway exit in North Carolina

On Dec. 21, 2006, a tractor-trailer hauling about 6,000 pounds (2,700 kilograms) of low-grade uranium overturned as it exited a major U.S. interstate highway south of Raleigh, North Carolina, but the crash did not pose a threat to the public, authorities said. The truck crashed onto its side after the driver lost control on an exit ramp along Interstate 95, said Jason Barbour, Johnston County's emergency communications director. The truck was carrying a radioactive material called packaged fissile, Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Everett Clendenin said. The powdered uranium was packed in containers that weren't breached by the accident, he said. The uranium was being transported by Portsmouth Marine Terminal, from Portsmouth, Virginia, to Global Nuclear Fuels in Wilmington, North Carolina. (The International Herald Tribune Dec. 22, 2006)

Truck carrying nuclear fuel assemblies overturned on Interstate 80 in Utah

On June 8, 2004, at 5:30 am EDT, a tractor trailer carrying a sea land container which contained twelve recently manufactured fuel assemblies overturned on Interstate 80 at mile marker 34 in Tooele County, Utah. The unirradiated fuel assemblies were being transported from GNF's nuclear fuel facility in Wilmington, North Carolina, to Oakland, California for shipment to Japan. The licensee reported that both drivers were injured but there did not appear to be any damage to the overturned sea land container. (NRC PNO-II-04-004, June 8, 2004)
The shipment was driven back to Wilmington. GNF performed a limited visual inspection of the RAJ-II containers that could be seen through the open top and doors of the sea land, and stated there did not appear to be any significant damage to these containers. GNF plans to unload the sea land container and fully inspect the RAJ-II packages. (NRC PNO-II-04-004A, June 14, 2004)

 

Downblending of U.S. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) for commercial reactor use

DOE invites comment on issues related to continued sale of excess uranium

> View here

Project On Government Oversight demands more efforts for downblending of U.S. surplus weapons-grade uranium for reactor use

On Sep. 14, 2010, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) released U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex: How the Country Can Profit and Become More Secure by Getting Rid of Its Surplus Weapons-Grade Uranium, an investigative report which has found that the Obama Administration's efforts of securing and disposing of bomb-grade material around the world is not being realized here in the U.S.
The U.S. has nearly 400 metric tons (MT) of highly enriched uranium (HEU), a fissile material used in nuclear weapons, that is not necessary for U.S. defense needs, the vast majority of which has not been declared surplus so that it can be properly eliminated. This is the equivalent of more than 16,000 nuclear warheads. Although not necessary for defense purposes, this vast store of HEU could be used for nefarious purposes by terrorists.
Despite this danger, one of the most practical ways of reducing the risk has fallen by the wayside. The pace of converting surplus, expensive-to-secure HEU into low enriched uranium (LEU), which is unusable in weapons, has slowed to a snail's pace. As recently as 2004, this process-known as downblending-was occurring at a rate close to ten times that of the downblending rate planned for the next four decades. The reason for the slow-down appears to be that the Department of Energy (DOE) has not made downblending a priority. The U.S. government has the capacity to ramp up downblending of surplus HEU to previous levels, and even exceed them. Also, far more HEU can be declared surplus than has been.

> View POGO release Sep. 14, 2010
> Download POGO report U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex: How the Country Can Profit and Become More Secure by Getting Rid of Its Surplus Weapons-Grade Uranium, Sep. 14, 2010

U.S. DOE awards further contract for downblending of U.S. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) for commercial reactor use

On June 23, 2009, DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that it has awarded a $209 million contract to down-blend 12.1 metric tons (MT) of surplus U.S. highly enriched uranium (HEU) and store the resulting low-enriched uranium (LEU).
Under the agreement, 12.1 metric tons of HEU will be down-blended to about 220 metric tons of LEU at the Nuclear Fuel Services facility in Erwin, Tennessee. The resulting LEU will have a market value of more than $400 million. NNSA expects the down-blending to begin in 2009 and to be completed in 2012. The contractors performing the down-blending work will be compensated with a fraction of the LEU; the remainder of the LEU will be stored to support the mixed oxide (MOX) program for disposition of surplus weapons plutonium.

DOE presents downblending options for its unallocated HEU

DOE is considering to "Down-blend 12.1 metric tons of uranium (MTU) of unallocated highly enriched uranium (HEU) to about 220 MTU of LEU of which about 170 MTU could be used for a general or special-purpose DOE LEU inventory." (Excess Uranium Inventory Management Plan, Dec. 16, 2008)

> See also: DOE issues Excess Uranium Inventory Management Plan

U.S. DOE issues Supplement Analysis for the Disposition of Highly Enriched Uranium

In October 2007, DOE released a supplement analysis for its Disposition of Surplus Highly Enriched Uranium Final Environmental Impact Statement, DOE/EIS-0240, June 1996. This supplement analysis (SA) summarizes the status of HEU disposition activities conducted to date and evaluates the potential impacts of continued program implementation. In addition, this SA considers the potential environmental impacts of proposed new DOE/NNSA initiatives to support the surplus HEU disposition program. Specifically, DOE/NNSA is proposing new end-users for existing program material, new disposal pathways for existing program HEU discard material, and down-blending additional quantities of HEU.

> Download Supplement Analysis for the Disposition of Highly Enriched Uranium, DOE/EIS-0240-SA1, October 2007 (181k PDF)

U.S. DOE awards contract for downblending of U.S. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) for commercial reactor use

On June 29, 2007, the Department of Energy awarded a contract to convert 17.4 metric tons of bomb-grade uranium stored in Tennessee into low-enriched fuel for civilian reactors overseas. The highly enriched material is now held at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge. It will be diluted or "downblended" at Nuclear Fuels Services in Erwin, Tennessee, then shipped for storage to Westinghouse Electric Company's fuel fabrication plant in Columbia, South Carolina. The downblending work at Nuclear Fuel Services is to begin later this year and be completed by 2010. (AP Jun 29, 2007)

DOE plans downblending of enriched uranium for reactor fuel

More than 17 tons of highly enriched uranium currently stored at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant will be "down-blended" to eliminate its weapons capability and make it available for reactor fuel. The government unveiled the three-year project earlier this week, and in December 2006 or January 2007 will solicit companies interested in bidding on the work. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the 17.4 short tons [15.8 t] of HEU will be converted into about 290 short tons [263 t] of low-enriched uranium with an estimated value of $750 million. The uranium stocks to be used in the down-blending project have an enrichment that ranges from about 20 percent up to 93.3 percent. The materials will be mixed with lesser stocks of uranium to reduce the enrichment to 4.95 percent U-235, a level suitable for use in commercial power reactors. (The Knoxville News Sentinel Nov. 11, 2006)

> View: Presolicitation Notice - Down Blend of Highly Enriched Uranium and Establishment of Reliable Fuel Supply, Nov. 8, 2006

BWX Technologies completes downblending of weapons-grade uranium

Two private companies announced on July 13, 2006, they have finished converting 50 metric tons of weapons-suitable highly enriched uranium to uranium that can be used by commercial nuclear power plants. The conversion by mixing the highly enriched uranium with depleted uranium was conducted by BWX Technologies at its facility in Lynchburg, Va., for the USEC Inc., the uranium enrichment company that supplies reactor fuel for the nuclear industry. About 660 metric tons of low-enriched uranium was produced and already has been provided to dozens of utilities to be used in power reactors.
Separately, the Energy Department is providing 39 tons of highly enriched uranium to the Tennessee Valley Authority, which, after converting it (at NFS' Erwin Tn., plant), uses it in TVA's power reactors. About half of that amount already has been converted. (AP July 14, 2006)

DOE to release 20 Metric Tons of Highly Enriched Uranium for Downblending

On Nov. 7, 2005, Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman announced that the Department of Energy's (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will remove up to 200 metric tons (MT) of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU), in the coming decades, from further use as fissile material in U.S. nuclear weapons and prepare this material for other uses. 
About 20 MT will be down-blended to low enriched uranium (LEU) for eventual use in civilian nuclear power reactors, research reactors or related research. The other material will be used for Naval Reactors or for Space Programs. (DOE Nov. 7, 2005)

DOE considers downblending of 100 short tons of HEU stored at Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Hearing: DOE Nuclear Security: What Are the Challenges, and What's Next?
U.S. House of Representatives, The Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, May 11, 2004:
Witness Testimony: The Honorable Kyle E. McSlarrow, Deputy Secretary, US Department of Energy
"[...] Third, we need to explore whether we can down-blend substantial quantities of our HEU holdings. Potentially, this could yield a number of security benefits, but the programmatic impact of a major campaign of down-blending needs to be assessed. We have also directed NNSA to conduct a study to assess the down-blending of large quantities, perhaps as much as 100 tons, of the HEU stored at Y-12 and to assess the programmatic impacts of such a large campaign."

DOE issues EIS and ROD on HEU downblending

DOE/EIS-0240 - Disposition of Surplus Highly Enriched Uranium Final Environmental Impact Statement, (June 1996)

> Download DOE/EIS-0240 Summary, 1996 (5MB PDF - FAS)

> View DOE Record of Decision (Federal Register: August 5, 1996 (Volume 61, Number 151) p. 40619-40629):

"SUMMARY: The Department of Energy (DOE) has decided to implement a program to make surplus highly enriched uranium (HEU) non-weapons-usable by blending it down to low-enriched uranium (LEU), as specified in the Preferred Alternative in the Disposition of Surplus Highly Enriched Uranium Final Environmental Impact Statement (HEU Final EIS, DOE/EIS-0240, June 1996). DOE will gradually sell up to 85 percent of the resulting LEU over time for commercial use as fuel feed for nuclear power plants to generate electricity (including 50 metric tons of HEU and 7,000 tons of natural uranium that will be transferred to the United States Enrichment Corporation), and will dispose of the remaining LEU as low-level radioactive waste. This program applies to a nominal 200 metric tons of United States-origin HEU that the President has declared, or may declare, surplus to defense needs. [...]"

