Save the Uranium-233!
From: Gilbertson, Mark [mailto:mark [dot] gilbertson [at] em [dot] doe [dot] gov] Sent: Friday, March 19, 2010 2:35 PM
In response to your email to Secretary Chu, dated February 14, 2010.
The Department has determined that these inventories of U-233 are no longer needed to meet agency mission requirements. In 2003, to aid in isotope production, Congress authorized the extraction of Thorium-229 from ORNL’s U-233 inventory prior to its disposal. However, subsequently, in November 2005, via the 2006 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act (H.R. 2419), Congress directed the termination of the planned medical isotope production project (i.e., thorium extraction), and transferred the Building 3019 Shutdown/U-233 Disposition Project (i.e., responsibility for the disposition of U-233) from the Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology (NE) to the Office of Environmental Management (EM). Accordingly, in October 2007, at the recommendation of the Department’s Nuclear Materials Disposition and Consolidation Coordination Council, DOE decided to prepare the ORNL inventory for disposal beginning in FY 2012.
Since that time, EM has been following the Congressional direction. The Department is proceeding with disposition of the U-233 inventory without thorium extraction. The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) has followed the progress of this project closely. They have stated that completion of this U-233 downblending and disposition project will meet the intent of the Board’s Recommendation 97-1, “Safe Storage of Uranium-233” (issued March 3, 1997).