Uranium extracted from over 20,000 Russian nuclear warheads as part of the 'Megatons to Megawatts' initiative has supplied over 10% of all US electricity over the last 15 years. Now, that program has officially come to an end.
USEC announced, 10 December, that it had shipped the last cylinders of low enriched uranium under the Megatons to Megawatts program from the Port of Baltimore to its facility in Paducah, Kentucky.
Since 1995, USEC has purchased more than 14,000 metric tons of low enriched uranium downblended from 500 metric tons of weapons-grade uranium
"Since 1995, USEC has purchased more than 14,000 metric tons of low enriched uranium downblended from 500 metric tons of weapons-grade uranium that has been extracted from the equivalent of 20,000 Russian nuclear warheads," a statement said.
Follow-on contract through 2022
A 2011 agreement with Russian enrichment company, Tenex will see the supply of low enriched uranium to USEC continue through 2022. However, unlike the Megatons to Megawatts program, the LEU supplied under the new contract will come from Russia's commercial enrichment activities rather than from downblending of Russian weapons material.
"The supply of low enriched uranium to USEC began in 2013 and will ramp up until it reaches a level in 2015 that is approximately one-half the level supplied by TENEX to USEC under the Megatons to Megawatts program," USEC said in a statement.
The new contract also includes a mutual option to increase the quantities up to the same level as the Megatons to Megawatts program (5.5 million SWU per year).
About Megatons to Megawatts
The Megatons to Megawatts program is a commercially financed government-industry partnership that implemented a 1993 governmental agreement between the United States and Russia to reduce excess supplies of highly enriched uranium in the former Soviet Union.
Weapons-grade uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear warheads was downblended into low enriched uranium and purchased by USEC to fuel American nuclear power plants.
USEC, as executive agent for the US government, paid for the downblended uranium at no cost to taxpayers through a contract with TENEX, as executive agent for the Russian government.
The fuel was then sold to US utility customers and used to fuel American nuclear power plants.
The Megatons to Megawatts program has supplied nearly ten percent of all US electricity over the last fifteen years, the White House said in a statement.
It added: "The United States and Russia remain strongly committed to building on this success, and will continue to collaborate across various fields of nonproliferation, nuclear security, and nuclear research and development."