> See also:

 


Global Nuclear Fuel - Americas, L.L.C., Wilmington nuclear fuel plant, North Carolina

NRC License No. SNM-1097, Docket No. 07001113

Aerial View: Google Maps · MSRMaps

> See also: GE Silex laser isotope separation enrichment demonstration facility project in Wilmington, North Carolina

 

Unanalyzed criticality hazard identified at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant

"At 1700 EDT on June 16, 2017 it was determined that an unanalyzed condition was identified that failed to meet performance criteria. This report is conservatively being made in accordance with 10CFR70 Appendix A (b)(1).
In the powder process, a non-radioactive additive is added to a can of uranium in a hood. A previous process hazard analysis (PHA) determined that a criticality in the associated HEPA filters was not credible during this step. A recent update to a criticality analysis identified a potential condition where small amounts of uranium could build up in the HEPA filter over decades. [...]" (NRC Event Notification Report for June 26, 2017, Event No. 52811 )

Contaminated scrap released by GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant sets off alarm at metal recycle center

"A shipment of contaminated stainless steel metal piping containing low enriched uranium associated with the Fuel Manufacturing Operation (FMO) waste treatment facility was not properly surveyed and thus inadvertently transported to a local metal recycle center on September 29, 2016. The material set off the portal monitor radiation alarm(s) at the recycling facility and was immediately returned to the GNF-A facility.
Initial assessments of the material, after it had been returned to the GNF-A facility, were based upon SNM 1097, Section 1.3.2, 'Authorized Guidelines for Contamination-Free Articles'. Under those Section 1.3.2 guidelines, the material did not appear to meet the reporting requirements of 10 CFR 20.2203. On or about March 13, 2017, based on additional survey results and volumetric determinations, GNF-A determined the uranium concentration in the material exceeded ten times the volumetric license release limit of 30 pCi/gram authorized for the disposal of industrial waste treatment products in SNM 1097, Section 1.3.6.1 and met the reporting requirement of 10 CFR 20.2203." (GNF-A Written Report - Contaminated Material in Unrestricted Area, Mar. 20, 2017 [emphasis added])

Violation of NRC rules at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant

During an NRC inspection conducted on October 17 through 21, 2016, a violation of NRC requirements was identified. In accordance with the NRC Enforcement Policy.
On or before October 20, 2016, the licensee failed to ensure the requirements of the Radiological Contingency and Emergency Plan were implemented through approved documented procedures. Specifically, three EO [Emergency Organization] position holders failed to participate in (or fill the role of a Controller/Evaluator) a minimum of one drill (or actual qualifying event) that permitted demonstration and evaluation of the major responsibilities for the positon within a two year period, thus not completing their biennial requalification drill as required in WI-20-108-01, Rev. 2.2. (NRC integrated inspection report and notice of violation, Jan. 26, 2017)

Violation of criticality rules at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant

During an NRC inspection conducted on September 12 through 15, 2016, a violation of NRC requirements was identified. "Specifically, the licensee failed to establish adequate procedures to ensure the passive geometric features of the dry scrap recovery furnace screener (IROFS 301-05) were maintained. This is a Severity Level IV violation [...]"
> Download NRC Inspection Report and Notice of Violation, Oct. 28, 2016 (PDF)

NRC finds unspecified violation at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant

During an inspection conducted on September 19 - 22, 2016, NRC found a Severity Level IV violation of NRC requirements at the GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant. Details are withheld.
> Download NRC Inspection Report and Notice of Violation, October 17, 2016 (PDF)

Violation of criticality rules at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant

"It was discovered at 2100 on January 18, 2016 that an accumulation of uranium oxide powder existed that indicated a degradation of an IROFS [Items Relied on for Safety] in the dry scrap recycle furnace off-gas system. Approximately 42 kg of uranium oxide powder was removed from the favorable geometry off-gas dropout. The degraded IROFS resulted in a failure to meet performance requirements in the event of a fire. The dry scrap recycle operation had been shut down on 1/14/16 and was not in operation at the time."
(GNF letter to NRC, Mar. 11, 2016)

NRC finds unspecified violation at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant

During an inspection conducted on August 24 - 27, 2015, NRC found a Severity Level IV violation of NRC requirements at the GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant. Details are withheld.
> Download NRC Inspection Report and Notice of Violation, Oct. 5, 2015 (PDF)

Violation of criticality rules at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant

"It was determined at 1200 [EDT] on 7/13/14, that one of the Items Relied on for Safety (IROFS) associated with the Dry Scrap Recycle operation failed to meet performance requirements. At approximately 1730 [EDT] on July 12, 2014, a potable water line (1/2 inch poly) failed and resulted in a release of approximately 10 gallons of water into the area. The leak was contained and cleaned up. However, this water release is a failure of IROFS 900-03 for Moderation Restriction.
Although the second IROFS (Process Equipment Barriers IROFS 301) prevented moderation intrusion into equipment and containers, it alone was not sufficient to meet performance requirements." (Event Number: 50276, NRC Event Notification Report for July 14, 2014)

Violation of criticality rules at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant - NRC conducts special inspection

"It was determined at 1:30PM today (3/28/14) that one of the Items Relied on for Safety (IROFS) associated with the Dry Conversion Process recycle operation was inoperable. Although the second IROFS preventing moderation intrusion to the recycle container continued to operate within its allowable parameters, it alone was not sufficient to meet performance requirements. [...]" (Event Number: 49969, NRC Event Notification Report for March 31, 2014)
> Download NRC Begins Special Inspection at Global Nuclear Fuel in Wilmington, NRC release Apr. 14, 2014 (PDF)

Violation of criticality rules at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant

"On October 26, 2011 at approximately 3:00 p.m., a deficiency was identified during a routine criticality safety review of a proposed revision to an operating procedure for transporting and storing 3-gallon cans. One of the controls needed to meet double contingency was not available to restrict the movement of cans that exceed the specified mass limit for these storage locations. This resulted in a condition where the mass control documented in the criticality safety analysis had not been maintained. The second control, geometry, was maintained." (Event Number: 47380, NRC Event Notification Report for October 28, 2011)

Violation of criticality rules at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant

On Sep. 15, 2011, GNF reported a failure to maintain double contingency criteria:
"During a GNF-A Fuel Manufacturing Operation (FMO) Integrated Safety Analysis (ISA) team walk-down of HVAC systems in the decontamination facility area, it was observed that a log entry for a waste-oil can mass was greater than the limit specified in procedural requirements.
Upon further investigation it was determined at 3:30PM on September 14, 2011 that an operator had incorrectly processed a waste oil can with a gross weight in excess of the limit specified by criticality safety requirements. This resulted in a condition where one of the two controls on mass documented as being necessary to meet double contingency had not been maintained. The second criticality control on mass was maintained at all times."
> View NRC Event Notification Report for September 16, 2011

Violation of criticality rules at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant

On Sep. 14, 2011, GNF reported a potential failure to maintain double contingency criteria:
"As part of the ongoing GNF-A Fuel Manufacturing Operation (FMO) Integrated Safety Analysis (ISA) project, reviews of documentation for scrap accumulation hoods were performed that identified procedural actions that were different than described in the criticality safety analysis. It was determined at approximately 2:45 PM on September 13, 2011 that uranium mixed with small amounts of moderator were not prevented from movement into these hoods. This resulted in a condition where the moderation criticality control documented as being necessary to meet double contingency may not have been maintained. The other criticality control on geometry was maintained at all times. [...]"
> View NRC Event Notification Report for September 15, 2011

Violation of criticality rules at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant; NRC proposes $17,500 penalty

On March 2, 2011, the NRC was notified through Event Notification 46650 that GNF-A had failed to maintain mass control of UO2 powder in the sinter test grinding station HEPA filter enclosure. Specifically, on March 1, 2011, GNF staff identified that approximately 46 kilograms of UO2 powder had been present in the sinter test grinder filter housing, which was greater than the analyzed safe mass to prevent a criticality.
Based on the results of an inspection conducted March 14 - 18, 2011, the NRC has determined that two Severity Level IV violations of NRC requirements occurred. (NRC Special Inspection Report and Notice of Violation, June 29, 2011, ADAMS Acc. No. ML111810118 )

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $17,500 civil penalty against Global Nuclear Fuel - Americas LLC in Wilmington, N.C., for violations of NRC requirements related to a March incident at the fuel manufacturing facility. The violations involved a failure of Global Nuclear Fuel’s staff to maintain mass control of uranium oxide in particulate air filters in one area of the facility.
> Download NRC news release Nov. 15, 2011 (PDF)
> Download Notice of Violation EA-11-095, Nov. 14, 2011 (PDF)

NRC finds two violations at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant

During an NRC inspection conducted February 22-26, 2010, two violations of NRC requirements were identified: the licensee failed to report within 24 hours of discovery, a loss or degradation of an item relied on for criticality safety, and, the licensee failed to install automatic fire detection equipment in the Process Technology laboratory area where fire hazards were present. (ADAMS Acc. No. ML100850027 )

NRC finds five apparent violations at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant

During inspections conducted from November 7, 2008, through August 28, 2009, five apparent violations were identified and are being considered for escalated enforcement action. The apparent violations involve the failure to identify credible accident scenarios during process hazard analyses or document them in the Integrated Safety Analysis Reference Report; the failure to identify criticality accident scenarios as high consequence events; and three separate failures to designate controls as items relied on for safety.
"The apparent violations are of concern to the NRC because they appear to indicate a programmatic issue with your Integrated Safety Analysis. Specifically, these apparent violations indicate a systematic and consistent failure to identify and categorize accident sequences and declare items relied on for safety in accordance with your Integrated Safety Analysis methodology and the requirements of 10 CFR Part 70." (NRC letter to GNF, Nov. 6, 2009, ADAMS Acc. No. ML093100078 )

Violation of criticality rules at GNF Wilmington nuclear fuel plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has established a Special Inspection Team at the Global Nuclear Fuel - Americas commercial nuclear fuel plant near Wilmington, N.C., to inspect and assess facts and circumstances associated with an event in which moisture was detected on Jan. 30, 2008, in a process vessel which should not have contained moisture so as to prevent a nuclear criticality.
> View NRC release Feb. 1, 2008

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has proposed a $16,250 civil penalty against Global Nuclear Fuel - Americas, L.L.C., for incorrectly categorizing an emergency level declaration during a Jan. 30, 2008, incident at the plant's low-enriched uranium processing line in Wilmington, N.C.
> View NRC release Aug. 14, 2008

GNF requests 40-year license renewal for Wilmington nuclear fuel plant

On April 2, 2007, Global Nuclear Fuel - Americas, L.L.C., requested a 40-year license renewal for its Wilmington nuclear fuel plant, North Carolina.

Notice of License Renewal Request for Global Nuclear Fuel -- Americas, LLC, Wilmington, North Carolina, and Opportunity To Request a Hearing.
A request for a hearing must be filed by August 17, 2007.
Federal Register: June 18, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 116) p. 33539-33541 (download full text )

On June 25, 2009, NRC approved the requested license renewal for the continued operation of GNF's Wilmington nuclear fuel plant for 40 years. No hearing requests were received.
Federal Register: July xx, 2009 (Volume 74, Number xx) p. xx

 


Westinghouse Electric Co. Columbia nuclear fuel plant, South Carolina

NRC License No. SNM-1107, Docket No. 07001151

Aerial View: Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

Workers in Westinghouse Electric Co. Columbia nuclear fuel plant receive individual radiation doses twice average

According to NRC's report on occupational radiation exposure at NRC-licensed facilities in 2015, the workers receiving the highest individual doses in the U.S. nuclear fuel industry are those employed at Westinghouse Electric Co.'s Columbia nuclear fuel plant. In 2015, the individual TEDE (total effective dose equivalent) annual dose of workers with measurable dose was 1.98 mSv at this plant, while the average for all five fuel facilities covered was 1.06 mSv.
> Download: Occupational Radiation Exposure at Commercial Nuclear Power Reactors and Other Facilities 2015, Forty-Eighth Annual Report , NUREG-0713 Vol. 37, U.S. NRC, Sep. 2017

 

 

Toshiba's nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Co declares bankrupt

Toshiba Corporation hereby gives notice that Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC), WEC's U.S. affiliates and Toshiba Nuclear Energy Holdings (UK) Limited (TNEH (UK)), a holding company for Westinghouse Group operating companies outside the U.S. (collectively, the "WEC Group"), have resolved to file for a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code on March 29, 2017 (local time) with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of New York.
> Download: Toshiba Corp. release Mar. 29, 2017 (PDF)

 

