The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analysing the potential impacts of the Department’s proposed action to acquire high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU). The US Administration is committed to securing a domestic supply of HALEUwhich is required by most US small and advanced reactor designs. HALEU is not currently available from domestic suppliers, which could significantly impact the deployment of new design reactors.

DOE is seeking public comment on the draft EIS, which evaluates the impacts of DOE’s plans to acquire HALEU for use in commercial nuclear energy production or demonstration projects, as well as establish commercial production of HALEU in the USA.

“Establishing a secure, domestic HALEU supply is an important step in demonstrating and commercialising advanced nuclear reactors, which are key to meeting the Biden-Harris Administration’s clean energy goals by 2035,” said US Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dr Kathryn Huff. “Public feedback on the draft EIS will strengthen the process and help ensure we’re considering all the environmental effects of commercial HALEU production.”

The Energy Act of 2020 directs DOE to establish and carry out a programme to support the availability of HALEU for civilian, domestic research, development, demonstration, and commercial use. The proposed action of this draft EIS focuses on the acquisition of HALEU produced by commercial entities using enrichment technology and making it available for commercial use or demonstration projects. DOE will host three virtual public hearings to share information on the process used to analyse the proposed action and alternatives, gather oral comments and feedback on the draft EIS, and enhance opportunities for public participation.

Image: The HALEU demonstration programme in Piketon, Ohio (courtesy of Centrus Energy)