NNSA Awards Contract for Reliable Fuel Supply Program

Press Release
Jun 29, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) awarded a team consisting of Wesdyne International, LLC (a subsidiary of Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC) and Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. a contract to down-blend 17.4 metric tons of U.S. highly enriched uranium and store the resulting low-enriched uranium for the Reliable Fuel Supply program. Building on key nonproliferation and energy initiatives of President Bush, the United States will provide reliable access to a nuclear fuel supply to countries not pursuing their own enrichment and reprocessing technologies.

"Setting up the Reliable Fuel Supply program demonstrates U.S. leadership on nonproliferation by setting aside fuel for countries to use if supplies are disrupted so that they don't have to pursue sensitive fuel cycle programs on their own," said William Tobey, head of NNSA's nuclear nonproliferation programs.

Under the terms of the contract, Nuclear Fuel Services, a subcontractor, will down-blend 17.4 MT of highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium at its facility in Erwin, Tennessee. The down-blending is scheduled to begin in 2007 and be completed in 2010. It will produce about 290 metric tons of low enriched uranium, most of which will constitute the Reliable Fuel Supply.

Wesdyne International, the prime contractor, will store the low-enriched uranium at the Westinghouse fuel fabrication facility in Columbia, South Carolina. The fuel will be available for use in civilian reactors by nations in good standing with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that have good nonproliferation credentials and are not pursuing uranium enrichment and reprocessing technologies. The low-enriched uranium will be made available to qualifying countries at the current market price and only in the event of an emergency.

The down-blending, storage and operation of the reliable supply will be overseen and managed by NNSA, and the down-blending will be eligible for IAEA inspection. To cover the project's costs, Wesdyne will sell a small fraction of the resulting low enriched uranium on the market over a three to four year period.

In 2005, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced that 17.4 metric tons of surplus highly enriched uranium would be set aside for the creation of a Reliable Fuel Supply program. The program is an important nonproliferation effort that responds to President Bush's call for reliable fuel service mechanisms, including through the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, that enable countries with good nonproliferation credentials to pursue nuclear power generation.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371