Violation of criticality rules at Westinghouse Columbia nuclear fuel plant

On November 8, 2016, the licensee failed to remove LOTO [lockout/tagout] and restart nozzles. Specifically, the licensee failed to reestablish process water flow to the spray nozzles for the front of the S-1030 scrubber packing section. The failure to reestablish process water flow resulted in a degradation to the ability of IROFS [items relied on for safety] VENTS1030-105 to perform its intended safety function of preventing excess uranium accumulation for approximately 23 hours. (NRC Integrated Inspection Report and Notice of Violation, Jan. 27, 2017)

 

Unexpected accumulation of uranium-bearing material in air scrubber of Westinghouse Columbia nuclear fuel plant

More uranium accumulation found in scrubber at Westinghouse Columbia nuclear fuel fabrication facility: "On August 17, 2017 at 11:17 a.m., it was reported to the Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) department that additional residual material located within the out of service S-1056 scrubber was found. Material in this out of service system was previously reported on August 7, 2016. The material was removed and placed into favorable geometry storage. The material has been quantified and determined to contain less than 80 grams of uranium, which is well within safety margins." (NRC Event Notification Report for August 21, 2017, Event Number 52090 )

NRC issues Confirmatory Order on uranium accumulation in scrubber and ventilation systems at Westinghouse Columbia nuclear fuel fabrication facility:
> Federal Register Volume 82, Number 155 (Monday, August 14, 2017) p. 37903-37908 (download full text )
> Download: NRC release Aug. 11, 2017 (PDF)
> Download: NRC cover letter · Confirmatory Order , Aug. 9, 2017
> Access Docket ID NRC-2017-0176

NRC issues report on lessons learned from uranium accumulation in scrubber and ventilation systems at Westinghouse Columbia nuclear fuel fabrication facility:
> Download NRC report, Jan. 30, 2017

Unexpected accumulation of uranium-bearing material in air scrubber of Westinghouse Columbia nuclear fuel plant rated INES Level 2: "[...] For this event, the maximum potential consequences were Level 3 or 4 because, 'The main hazard from a criticality excursion is exposure of personnel due to high radiation fields from direct neutron and gamma radiation,...' The number of remaining safety layers were zero because all of the controls relied on to prevent criticality were compromised. Therefore, this event is rated a Level 2. While there were significant failures in safety provisions, there were no actual consequences." (NRC INES Event Rating Dec. 7, 2016 )

NRC Augmented Inspection Team report scathes management of criticality hazards at Westinghouse Columbia nuclear fuel plant: "The Augmented Inspection Team (AIT) was established to inspect and assess the facts and circumstances surrounding the failure to meet the performance requirements of 10 CFR 70.61 due to exceeding the nuclear criticality safety (NCS) mass limit in a process off-gas scrubber. The team reviewed the record of activities that occurred, interviewed personnel, and conducted facility walkdowns. [...]
The AIT determined that items relied on for safety (IROFS) for the S-1030 scrubber did not ensure that a criticality accident was highly unlikely. The IROFS were not sufficient to prevent exceeding the NCS mass limit of the CSE. Westinghouse incorrectly assumed that only minor amounts of uranium were expected to accumulate in the S-1030 transition and scrubber vessel packing; that low uranium concentration would be present within the scrubber vessel; minimal amounts of small uranium particles were entrained within the intake ductwork; and that the scrubber would constantly dilute the uranium concentration with the addition of makeup water during normal operation and anticipated upsets. As a result, the controls and measures to protect against a criticality were not sufficient to assure subcriticality conditions. The AIT also determined that Westinghouse did not establish adequate management measures to ensure IROFS related to ventilation systems were designed, implemented, and maintained such that they were available and reliable to perform their function when needed.
The AIT also concluded that Westinghouse failed to provide adequate levels of oversight, enforcement, and accountability to the organizations directly involved with configuration management, operations, and maintenance of the wet ventilation systems. Specifically, the management team did not enforce procedure compliance and did not promote the importance of problem identification and resolution, even though established inspection criteria and procedure actions were available. Management did not drive corrective actions to be taken when action limits were exceeded, did not display accountability for monitoring criticality safety controls through management measures, and had a less than adequate questioning attitude that led to non-conservative decision making."
> Download: NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION AUGMENTED INSPECTION TEAM REPORT NO. 70-1151/2016-007 , Oct. 26, 2016 (23.3 MB PDF)

NRC allows restart of operations at Westinghouse Columbia nuclear fuel plant: On Oct. 20, 2016, NRC authorized Westinghouse to restart conversion area process equipment and the S-1030 scrubber system.

NRC issues Information Notice requesting nuclear fuel facility operators to consider potential for uranium accumulation in off-gas ventilation and scrubber systems:
> View here

Westinghouse concedes "long-standing deficiencies" led to accumulation of uranium in air scrubber of Westinghouse Columbia nuclear fuel plant: An internal review of a Columbia nuclear fuel factory has identified multiple problems with how the site has been managed for atomic safety through the years. The report, compiled by plant operator Westinghouse, says the company wasn't always tough-minded enough about safety and it didn't ensure employees knew enough about nuclear safety while operating some of the factory's equipment.
Westinghouse's report cited "long standing deficiencies" that led to a buildup of uranium in excess of federal nuclear safety standards in part of the Bluff Road plant.
The 47-year-old plant employs about 1,000 people, but at least 170 have been laid off temporarily while Westinghouse and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission separately investigate why uranium built up in apparent violation of federal standards.
Buildups of atomic material are of concern because they can lead to nuclear accidents, although that did not occur in this case. Nuclear safety advocates say Westinghouse needs to redouble its efforts to make sure other, more serious problems don't arise.
"There were no actual safety-related consequences as a result of the accumulation, but the potential for such consequences may have existed," the NRC said in a recent news release. The NRC has scheduled a public meeting Tuesday night [Sep. 27] in Columbia to discuss problems identified this past summer at Westinghouse. (The State Sep. 22, 2016)
> Download: Westinghouse Reported Event #EN52090 60-Day Follow-Up Report , Sep. 12, 2016 (3MB PDF)
> Download: NRC release Sep. 19, 2016 (161k PDF)

Inspectors find another unexpected accumulation of uranium-bearing material in air scrubber of Westinghouse Columbia nuclear fuel plant: An atomic safety investigation at a Columbia nuclear fuel factory uncovered additional problems this week as inspectors discovered more radioactive material had built up in the plant than they previously knew about.
An air pollution control system pipe potentially contained enough uranium to cause a nuclear accident at the Westinghouse plant on Bluff Road, records show. The amount of uranium found in the pipe might have exceeded a federal safety limit, according to a federal event notification report.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission became aware of the problem Tuesday (Aug. 23), about five weeks after Westinghouse notified the agency that uranium had built up in another part of the air pollution scrubber system, records show. In that case, the amount of uranium found in the scrubber was three times higher than federal safety limits, the notification report says.
This week's discovery, like the uranium buildup that surfaced in July, did not pose any danger to the surrounding community and no workers at the factory were harmed, according to the NRC. But buildups of nuclear material are a concern.
A buildup of atomic material can cause accidents that could endanger plant employees working nearby. Too much uranium in one place can increase chances of a "critical event," which federal officials say is one of the most serious problems at a nuclear fuel plant. (The State Aug. 26, 2016)
> View NRC Event Notification Report for August 24, 2016, Event No. 52090

Westinghouse voluntarily shuts down part of Columbia nuclear fuel plant as NRC investigates cause of unexpected accumulation of uranium-bearing material in air scrubber: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently dispatched a special inspection team to the plant after learning that enough uranium had been found in an air scrubber to raise concerns. The buildup did not result in any "safety related consequences" or injuries, but the NRC said "the potential for such consequences may have existed." Records indicate that the amount of uranium exceeded a limit of 29 kilograms. While the NRC investigation is ongoing, the plant's operator, Westinghouse, voluntarily shut down part of the facility and began notifying some employees this week of a "temporary workforce reduction," said company spokeswoman Courtney Boone.
NRC spokesman Roger Hannah said nuclear materials can cause an atomic reaction if not handled carefully, which is why the agency is taking the matter seriously. "In a fuel facility, probably the biggest safety issue is getting either too much material or material in the wrong configuration so that you could potentially have criticality - basically a chain reaction that could cause some kind of flash explosion," Hannah said Thursday (Aug. 11). "It's not as much of an off-site risk as it is to employees and workers in the area."
(The State Aug. 11, 2016)

NRC sends Augmented Inspection Team to assess unexpected accumulation of uranium-bearing material in air scrubber of Westinghouse Columbia nuclear fuel plant: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today is sending an Augmented Inspection Team to the Westinghouse nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Columbia, S.C., to assess the unexpected accumulation of an excessive amount of uranium-bearing material in a plant component.
An air scrubber, which removes unwanted material from a number of processes at the plant, was undergoing an annual inspection and cleanout. During that work, an unexpectedly large amount of material was found inside the scrubber. Initially, it was thought the material did not contain a significant amount of uranium, but upon analysis, it was found that the uranium levels were higher in that area than allowed under NRC requirements in the facility license.
The initial problem was reported to the NRC July 14, agency records show. A report provided Thursday by the NRC said a limit of 29 kilograms of uranium was exceeded. The material found contained 87 kilograms of uranium, agency records show. (NRC Aug. 1, 2016)

 

Westinghouse Columbia nuclear fuel plant shipped fuel assemblies exceeding limit for artificial uranium istope U-236

On Nov. 16, 2015, Westinghouse notified NRC that "During investigations from late January to early March 2015, Westinghouse discovered and confirmed that it had shipped seven fuel assemblies that exceeded the U236 limit for unirradiated uranium during the year 2005."

 

Westinghouse Columbia nuclear fuel plant requests increase of possession limit for U-235 to pursue "business opportunities" involving enriched UF6 interim storage

On Nov. 11, 2014, Westinghouse submitted to NRC a license amendment request to increase the material possession limit for U-235:
"An amendment request to increase the material possession limit for U-235 is needed so that Westinghouse can pursue business opportunities involving uranium hexafluoride (UF6) interim storage that have arisen out of government contracts, changing enricher dynamics, and customer storage requests. This proposed possession limit increase will enable Westinghouse to expand its UF6 storage capacity."
> Download Westinghouse license amendment request , Nov. 11, 2014 (ML14315A078)

On Nov. 21, 2014, Westinghouse provided additional information, including the following, among others:
"As of November 2014, there are around 1,000 cylinders containing SNM [Special Nuclear Material, here: enriched uranium] on site. Most of the cylinders (74%) on site are owned by enrichers (USEC, Urenco, Areva, TENEX, CNEIC). The balance is a combination of Transporters (8%), Department of Energy (6%) and Westinghouse (12%). Also, under certain storage arrangements with our utility customers, they may provide the cylinders."
> Download Additional information to support license amendment request , Nov. 21, 2014 (ML14328A605)

 

NRC to hold meeting on seismic and criticality prevention programs at Westinghouse Electric Co. Columbia nuclear fuel plant

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 to discuss ongoing programs of interest at the Westinghouse Fuel Facility, which is located near Columbia, S.C.
At the meeting, Westinghouse officials will discuss the facility's seismic program, including the results of an independent consultant's review of how the plant would respond to an earthquake. Westinghouse will also discuss the status of its ongoing project to enhance safety and improve procedures to prevent nuclear criticalities.
> Download NRC release Dec. 28, 2012 (PDF)

 

Westinghouse requests 40-year license renewal for Columbia nuclear fuel plant

On Nov. 30, 2012, - only three months after NRC granted a 15-year license renewal (!) - Westinghouse Electric Co requested a 40-year license renewal for its Columbia nuclear fuel plant.
On Feb. 7, 2013, NRC notified Westinghouse that it plans to defer the review of the application until January 2014.

