ANNOUNCEMENT – Dec. 24, 2015
The U.S. Department of Energy/ National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) is announcing its Preferred Alternative for the disposition of certain quantities of surplus plutonium evaluated in the Final Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Final SPD Supplemental EIS) (DOE/EIS-0283-S2, April 2015). Among the potential actions considered in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS, DOE/NNSA analyzed the potential environmental impacts for the disposition of 13.1 metric tons (14.4 tons) of surplus plutonium for which a disposition path is not assigned, including 7.1 metric tons (7.8 tons) of plutonium from pits that were declared excess to national defense needs and 6 metric tons (6.6 tons) of surplus non-pit plutonium.
With regard to the 6 metric tons (6.6 tons) of surplus non-pit plutonium, DOE/NNSA’s Preferred Alternative is to prepare this plutonium for eventual disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico. DOE/NNSA may issue a Record of Decision, containing its decision(s) for disposition of this quantity of material, no sooner than 30 days from the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register.
DOE/NNSA has no Preferred Alternative, at this time, for other potential actions considered in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS. Specifically, DOE/NNSA has no Preferred Alternative for the disposition of the remaining 7.1 MT of surplus plutonium from pits, nor does it have a Preferred Alternative among the pathways analyzed for providing the capability to disassemble surplus pits and convert the plutonium from pits to a form suitable for disposition. Consistent with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, once a Preferred Alternative is identified, DOE will announce its preference in a Federal Register notice. DOE would publish a Record of Decision no sooner than 30 days after its announcement of a Preferred Alternative.
ABOUT THIS PROJECT
To reduce the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is engaged in a program to disposition U.S. surplus, weapons-usable plutonium in a safe, secure, and environmentally sound manner, by converting such plutonium into proliferation-resistant forms that can never again be readily used in nuclear weapons.
The Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SPD Supplemental EIS) analyzes the potential environmental impacts of alternatives for the disposition of 7.1 metric tons of additional weapons-usable plutonium from pits ("pit plutonium"; a pit is the core of a nuclear weapon) that were declared surplus to national defense needs in 2007 and were not included in DOE's prior decisions and 6 metric tons of surplus, weapons-usable non-pit plutonium.
DOE evaluates the potential impacts of four action alternatives: (1) Immobilization to the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) Alternative – glass can-in-canister immobilization for both surplus non-pit and disassembled and converted pit plutonium and subsequent filling of the canister with high-level radioactive waste (HLW) at DWPF; (2) MOX Fuel Alternative – fabrication of the disassembled and converted pit plutonium and much of the non-pit plutonium into MOX fuel at MFFF for use in domestic commercial nuclear power reactors to generate electricity, as well as potential disposition of the surplus non-pit plutonium that is not suitable for MFFF as contact-handled transuranic waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP); (3) H Canyon/HB Line to DWPF Alternative – processing the surplus non pit plutonium in H Canyon/HB Line and subsequent vitrification with HLW (in DWPF) and fabrication of the pit plutonium into MOX fuel at MFFF; and (4) WIPP Alternative – preparing for potential disposal as contact-handled transuranic waste at WIPP the surplus non-pit and disassembled and converted pit plutonium in H Canyon/HB-Line and K Area at the Savannah River Site (SRS), or preparing the surplus non-pit plutonium in H Canyon/HB Line and K-Area at SRS and preparing the surplus disassembled and converted pit plutonium in TA-55 facilities at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
Currently, surplus pit plutonium is not in a form suitable for disposition and must be disassembled and converted to an oxide. Pit disassembly and conversion options analyzed in this Final SPD Supplemental EIS are: (1) a stand-alone Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility (PDCF) at F-Area at SRS; (2) a Pit Disassembly and Conversion Project (PDC) at K-Area at SRS; (3) a pit disassembly and conversion capability in PF-4 in TA 55 at LANL and metal oxidation in MFFF at SRS; and (4) a pit disassembly and conversion capability in PF-4 at LANL with the potential for pit disassembly in K-Area, conversion in H Canyon/HB-Line, and metal oxidation in MFFF at SRS.
This SPD Supplemental EIS evaluates disposition alternatives that include irradiation of MOX fuel in TVA reactors, subject to appropriate amendments to the applicable licenses from the NRC. TVA is a cooperating agency for this SPD Supplemental EIS and, as such, is not required to declare a preferred alternative. TVA does not have a preferred alternative at this time regarding whether to pursue irradiation of MOX fuel in TVA reactors and which reactors might be used for this purpose.
FINAL SPD Supplemental Documents:
To request information about this NEPA action or to be added to or removed from the SPD Supplemental EIS mailing list, please contact (providing your name and complete mailing address) firstname.lastname@example.org or:
Sachiko McAlhany, NEPA Document Manager
SPD Supplemental EIS
U.S. Department of Energy
P.O. Box 1984
Germantown, MD 20874-1984
Toll-Free Voice Mail: 1-855-368-1352
Toll-Free Fax: 1-877-865-0277
For general information on the NNSA NEPA process, please contact: Ms. Mary Martin (NA-56), NNSA NEPA Compliance Officer, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20585, or telephone 202-586-9438. For general information about the DOE NEPA process, please contact: Ms. Carol Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance (GC-54), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20585, telephone 202-586-4600, or leave a message at 1-800-472-2756. Additional information about the DOE NEPA process, an electronic archive of DOE NEPA documents, including those referenced in this announcement, and other NEPA resources are available at http://energy.gov/nepa.