On Feb. 27, 2015, the NRC announced an opportunity to request a hearing and to petition for leave to intervene on WEC's application for a 40-year license renewal.
A request for a hearing or petition for leave to intervene must be filed by April 28, 2015.
> Federal Register Volume 80, Number 39 (Friday, February 27, 2015) p. 10727-10730 (download full text )
> Access Docket ID NRC-2015-0039

 

NRC grants 15-year license renewal for Westinghouse Electric Co Columbia nuclear fuel plant

Westinghouse Electric Company submitted a revised license application dated March 20, 2012.
On Aug. 8, 2012, NRC granted a 15-year license renewal.

 

Violation of criticality rules at WEC Columbia nuclear fuel plant, South Carolina

On Feb. 25, 2011, NRC issued a Notice of Violation to Westinghouse Electric Company for violations of criticality protection rules identified at its Columiba nuclear fuel plant.

 

Spill at WEC Columbia nuclear fuel plant, South Carolina

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has dispatched a Special Inspection Team to the Westinghouse commercial nuclear fuel plant near Columbia, S.C., to review the circumstances associated with a Jan. 24 event involving a spill of about 200 gallons of wastewater containing ammonia and low levels of uranium.
The spill was the result of a pump failure and operators shut down the process after a few minutes. Plant employees cleaned the area, no workers were exposed to significant concentrations and no medical attention was needed. Westinghouse reported the event to the NRC on Jan. 25 and the NRC staff decided that a special inspection to review the facts surrounding the event, assess the Westinghouse response and evaluate the company's corrective actions was the appropriate course of action.
> View NRC release Feb. 1, 2010

NRC proposes $17,500 fine against Westinghouse for violations at Columbia nuclear fuel plant: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has proposed a $17,500 civil penalty against Westinghouse Electric Company for violations of nuclear safety requirements at its commercial nuclear fuel plant in Columbia, S.C. NRC officials said the proposed civil penalty is based on violations identified during an NRC review of a Jan. 24, 2010 event involving a spill inside the plant of about 200 gallons of wastewater containing ammonia and low levels of uranium.
> Download NRC release Nov. 4, 2010 (PDF)

 

Nuclear fuel pellets missing from WEC Columbia nuclear fuel plant, South Carolina

The operators of a Bluff Road nuclear fuel plant can't find 25 pounds of radioactive material - and federal investigators say that's a problem. Officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission suspect someone at the Westinghouse nuclear fuel factory deliberately moved uranium fuel pellets without properly accounting for them. Neither Westinghouse nor the NRC has been able to pinpoint the person. Investigators say the fuel pellets, first reported missing in May, pose little danger to the public because the material likely never left the site. The pellets were probably recycled in the fuel plant, according to the NRC. (The State Oct. 2, 2009)
> View NRC release Sep. 17, 2009
> Download Notice of Violation and NRC Inspection Report , Oct. 15, 2010

 

U.S. NRC issues Confirmatory Order regarding falsifications at Westinghouse Electric Company's Columbia nuclear fuel facility

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a Confirmatory Order to Westinghouse Electric Company's Columbia facility as part of a settlement agreement involving the actions of a former contractor foreman. That individual deliberately created inaccurate training records for his work group and also falsified ventilation system data when the required readings had not been taken. The foreman caused Westinghouse to be in violation of NRC requirements.
> View NRC release Aug. 7, 2009

 

NRC increases oversight of Westinghouse's fuel fabrication plant in Columbia

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is increasing oversight of Westinghouse's fuel fabrication plant in Columbia, South Carolina, after the plant's latest performance assessment found problems with safety operations and facility support, the agency said on Wednesday.
Normally the plant is evaluated once every two years. It will now be evaluated every 18 months until the agency sees improvement, NRC spokesman Roger Hannah said. The agency's last assessment, for the period February 13, 2007 to February 13, 2009, found two Severity Level III violations and six Severity Level IV violations. (Platts Apr. 15, 2009)
> View NRC release Apr. 15, 2009

 

Westinghouse Electric Co plans construction of new dry conversion process at Columbia nuclear fuel plant (South Carolina)

By letter dated July 3, 2007, Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC (WEC) notified the NRC that it plans to install a new Dry Conversion Process at the Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility (CFFF). WEC has an existing dry conversion process within the main manufacturing building at the CFFF that was operated from approximately 1985 to 1995. This facility was mothballed in place for business reasons. Rather than restoring the current processing equipment, WEC plans to construct a new building within its Controlled Access Area to meet current industry codes and standards.
On Dec. 15, 2008, WEC notified the NRC it "plans to delay for business reasons implementation of a project to install a new Dry Conversion Facility at the Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility (CFFF)."

 

Employee burned with hydrofluoric acid at Westinghouse Electric Co's Columbia nuclear fuel plant (South Carolina)

On February 26, 2007, an employee was burnt with hydrofluoric acid (HF) and sent to the hospital for treatment. The root cause of the event was determined to be that the uranium hexafluoride (UF6) cylinder valve failed to seat. (WEC/NRC, Dec. 18, 2007)

 

Westinghouse Electric Co requests 20-year license renewal for Columbia nuclear fuel plant (South Carolina)

NRC issues notice of license renewal request of Westinghouse Electric Company, Columbia, SC, and opportunity to request a hearing.
Federal Register: December 29, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 249) p. 77195-77197 (download full text )

On April 19, 2007, the NRC staff issued an Environmental Assessment concluding that the renewal of the license will not result in a significant impact to the environment.

 

NRC proposes $24,000 fine for violations of criticality safety procedures

> View NRC release Jul 30, 2004
> Download NRC INSPECTION REPORT NO. 70-1151/2004-001 (May 13, 2004) (PDF)
> Download IR 07001151-04-001, Corrected page 18 (June 1, 2004) (PDF)
> Download June 3, 2004, Predecisional Enforcement Conference presentation slides (PDF)
> Download Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty, EA-04-096 (July 28, 2004) (PDF)


DOE Savannah River Site, Aiken, South Carolina

ATSDR assessment finds no health threat from airborne emissions at Savannah River site

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is seeking public comment on a public health assessment released today evaluating whether exposures to radioactive materials and other chemical pollutants in the air around the Savannah River site could affect human health.
The Savannah River site is a U.S. Department of Energy facility in Aiken, South Carolina that was used in manufacturing nuclear materials for weapons and other medical and industrial purposes. All nuclear reactors at the site were permanently shut down by 1993. ATSDR assessed whether people living around the site were exposed to airborne radioactive and chemical contaminants from 1993 through 2010.
ATSDR concluded that airborne emissions of radioactive materials and most chemical pollutants from the Savannah River site were below levels that could cause harmful health effects. Limited data were available on a few air pollutants (trichloroethylene, South Carolina Standard No.8 toxic air pollutants, sulfuric acid), so the agency could not determine whether they were at levels that could affect health.
The public comment period ends August 12, 2013.
> View ATSDR release July 1, 2013
> Download Draft Evaluation of OffSite Air Contamination From The Savannah River Site (USDOE), July 1, 2013 (8.5M PDF)

The final report was released on Feb. 7, 2014.
> View ATSDR release Feb. 7, 2014
> Download Evaluation of OffSite Air Contamination From the Savannah River Site (USDOE), Feb. 3, 2014 (4.3MB PDF)

 

ATSDR assessment finds no radiation-based health threat from eating plants and animals found near the Savannah River Site, while mercury exposure might increase health risks

Eating plants and animals grown or produced near the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River Site (SRS) does not expose people to harmful levels of radioactive contaminants, says the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in a recently released public health assessment. However, consuming large amounts of bowfin, largemouth bass, and catfish from certain portions of the Savannah River might increase health risks from mercury exposure, especially to children or other sensitive populations.
> View ATSDR release March 26, 2012
> Download Public Health Assessment for Evaluation of Exposures to Contaminants in Biota Originating from the Savannah River Site (USDOE), Aiken, South Carolina, Feb. 29, 2012 (17.9M PDF - ATSDR)

 

Surplus Plutonium Disposition

Groups demand termination of plutonium disposition EIS process

On May 8, 2013, fifteen environmental groups sent a letter to DOE demanding the termination of the plutonium disposition EIS process: "Given that the plutonium disposition program is now under review and subject to change, the EIS as is now being pursued is no longer valid and must be halted."
> View/download: group letter to DOE, May 8, 2013

U.S. DOE issues Draft Supplemental EIS on Surplus Plutonium Disposition: fabrication into MOX fuel is preferred alternative

The comment period remains open through October 10, 2012.
> Download EIS-0283-S2: Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement - Surplus Plutonium Disposition , U.S. Department of Energy, July 2012
> See also: Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DOE NNSA)

Savannah River Site facility to be used to feed future MOX plant

The federal government is going to use a facility at the Savannah River site near Aiken to produce tons of plutonium oxide for the complex's future mixed-oxide fuel plant. The National Nuclear Security Administration said Monday it has decided to use H-Canyon at the Savannah River Site to produce nearly 4 metric tons of plutonium oxide for the MOX plant. The mixed-oxide, or MOX, plant is designed to dispose of plutonium from dismantled bombs by blending the plutonium with uranium to make commercial reactor fuel. Officials say the H-Canyon decision is saving 90 jobs. The SRS complex once produced plutonium and tritium for atomic bombs. Construction on the MOX facility began in 2007. Officials say the facility is on schedule and should be running in 2016. (Charlotte Observer Oct. 31, 2011)

Plan would send contaminated plutonium from Savannah River Site to New Mexico for disposal

About 500 kilograms of weapons grade plutonium now stored at Savannah River Site could leave South Carolina within four years, according to a proposal to send the tightly guarded material to a permanent disposal site in New Mexico. The plutonium is among six metric tons that is contaminated or otherwise unsuitable for conversion to commercial nuclear reactor fuel in the government's mixed oxide "mox" plant under construction at the site. "We already know that, no matter what we wanted to do, we cannot make it suitable for mox," said Jim Giusti, an Energy Department spokesman. "Instead of having it sit here, we know we can blend it with materials that remove the security requirements for it, and it can be disposed of as transuranic waste."
According to an environmental bulletin (400k PDF) issued Wednesday (Oct. 26), the plutonium would be moved to the government's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico during a series of 120 shipments over a three-year period. The site, near the city of Carlsbad, includes a repository 2,000 feet below the surface within layers of geologic salt. Before being shipped, the plutonium would be blended with a classified material, known only as "stardust," that can convert highly contaminated plutonium into a less dangerous form that is also proliferation resistant. "It would then become very difficult and very expensive for anyone to try to recover the plutonium," Giusti said. "It would also no longer be required to have the high security safeguards that are now required."
The bulk of the government's surplus plutonium - about 34 metric tons from about 17,000 dismantled warheads - is scheduled to be processed at a $4.8 billion mox plant, scheduled for startup in 2016. The material would be blended with traditional uranium to make fuel suitable for use in commercial reactors. (The Augusta Chronicle Oct. 26, 2011)
> Download Interim Action Determination, Disposition of Certain Plutonium Materials Stored at the Savannah River Site , Oct. 17, 2011 (880k PDF)

DOE issues amended Notice of Intent to modify the scope of the Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and Conduct Additional Public Scoping

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces its intent to modify the scope of the Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SPD Supplemental EIS, DOE/EIS-0283-S2) and to conduct additional public scoping. DOE issued its Notice of Intent \1\ (NOI) to prepare the SPD Supplemental EIS on March 28, 2007 (72 FR 14543). DOE now intends to revise the scope of the SPD Supplemental EIS to refine the quantity and types of surplus weapons-usable plutonium material, evaluate additional alternatives, and no longer consider in detail one alternative identified in the NOI (ceramic can-in-canister immobilization). Also, DOE had identified a glass can-in-canister immobilization approach as its preferred alternative in the NOI; DOE will continue to evaluate that alternative but currently does not have a preferred alternative.
DOE now proposes to analyze a new alternative to install the capability in K-Area at the Savannah River Site (SRS) to, among other things, disassemble nuclear weapons pits (a weapons component) and convert the plutonium metal to an oxide form for fabrication into mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (MOX) reactor fuel in the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF); under this alternative, DOE would not build the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility (PDCF), which DOE previously decided to construct. This K-Area project also would provide capabilities needed to prepare plutonium for other disposition alternatives evaluated in the SPD Supplemental EIS and to support the ongoing plutonium storage mission in K-Area.
DOE also proposes to evaluate a new alternative to dispose of some surplus non-pit plutonium as transuranic waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, provided the plutonium would meet the criteria for such disposal.
In addition, DOE will analyze the potential environmental impacts of using MOX fuel in up to five reactors owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) at the Sequoyah (near Soddy-Daisy, TN) and Browns Ferry (near Decatur and Athens, AL) nuclear stations. TVA will be a cooperating agency with DOE for preparation and review of the sections of the SPD Supplemental EIS that address operation of TVA reactors.
The public scoping period will end on September 17, 2010.

Federal Register: July 19, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 137) p. 41850-41853 (download full text )

DOE issues Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Surplus Plutonium Disposition at the Savannah River Site

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) intends to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of plutonium disposition capabilities that would be constructed and operated at the Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, South Carolina. DOE completed the Surplus Plutonium Disposition (SPD) EIS (DOE/EIS-0283) in November 1999, and on January 11, 2000, published a Record of Decision (ROD) in the Federal Register (65 FR 1608). DOE decided to dispose of approximately 17 metric tons of plutonium surplus to the nation's defense needs using an immobilization process and up to 33 metric tons by using the surplus plutonium as feedstock in the fabrication of mixed oxide (MOX) fuel to be irradiated in commercial reactors. DOE selected the SRS as the site for all surplus plutonium disposition facilities. Subsequently, DOE cancelled the immobilization portion of its disposition strategy due to budgetary constraints (ROD, 67 FR 19432, April 19, 2002). The selection of the SRS as the location for disposition facilities for up to 50 metric tons of surplus plutonium remains unchanged. Site preparation for the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility at the SRS began in November 2005.
The 2002 decision left DOE with about 13 metric tons of surplus plutonium that does not have a defined path to disposition (about 4 metric tons of the 17 metric tons originally considered for immobilization has been designated for programmatic use). DOE has been investigating alternative disposition technologies and will now prepare an SEIS for Surplus Plutonium Disposition at the SRS (DOE/EIS-0283-S2) to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of those alternatives. DOE's preferred alternative is to construct and operate a vitrification facility within an existing building at the SRS. This facility would immobilize plutonium within a lanthanide borosilicate glass inside stainless steel cans. The cans then would be placed within larger canisters to be filled with vitrified high-level radioactive waste in the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) at the SRS. The canisters would be suitable for disposal in a geologic repository. DOE also would prepare some of the surplus plutonium for disposal by processing it in the H-Canyon at the SRS, then sending it to the high-level waste tanks and DWPF. DOE seeks to take this action to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation worldwide by disposing of surplus plutonium in the United States in a safe and environmentally sound manner. The preferred vitrification technology, along with processing in H-Canyon, would fulfill this need for disposition of surplus plutonium materials that are not planned for disposition via fabrication into MOX fuel.

Federal Register: March 28, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 59) p. 14543-14546 (download full text )

 

ATSDR assessment finds no contamination in off-site groundwater from the Savannah River Site

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has found no contamination in off-site groundwater from the Savannah River Site (SRS). While site-related contaminants were detected in off-site surface water, they pose no health concern. In the course of its investigation, ATSDR also found naturally occurring radium in the municipal drinking water at levels that could pose health concerns, especially for infants drinking formula and juice mixed with tap water. In December 2006, authorities removed from service the well where radium was found.

> View ATSDR release Dec. 21, 2007
> Download Public Health Assessment (PDF)

 

HEU downblending at Savannah River Site

> see also: Downblending of U.S. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) for commercial reactor use

HEU downblending starts at Savannah River Site

The first step in a government program to convert weapons-grade uranium into electricity has begun at Savannah River Site. The process involves combining the excess uranium, which has been chemically enriched, with natural uranium to make low-enriched uranium fuel. The fuel will be used in Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear reactors. In order to get the uranium into its new form and ready for shipment, SRS built or modified buildings for purifying, blending and loading the material. (Augusta Chronicle May 22, 2003)


BWX Technologies, Inc. Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant (Virginia)

NRC License No. SNM-42, Docket No. 07000027

Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

NRC identifies violation of criticality safety procedures at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

"[...] the licensee failed to conduct an ISA [Integrated Safety Analysis] that identified accident sequences involving the effect of natural phenomena, specifically seismic events, on racks on which special nuclear material is stored."
> Download: Inspection Report and Notice of Violation, Aug. 18, 2017 (174 kB PDF)

Loss of parameter control to prevent criticality at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

"On July 4, 2017 at 1533 [EDT] it was identified that two desiccant filters serving a dry train ventilation system on a uranium processing glovebox line contained a uranium compound. The two containers were located within close proximity to one another, but were separated during maintenance activities associated with the equipment prior to knowledge of the uranium mass presence. This was assumed to be a non-uranium-bearing system and there were no documented controls in the Integrated Safety Analysis to prevent accumulations. The system was not included in typical duct surveys to identify such accumulations. Uranium processing operations were shut down and the plant is in the summer shutdown outage. There was no immediate risk of criticality or threat to the safety of workers or the public as a result of this event. Security is controlling access to the area and the area will remain shutdown."
> View: NRC Event Report, Event Number 52840 , July 5, 2017
> Download: 60-Day Written Report for Event Notification Number 52840 , Aug. 9, 2017 (7.2MB PDF)

 

Unanalyzed criticality accident scenario discovered at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

High enriched scrap fuel material is processed in BWXT NOG-Lynchburg's Uranium Recovery facility to reclaim as much of the uranium as possible. The material is dissolved in acid and transferred to a series of horizontal columns where the acid is neutralized. The solution may be transferred to a set of accountability weigh columns for measurement prior to entering the uranium extraction process. The solution is subsequently transferred to a series of horizontal feed columns. Process water is used to periodically flush the horizontal columns during cleanup for materials accountability.
On June 9, 2016, a BWXT Nuclear Criticality Safety (NCS) engineer was notified that a bluish tint had been observed in the favorable geometry process water connection to the horizontal columns. By procedure, a blue dye is added to the acid to aid in its identification in the event of a spill. Further evaluation determined that the favorable geometry process water line was directly connected to the horizontal column system and the presence of the blue dye indicated a potential backflow of uranium bearing solution into the water line. The favorable geometry water line is under constant water pressure. The valves controlling the water flow are normally closed. There is also a check valve in the line to prevent backflow. The line is supplied from a favorable geometry header on the mezzanine above. The header supplies water to other processes in Uranium Recovery, including an unfavorable geometry hot water heater.
The Integrated Safety Analysis (ISA) was reviewed and an accident sequence for this potential backflow could not be identified. On June 9, 2016 at 1330 [EDT] it was the determined the accident sequence was unanalyzed and not properly documented in the ISA. [emphasis added]
> View: NRC Event Report, Event Number 51998 , June 12, 2017

 

NRC identifies safety violation which resulted in "unplanned" fire at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

On January 5, 2016, "the licensee failed to ensure a carrier holder with carrier had been moved to the carrier/boat unloading position. Specifically, the failure to follow OP 0061556 resulted in an unplanned fire in the conversion furnace prefilter located in the direct cooling filter housing and the activation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC)."
> Download NRC Inspection Report and Notice of Violation , May 2, 2016 (159k PDF)

 

NRC identifies safety violation at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

The Container Storage Facility (CSF) wet-pipe sprinkler system "was in a degraded state for approximately 30 minutes due to the concurrent testing of the fire pumps and an existing system impairment that had already isolated part of the fire/service water loop from its water source."
> Download NRC Inspection Report and Notice of Violation , Jan. 28, 2016 (150k PDF)

 

NRC identifies two violations of criticality safety procedures at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has launched a special inspection at the BWX Technologies fuel facility in Lynchburg, Va., to assess the circumstances surrounding the discovery that workers may have exceeded controls for criticality safety in a production line glovebox.
> Download: NRC release Sep. 25, 2015 (PDF)
> Download Inspection Report and Notice of Violation , Dec. 30, 2015 (105k PDF)

 

NRC issues Confirmatory order for weapons use at B&W Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

> Federal Register Volume 80, Number 172 (Friday, September 4, 2015) p. 53588-53591 (download full text )
> Download: NRC staff's technical evaluation , January 29, 2015
> Access: Docket ID NRC-2015-0201

 

NRC finds two violations of criticality safety procedures at B&W Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

> Download NRC Inspection Report and Notice of Violations, June 18, 2015 (178k PDF)

 

NRC finds further violation of criticality safety procedures at B&W Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

> Download Inspection Report and Notice of Violations, Oct. 30, 2012 (160k PDF)

 

NRC finds further violations of criticality safety procedures at B&W Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

> Download Inspection Report and Notice of Violations, Aug. 15, 2012 (272k PDF)

 

NRC finds further violations of criticality safety procedures at B&W Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

> Download Inspection Report and Notice of Violations, Jan. 30, 2012 (1.7M PDF)

 

NRC finds further violation of criticality safety procedures at B&W Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

> Download Inspection Report and Notice of Violation, July 15, 2011 (132k PDF)

 

NRC finds further violation of criticality safety procedures at B&W Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

> Download Inspection Report and Notice of Violation, Nov. 4, 2010 (278k PDF)

 

EPA invites commment on proposal to exclude sludge from wastewater treatment facility at B&W Lynchburg nuclear plant from hazardous waste regulation

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to grant a petition submitted by Babcock & Wilcox Nuclear Operations Group, Inc., [...] to exclude (or delist) on a one-time basis from the lists of hazardous waste, a certain solid waste [sludge produced by its wastewater treatment facility] generated at its Mt. Athos facility near Lynchburg, Virginia.
The Agency is requesting comments on this proposed decision. To make sure we consider your comments on this proposed exclusion, they must be received by November 22, 2010.

> Federal Register: October 7, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 194) p. 62040-62048 (download full text )

 

NRC issues Notice of Opportunity To Request a Hearing and Provide Written Comments on Order Approving Indirect License Transfers of BWX Lynchburg (VA) and Erwin (TN) nuclear fuel facilities

A request for a hearing must be filed by July 1, 2010. Comments must be received by July 10, 2010..

Docket ID NRC-2010-0199

Federal Register: June 11, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 112) p. 33362-33365 (download full text )

 

Alert over potential criticality issue after discharge of highly enriched uranium at B&W Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $35,000 civil penalty against the Babcock & Wilcox facility in Lynchburg, Va., for a violation of NRC requirements related to the company's emergency declaration for an event in July 2009. The violation involved a failure of Babcock & Wilcox facility staff to declare an Alert emergency classification in a timely manner as required by their emergency plan. On July 15, 2009, company employees failed to declare the emergency for more than two hours after they discovered a band saw cooling reservoir did not have the proper criticality controls.
> View NRC release Jan. 12, 2010
> Download Notice of Violation Jan. 11, 2010 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML100110209)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has scheduled a predecisional enforcement conference in Atlanta for Nov. 6, 2009, to discuss with officials of Babcock and Wilcox Nuclear Operations Group in Lynchburg, Va., apparent violations of NRC requirements associated with the loss of nuclear criticality controls on a mechanical saw.
> View NRC release Oct. 29, 2009

A scare at the B&W Nuclear Operations Group in Lynchburg Wednesday (July 15) prompted a review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after oil containing an unknown amount of highly enriched uranium discharged at the facility. The incident began around 7:45 p.m. Wednesday (July 15). According to a news release from the NRC, a saw used to cut fuel components discharged some of that oil. The facility declared an alert and the NRC called in its response teams. Staff at the facility analyzed the materials and determined only a small amount of uranium was in the oil. (WDBJ7 Roanoke News July 16, 2009)

 

Violation of criticality criteria during planned upgrades at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

On Dec. 10, 2008, BWXT Technologies Inc. issued an Event Notification to the NRC, reporting that planned upgrades to the Low Level Dissolver System had led to the use of dissolver trays with an inadequate geometry violating the criticality criteria.

 

NRC orders $32,500 fine for liquid hydrogen fluoride (HF) spill at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has ordered B&W Nuclear Operations Group in Lynchburg, Va., to pay a $32,500 civil penalty for B&W's failure to have adequate instructions for workers on how to neutralize acid spills.
> View NRC release June 17, 2010

On April 28, 2008, a process operator received an exposure of liquid hydrogen fluoride (HF) to the eye, while trying to neutralize a liquid HF spill.

> Download EA-08-204: Notice of Violation and Proposed Imposition of Civil Penalty - $32,500 , NRC Region II, Oct. 20, 2008 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML082960026)

 

NRC releases old event reports for BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant (Virginia)

On May 12, 2008, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission released event notification reports for two nuclear fuel fabrication facilities, Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) in Erwin, Tenn., and BWX Technologies (BWXT) in Lynchburg, Va., for the period 2004 - 2007, which were previously withheld for security reasons.
> View NRC release No. 08-091, May 12, 2008

 

NRC finds further violation of criticality safety procedures at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

"...on October 22, 2007, the licensee failed to conduct operations according to administrative limits (e.g., quantity of containers and moderating materials) established by NCS and provided on an NCS posting. Specifically, a 2.5 liter container and a zip lock bag were observed in the Cyclone Glovebox, located in the Specialty Fuels Facility. The NCS posting on the Cyclone Glovebox limits the glovebox to a maximum of one container with a volume less than or equal to 2.5 liters and also limits the moderating materials permitted in the glovebox to only materials that are necessary for normal operations." (NRC Inspection Report No. 70-27/2007-205, Nov. 14, 2007)

 

NRC finds further violation of criticality safety procedures at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant; proposes $32,500 fine

The apparent violation involved the failure to analyze the nuclear criticality safety associated with the transfer of Raschig ring vacuum cleaners at the facility. This condition was identified on July 26, 2007, when a Raschig ring vacuum cleaner spilled its contents of special nuclear material-bearing solution, during transfer, into an attached plastic bag being used for contamination control. The failure to analyze the transfer activity resulted in special nuclear material-bearing solution being in a condition without any nuclear criticality safety controls. (NRC Inspection Report No. 70-27/2007-006, October 19, 2007)
On Jan. 24, 2008, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Thursday proposed a $32,500 fine against BWX Technologies for this violation of NRC safety requirements.
> View NRC release Jan. 24, 2008

 

NRC announces notice of license amendment, and opportunity to request a hearing for exemption to criticality accident requirements at BWX Technologies, Inc. Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has received, by letter dated May 2, 2007, a license amendment application from BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT), requesting an exemption to the requirements of 10 CFR 70.24, Criticality Accident Requirements, in its materials license, at its Mt. Athos site located in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Federal Register: July 3, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 127) p. 36515-36516 (download full text )

On Nov. 30, 2007, NRC issued an Environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact (FONSI).
Federal Register: December 7, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 235) p. 69234-69236 (download full text )
Federal Register: December 13, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 239) p. 70899-70900 (download full text )

 

License renewal

Notice of Issuance of Renewed License, BWX Technologies, Inc., Lynchburg, VA
Federal Register: April 6, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 66), p. 17195 (download full text )

Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for License Renewal for BWX Technologies, Inc., Lynchburg, VA
Federal Register: March 31, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 62) p. 16348-16349 (download full text )

The NRC provides notice that this is a proceeding on an application for a license amendment regarding the license renewal for BWX Technologies, Inc.
Federal Register: March 6, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 43) p. 11231-11232 (download full text )

 

NRC again finds further violation of criticality safety procedures at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

On Feb. 7, 2005, NRC issued a Notice of Violation to BWXT for violating the criticality safety procedures in the scrap material storage cabinet.

 

NRC again finds further violation of criticality safety procedures at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

On March 31, 2004, NRC inspectors observed special nuclear material in a storage location not in conformance with the nuclear criticality safety posting requirement.

 

NRC finds further violation of criticality safety procedures at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

On March 2, 2004, NRC inspectors observed special nuclear material in a storage location not in conformance with the nuclear criticality safety posting control requirement.

 

NRC finds violation of criticality safety procedures at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

During an inspection held on Feb. 9-13, 2004, the U.S. NRC identified a violation of the prescribed criticality safety procedures: an item had been introduced into the Uranium Recovery facility without the required Nuclear Criticality Safety review and approval.

 

NRC issues Environmental Assessment and FONSI to approve the Final Status Survey Plan and Decommissioning Plan for Industrial Waste Landfill 1 at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

Federal Register: November 14, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 220) p. 64665-64668 (download full text )

 

NRC cites BWXT for inoperable criticality monitors in Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

> View NRC enforcement document: EA-03-119 - BWX Technologies, Inc. (Aug. 11, 2003)

> Download related NRC Information Notice: IN 2003-10 (Aug. 4, 2003) (PDF)

 

NRC relaxes air monitoring requirements for BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

> Federal Register: October 2, 2002 (Vol. 67, No. 191) p. 61929-61931 (download full text )
"Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact of License Amendment for BWX Technologies, Inc.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering the amendment of Special Nuclear Material License SNM-42 to authorize elimination of Lynchburg Technology Center (LTC) stack continuous monitoring and revise other air monitoring stack action levels at the BWX Technologies, Inc., facility located in Lynchburg, VA, and has prepared an Environmental Assessment in support of this action."

The license amendment was issued on September 30, 2002.

 

NRC orders enhanced security at fuel plants

Two uranium fuel plants in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Erwin, Tennessee, must immediately adopt stricter anti-terrorist measures such as more guards, vehicle barriers and patrols, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Aug. 22, 2002. The plants, owned by BWX Technologies Inc. and Nuclear Fuel Services, take enriched uranium and make it into fuel for nuclear reactors. The NRC said it ordered the two plants to adopt similar measures already put in place by U.S. nuclear power plants as a precaution after the Sept. 11 attacks. (Reuters Aug. 22, 2002)

> View NRC release Aug. 22, 2002
> Federal Register: August 27, 2002 (Vol. 67, No. 166) p. 55039-55040 (download full text )

 

Downblending of Highly Enriched Uranium at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

> see also: Downblending of U.S. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) for commercial reactor use

NRC issues license amendment for HEU metal dissolution facility

Federal Register: January 16, 2002 (Vol. 67, No. 11), p. 2251-2254 (download full text ):
"Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact of License Amendment for BWX Technologies, Inc., and Notice of Opportunity To Request a Hearing

ACTION: Amendment of BWX Technologies, Inc., Materials License SNM-42 to authorize the installation and use of the Metal Dissolution Facility."

The Metal Dissolution Facility (MDF) is required for the dissolution of high enriched uranium (HEU) metal to support BWXT's downblending operations.

The license amendment was issued on January 25, 2002.


CE Nuclear Power LLC's Hematite nuclear fuel plant (Missouri)

License No. SNM-33, Docket No. 07000036

Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps

> View more recent issues

BNFL's Hematite, Missouri, nuclear fuel plant closed

The nuclear fuel plant in Hematite, Missouri, was closed in summer 2001. The plant was formerly owned by CE Nuclear Power LLC and is now owned by BNFL/Westinghouse.

Fuel Pellets Deliberately Mixed at CE Nuclear Power LLC's Hematite, Missouri Plant

On June 10, 2000, a plant operator at the CE Nuclear Power LLC's Fuel Fabrication Facility in Hematite, Missouri, identified that several "erbia" pellets were mixed in with a normal lot of uranium oxide pellets. Erbia pellets are used in fuel assemblies as neutron absorbers and the erbia manufacturing process line is separate from the uranium oxide process lines." [...]
"The licensee's investigation team has not yet completed its onsite activity; however, sufficient information has been obtained to conclude that the mixing of erbia pellets was a deliberate act."
NRC PNO June 16, 2000

"Empty" container shipped from Westinghouse-Hematite to Sweden contained fresh fuel pellets

"On May 22, 2000, Westinghouse-Hematite fuel fabrication facility in the U.S. shipped a presumed empty pellet container (drum) to Westinghouse Atom AB in Sweden. When the container was opened in Sweden for re-filling, it was found to contain almost 40 kg of fresh fuel pellets. The pellets are believed to have been produced originally in Sweden and then delivered to Hematite, where they should have been removed. The container should then have been returned to Sweden empty. A preliminary investigation at Hematite indicates that the pellets were natural uranium with gadolinium, however the paper trail is unclear. Because the drum was thought to be empty, standard procedures for nuclear material shipments were not followed. The Swedish nuclear authorities are also investigating the incident. They plan to analyze the pellets and will report the results to us. The investigation in the U.S. is continuing." (NRC Weekly Information Report For the Week Ending June 30, 2000)

Hematite nuclear fuel plant to be closed

"ABB's fuel fabrication plant at Hematite, Missouri, is to close, consolidating most of Westinghouse's US fuel operations at its Columbia plant in South Carolina. Westinghouse is owned by BNFL, and ABB finalised the sale of its nuclear activities to BNFL last week." (UI News Briefing 00.20, May 17, 2000)


AREVA NP Inc. Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant (Virginia)

(formerly Framatome ANP, Framatome Cogema Fuels)
NRC License No. SNM-1168 (terminated), Docket No. 07001201
Virginia Radioactive Materials License No. 680-515-1

Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps

 
> see decommissioning issues

 

NRC terminates licence for Areva's Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

On Sep. 28, 2012, NRC terminated licence SNM-1168 for Areva's Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant. The final decontamination and decommissioning of the facility will be conducted under Areva's Radioactive Materials license with the Commonwealth of Virginia.

 

Areva to close Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

Areva announced Tuesday (Sep. 29) that it plans to move all nuclear fuel-making operations to its Richland plant. The multinational company said it will end fuel production in Lynchburg, Va., and produce fuel assemblies only in Richland, where it has operated for decades. The transition will begin next spring. (The News Tribune Sep. 30, 2009)
By letter dated August 25, 2010, Areva NP, Inc. provided notification to the NRC of its intent to cease fuel manufacturing and the use of special nuclear material at the Mt. Athos Road Site in Lynchburg. This letter also requests postponement of the initiation of decommissioning of the facility.
On Oct. 29, 2010, NRC requested the submission of a decommissioning plan within 12 months. Areva's request to postpone the initiation of decommissioning was denied.

 

Framatome ANP applies for relaxed criticality safety requirements at Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant

On Feb. 27, 2004, Framatome ANP applied for a license amendment to increase the Keff limit, a parameter describing the criticality safety. Framatome requests an increase of the Keff limit for credible abnormal conditions from 0.95 to 0.98 and the Keff limit for normal conditions from 0.87 to 0.95.
On Oct. 4, 2004, Framatome ANP withdrew the license amendment application.

 

License Renewal for Framatome ANP Lynchburg plant

NRC issues EA and FONSI for License Renewal of Framatome ANP Lynchburg plant

Federal Register: May 7, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 88) p. 24521 (view full text )

NRC to issue Finding of No Significant Impact

No requests for a hearing were received. Based on an evaluation of the environmental impacts of the renewal request, the NRC has determined that the proper action is to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact. (NRC Memorandum April 2, 2003)

NRC issues Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment, and Notice of Opportunity for a Hearing

Federal Register: August 9, 2002 (Vol. 67, No. 154) p. 51894-51895 (view full notice )


AREVA NP Inc. Richland nuclear fuel plant (Washington)

(formerly Framatome ANP, Siemens Power Corp., Advanced Nuclear Fuels)
License No. SNM-1227, Docket No. 07001257

Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps

NRC Facility Info (Decommissioning)

 

Loss of criticality safety controls at Areva Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant

During an inspection conducted from August 29 through September 1, 2016, NRC identified a violation of NRC requirements concerning seismic design and failure to arrange for anchor bolt installation inspections of fuel storage racks at Areva's Richland nuclear fuel plant. (NRC Sep. 30, 2016)

NRC identifies violation at Areva Richland nuclear fuel plant - details withheld

> Download: NRC cover letter to Areva NP, Inc. , Aug. 6, 2015 (93k PDF)

NRC increases U-235 posession limit for Areva Richland nuclear fuel plant

On May 14, 2015, NRC amended Materials License SNM-1227 to allow an undisclosed increase in the maximum amount of uranium enriched up to 5.00 wt. % U-235 that the licensee may possess at any one time. (NRC May 14, 2015)

Loss of criticality safety controls at Areva Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant

On October 20, 2014, AREVA Richland staff noticed during the annual PM [Plant Maintenance] that a check valve on the UO2 Building steam supply subsystem failed to prevent backflow as required. (NRC Nov. 10, 2014)

Depleted uranium required for MOX fuel fabrication at MELOX plant (France) to be imported from USA

> View here

Cracks found in shipping containers for fuel assemblies at Areva's Richland nuclear fuel plant

On Feb. 7, 2014, Areva notified NRC pursuant to shipments of enriched uranium-containing fuel assemblies in Model MAP-12 licensed shipping containers. Certain of the MAP-12 containers were discovered to have small cracks in, and minor buckling of, the base spacer weldments which support the package during transportation. According to Areva "the conditions are judged to be of low safety significance and not indicative of a component failure.".

DOE starts sale talks with Areva for usage of off-spec uranium hexafluoride at Richland nuclear fuel plant

The Department of Energy has started negotiations with Areva for the sale of off-specification uranium hexafluoride owned by the federal government, DOE announced Wednesday (Nov. 27). If awarded the contract, Areva's fuel fabrication plant in Richland will convert the material into nuclear fuel for use in commercial power plants in the United States. Areva has well-established technology and licensed operations for blending this type of material with other uranium feed material, according to DOE. (The Bellingham Herald Nov. 27, 2013)
> View DOE EM release Nov. 27, 2013
> See also: DOE request for expressions of interest for Paducah gaseous diffusion enrichment plant facilities and DOE depleted and off-specification UF6 inventories

 

New Uranyl Nitrate Building (UNB) at Areva's Richland nuclear fuel plant

NRC approves new uranyl nitrate building at Areva Richland nuclear fuel plant

On May 30, 2013, NRC issued a license amendment approving the Uranyl Nitrate Building (UNB) at Areva's Richland nuclear fuel plant.

Loss of criticality safety controls at Areva Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant

During an NRC inspection conducted February 11-14, 2013, two Severity Level IV violations of NRC requirements were identified: The violations involve changes associated with the construction and operation of the Uranyl Nitrate Building (UNB). The first Severity Level IV violation is the construction and operation of the UNB without obtaining a license amendment. The second Severity Level IV violation is the failure to perform and document an adequate evaluation of the changes. These violations are not being cited, as the guidance provided by the NRC lacked sufficient clarity.
(Inspection Report no. 70-1257/2013-201 and exercise of enforcement discretion, March 20, 2013)

 

Areva Richland fuel facility's shipments of UO2 powder to Japan routinely violated criticality safety rules

On Nov. 12, 2012, Areva NP Inc., notified NRC that it discovered on September 13, 2012, that the majority of its past shipments of UO2 powder to a Japanese customer utilizing the TNF-XI packaging did not fully comply with the payload restrictions in U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Competent Authority Certificate (CAC) USA/0653/AF-96. The violation concerns the material loading limits, which are based on the criticality safety analysis.

 

Small fire in ventilation system of AREVA's Richland nuclear fuel plant

A small fire broke out about 3 p.m. Friday (Sep. 7) in a ventilation system of the Areva plant in Richland, which manufactures fuel assemblies for nuclear power reactors. No radioactive material is believed to have been involved, said Tom Huntington, a Richland Fire Department battalion chief. There also were no contaminants released from the plant, according to Areva.
The fire was in the uranium oxide building, where uranium is manufactured into fuel pellets for reactor fuel assemblies, but was in a small back room used to cut metal, said Areva spokeswoman Anna Markham. The ventilation system there is part of a system that is self-contained, with no air blowing outside, she said. Air samples taken in the room showed no abnormal conditions, she said.
Firefighters discovered a series of small fires in the ventilation system that were difficult to access, he said. Because they had to tear apart enough of the system to reach the fires, it took until 4:05 p.m. to extinguish them, Huntington said. (Tri-City Herald Sep. 8, 2012)

 

Areva Richland nuclear fuel plant receives non-compliant cylinder with enriched UF6 from Urenco Gronau

On Apr. 11, 2012, Areva NP Inc. notified NRC that it had received a non-compliant 30B cylinder with enriched UF6 that had been sent by Urenco Gronau via Areva Pierrelatte. "The noncompliance was due to the UF6 cylinder having inadequate valve thread engagement per ANSI N14.1-2001." There is, however "no evidence that the valve connection leaked". (ADAMS Acc. No. ML12104A276)
The cylinder apparently was part of a shipment of 21 cylinders announced in Advance Notification 21116-TNI-001-02 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML11125A126, ML11125A109).

 

Loss of criticality safety controls at Areva Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant

During an NRC inspection conducted between October 17 and 20, 2011, a Severity Level IV violation of NRC requirements was identified: the licensee failed to verify prior to use in the process that HEPA Filter Cabinet Criticality Drain (C186DR14) was able to fulfill the requirements identified in the criticality safety analyses. Specifically, the licensee failed to verify that drain C186DR14, IROFS 6914, prevented retention of uranyl nitrate solution inside the HEPA filter cabinet beyond a favorable geometry (depth), by directing liquid overflow to the room floor.
(NOTICE OF VIOLATION AND NRC INTEGRATED INSPECTION REPORT NO. 070-01257/2011-005, January 25, 2012)

 

Loss of criticality safety controls at Areva Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant

During a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) inspection from February 7-11, 2011, a Severity Level IV violation was identified: the licensee failed to implement items relied on for safety for the ammonia recovery facility stripper column to prevent an inadvertent nuclear criticality, which is a credible high consequence event.
(INSPECTION REPORT NO. 70-1257/2011-201 AND NOTICE OF VIOLATION, March 11, 2011)

 

NRC identifies willful falsification of documents at Areva NP's Richland nuclear fuel plant

An investigation initiated on April 3, 2009, by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Office of Investigations, Region II, determined that a former Advisory Engineer, AREVA NP Inc. willfully falsified transit approval forms regarding overseas shipments of low enriched uranium and also that the same Advisory Engineer failed to follow procedural requirements for release of criticality calculations that pertained to uranium shipments. (NRC EA-10-041, Aug. 10, 2010)

On Dec. 3, 2010, NRC issued a Confirmatory Order to the Areva Richland facility.
> Download NRC release Dec. 3, 2010 (PDF)
> Download Confirmatory Order EA-10-041 , Nov. 29, 2010 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML103280261)
> Federal Register: December 13, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 238) p. 77675-77677 (download full text )

 

NRC issues Confirmatory Order to Areva NP's nuclear fuel processing facility in Richland, Wash.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a Confirmatory Order to Areva NP's nuclear fuel processing facility in Richland, Wash., which has agreed to a series of corrective actions related to materials safety. The settlement was achieved under the NRC's Alternative Dispute Resolution process, which was initiated at the request of Areva NP to address a willful violation of a facility safety procedure. On Jan. 6, the NRC notified Areva that an agency investigation determined that a plant employee had willfully defeated the function of a tool relied upon for safety.
> View NRC release Apr. 27, 2010
> Download Confirmatory Order EA-09-272, Apr. 26, 2010 (PDF)

 

Loss of criticality safety controls at Areva Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant

During a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) inspection from September 18 through 23, 2009, a Severity Level IV violation was identified regarding the presence of prohibited unfavorable geometry containers (open and unattended plastic bags larger than 5.5 gallons) in Room 102A.
(NRC INSPECTION REPORT NO. 70-1257/2009-202 AND NOTICE OF VIOLATION, October 21, 2009)

 

Areva to move Lynchburg nuclear fuel production to Richland

Areva announced Tuesday (Sep. 29) that it plans to move all nuclear fuel-making operations to its Richland plant, which will add 50 jobs to the facility and allay fears generated last year that the company might leave the Tri-Cities. The multinational company said it will end fuel production in Lynchburg, Va., and produce fuel assemblies only in Richland, where it has operated for decades. The transition will begin next spring. (The News Tribune Sep. 30, 2009)

 

NRC denies Areva NP's request to withhold Advanced Notifications of Export Shipments from public disclosure

On Aug. 19, 2009, NRC denied a request by Areva NP to withhold Areva's Advanced Notifications of Export Shipments from public disclosure. NRC will rather continue to make these notifications available to the public, 30 days after the material has been delivered. (ADAMS Acc. no. ML091550364 )

 

Security guard falsified access authorization forms at AREVA NP Inc. Richland nuclear fuel plant

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory has issued a Confirmatory Order to AREVA NP Inc.'s Richland facility as part of a settlement agreement involving a security guard who falsified access authorization forms. The guard's actions caused AREVA to be in violation of its security procedures, and allowed unauthorized individuals unescorted access to the Richland, Wash., nuclear materials facility.
> View NRC release July 24, 2009

 

Areva obtains approval for installation of supercritical CO2 uranium recovery process at Richland nuclear fuel plant

By letter dated June 12, 2008, AREVA NP, Inc., applied for a license amendment of its Richland Facility for the installation of a supercritical CO2 uranium recovery process. The process will be utilized to recover uranium from solid uranium-containing residues, most notably incinerator ash.

Notice of Opportunity To Request a Hearing for License Amendment Request From AREVA NP, Inc., Richland, WA and Order Imposing Procedures for Access to Sensitive Unclassified Non-Safeguards Information and Safeguards Information for Contention Preparation.
A request for a hearing must be filed by March 17, 2009.
Federal Register: January 16, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 11) p. 3110-3114 (download full text )

On July 28, 2010, NRC amended the license, effective immediately.
> Download Safety Evaluation Report , July 2010
> Federal Register: September 24, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 185) p. 58446-58447 (download full text )

 

License renewal for AREVA NP Inc. Richland nuclear fuel plant

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has received, by letter dated October 24, 2006, a license renewal application from AREVA NP, Inc. (AREVA), requesting renewal of License No. SNM-1227 at its Richland fuel fabrication facility located in Richland, Washington. AREVA requested renewal of their license for a period of 40 years [!].
Any person whose interest may be affected by this proceeding and who desires to participate as a party must file a written request for a hearing and a specification of the contentions which the person seeks to have litigated in the hearing. A request for a hearing must be filed by May 14, 2007.
Federal Register: March 15, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 50) p. 12202-12204 (download full text )

On March 27, 2009, NRC issued a Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for License Amendment for AREVA NP, Inc., Richland, Washington.
Federal Register: April 3, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 63) p. 15312-15313 (download full text )
> Download Environmental Assessment Feb. 2009 (2.4MB PDF) (ADAMS Acc. No. ML090700258)

On April 24, 2009, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that it has renewed the operating license of Areva NP's nuclear fuel fabrication facility in Richland, Wash., for an additional 40 years of operation. This is the first 40-year renewal of a nuclear facility license in the United States.
> View NRC release April 24, 2009
Federal Register: May 26, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 99) p. 24886 (download full text )
 

Workers Exposed To Hydrogen Fluoride (HF) Release

On Oct. 23, 2006, two workers were exposed to HF leaking from a cracked weld of conversion process line 3. One of the two workers was subsequently hospitalized for exposure to HF vapor. On October 26, 2006, evidence of a second crack was found in the weld near the original crack in the line 3 equipment. The licensee shut down line 3 conversion operations.

> Download NRC PNO-II-06-004, Oct. 26, 2006 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML063050036)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff is scheduled to meet with representatives of AREVA NP, Inc. on Thursday, April 12, 2007, to discuss apparent violations of agency requirements involving a small hydrogen fluoride release at the company's Richland, Wash., facility in late October 2006.
> View NRC release April 6, 2007
 

Uranium container falls off truck at Richland

A cargo container filled with about 4.5 short tons of uranium oxide powder fell off a truck leaving Richland's Framatome ANP nuclear fuel plant on Sep. 26, 2005, but company and state officials said there was no sign the toxic material inside had escaped. The accident happened about 3 p.m. when the cargo container fell from a flatbed truck as it pulled out of the plant's gate, said Chris Powers, a project manager for Framatome, which also is known as Areva. (Tri City Herald Sep 27, 2005)
See also: NRC Preliminary Notification of Event or Unusual Occurrence PNO-II-2005-007, September 27, 2005
 

Import of radioactive waste from Germany for uranium extraction and incineration

On October 16, 2003, the U.S. NRC issued import license IW009, authorizing Framatome ANP Inc. to import 1200 kilograms uranium contained in Class A Radioactive Waste consisting of combustible materials (paper, wood, clothing, plastic) contaminated with low enriched uranium (LEU) oxide powder, enriched to 5% w/o maximum, generated during the LEU fuel fabrication process (conversion of UF6; production of UO2 powder; pressing UO2 powder into pellets; and loading pellets into fuel assemblies).
The waste originates from Advanced Nuclear Fuels GmbH (ANF), Lingen, Germany.
Framatome ANP Inc. will incinerate contaminated combustible materials to recover uranium. Slightly contaminated non-combustibles from processing will be returned to ANF in Germany, in accordance with NRC export license XW005 (issued Oct. 17, 2003). Arrangements for disposal of low-level radioactive waste at the US Ecology, Inc facility in Richland, Washington are in place.

On March 20, 2009, Areva NP applied for an extension of the expiration date of IW009/01 and filed a new export license application XW015 for the return of the non-combustibles to ANF.
 

Small fire in the feed hopper of the solid waste uranium recovery incinerator at Framatome ANP Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant

"On February 20, 2003, at approximately 0630 hrs., a small fire occurred in the feed hopper of the solid waste uranium recovery incinerator involving a cardboard waste box, containing about 9.75 grams of U-235, which caught fire before it was fully fed into a waste incinerator. [...] There was no release of radioactive material from the facility as demonstrated by stack air sample results and samples taken from the roof and surroundings. The two employees in the facility were checked and no detectable contamination identified. [...]"
(NRC Preliminary Notification PNO-IV-03-014, Feb. 21, 2003)
 

Loss of Criticality Safety Controls at Framatome ANP Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant

"On April 3, 2002, the licensee reported the loss of a criticality control (neutron absorbing poison) on a 45 gallon [170 litre] drum of UO2 powder in the UO2 processing building on April 2, 2002. [...] The filled drum contained 250 kg of powder from floor sweepings and dried grinder sludge that was to be reprocessed. [...] According to the licensee, a criticality in the affected drum could theoretically be possible only had the moisture content been over ten times the process limit, or over fifty times the actual moisture content of the affected drum. [...]"
(NRC preliminary notification of event or unusual occurrence -- PNO-IV-02-019, April 4, 2002)

"On April 18, 2002, the onsite portion of a reactive inspection was completed at Framatome, ANP Richland [...] The inspection confirmed that corrective actions taken by the licensee were adequate to continue the dry powder loading operations. However, the NRC engaged the licensee at the preliminary exit briefing and by telephone conference call on April 23, 2002, to request additional followup actions to address potential broader concerns related to procedures and management controls at the facility.[...]"
(NRC Weekly Information Report for the Week Ending April 26, 2002 - emphasis added)

On August 30, 2002, NRC imposed a $15,000 civil penalty on Framatome ANP.
> View NRC EA-02-099, Aug. 28, 2002
 

Siemens Power Corp. becomes Framatome ANP Richland, Inc.

In consequence of the merger of the nuclear businesses of Siemens and Framatome into Framatome ANP (Framatome 66%, Siemens 34%), Siemens Power Corp becomes Framatome ANP Richland, Inc. (Framatome/Siemens news release 31 Jan 2001 PDF)
 

Loss of Criticality Safety Controls at Siemens Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant

On November 9, 2000, Siemens Power Corp. reported the loss of criticality mass limit controls identified during an accountability audit of waste material transfers in the waste handling and packaging area the previous day. (NRC Preliminary Notification PNO-IV-00-031, Nov 9, 2000 )
 

Loss of Criticality Safety Controls at Siemens Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant

On October 12, 2000, Siemens Power Corp. reported the loss of criticality mass limit controls identified during operations in the Modular Extraction/Recovery Facility (MERF) the previous day. (NRC Preliminary Notification PNO-IV-00-027, October 13, 2000 )
 

Range fire approaches Siemens Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant to 800 meters

On June 29, 2000, a range fire approached the Siemens Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant to 800 meters. Plant production circuits were shutdown and non-essential personnel was evacuated. (NRC Preliminary Notification PNO-IV-00-016, June 29, 2000 )
 

Siemens wants to process material with higher transuranics concentrations at its Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant

By letter dated April 26, 2000, Siemens Power Corporation (SPC) is requesting a license amendment to increase the allowed transuranic activity (from Plutonium and Neptunium) for the UF6 feedstock processed at its Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant. SPC requests a 15-fold increase from 3.3 to 50 Bq/g U.
The transuranics are introduced into the feedstock through uranium reprocessed from spent nuclear fuel. For Np-237, 50 Bq correspond to 1.9 µg, for Pu-239, 50 Bq correspond to 0.022 µg.
For enrichments above 2.18 weight-%, the 1 µg Pu per g U-235 criterion of 10 CFR 50.2 would be met; and for 3% enriched uranium, the dose from inhalation of the material would increase by 0.65% compared to pure uranium, according to SPC.

> Retrieve 10 CFR 50.2: via NRC (Note: "106 grams" should read "10-6 grams") · via GPO (look for Production facility)
> SPC letter and attachments available through ADAMS (Docket No. 07001257)
> See also Properties of UF6

 

Use of Siemens' Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant waste solutions as fertilizer

Siemens withdraws license application for use of waste solutions as fertilizer

In a letter to NRC, dated Nov. 30, 2000, Siemens Power Corp. (SPC) withdraws its application, dated May 19, 1999, for a license amendment to allow release of ammonium hydroxide / ammonium nitrate (AH/AN) solution for use as fertilizer. SPC has committed to the State of Washington to pursue non-agricultural uses for this material.

WA Department of Agriculture Registers Siemens Fertilizer

A liquid fertilizer produced by Siemens Power Corp. (SPC) at its commercial nuclear fuel plant in Richland was registered on June 23, 2000, by the Washington State Department of Agriculture; the stop-sale, ordered on February 11, 2000, is rescinded.
"According to the Department of Health (DOH), use of Siemens' ammonium hydroxide product as a fertilizer will have no adverse impacts on public health or the environment when used as directed. DOH found the level of uranium measured in a test sample was 250 times lower than the maximum level of 0.05 parts per million allowed in Siemens' U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission license. In analyzing the product for radiological constituents, results showed the solution contains significantly less uranium than found naturally in soil and is exempt from the DOH's radioactive materials licensing requirements."
(WSDA News Release, June 23, 2000)

WA Department of Agriculture Issues Stop-sale Order for Uranium-containing Fertilizer Product

On Feb. 11, 2000, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) issued a statewide stop-sale order to Siemens Power Corporation of Richland regarding the unauthorized distribution of an unregistered, hazardous waste-derived fertilizer.
The product is an ammonium hydroxide solution that is a waste material from the production of nuclear reactor fuel.
WSDA is taking this action after discovering that Siemens Power Corporation has been distributing the waste product for use as a fertilizer since 1996. The stop sale and distribution order is issued under WSDA's authority to prohibit distribution of unregistered fertilizers in the state.
> View WSDA News Release (Feb. 11, 2000)

Siemens' Richland, WA, nuclear fuel plant plans to sell waste solutions as fertilizer

"Washington State Comments on Draft Environmental Assessment on Release of Solutions at Siemens Nuclear Fuel Facility

On January 4, 2000, the Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards (FCSS) received a letter dated December 27, 1999, from the Washington State Departments of Health and Ecology commenting on the draft Environmental Assessment associated with a proposal by Siemens to sell solutions containing trace amounts of uranium as fertilizer. The state raises a number of concerns about the proposal, including state jurisdiction over such releases. FCSS plans to discuss the concerns with the licensee and the state. Once the comments have been adequately addressed, a final decision will be made relative to the acceptability of the Siemens' proposal."

(U.S. NRC Weekly Information Report for the week ending Jan. 14, 2000)

The solutions have concentrations of uranium enriched to 5% of up to 0.05 mg/l.

> Background documents available at ADAMS (Docket No. 07001257)


Shaw Areva MOX Services, LLC, MOX fuel fabrication plant project (South Carolina)

(formerly Duke, Cogema, Stone & Webster)

> See extra page

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