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ELECTROMETALLURGICAL TECHNIQUES FOR DOE SPENT FUEL TREATMENT: A STATUS REPORT ON ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY'S R&D ACTIVITY SPENT FUEL OPERATIONS Since the briefings received by the committee in November 1995, ANL-W staff have proceeded with equipment checkout using nonradioactive surrogate fuels. Additionally, they have installed equipment for the ultimate production of mineral waste forms containing representative levels of fission product elements and have continued work on metal waste forms containing plutonium and noble metal fission elements. Accomplishments include the following: The Fuel Conditioning Facility (FCF) was placed in a state that permits “hot” operation. Four irradiated driver assemblies were received and placed in storage. A draft environmental assessment was prepared and released. Seventeen electrorefiner deposits were produced, and 44 cathode processor batches were processed. FCF metal waste form equipment was designed and small- and large-scale metal waste form casting was carried out to explore the behavior of plutonium and noble metal fission product elements in both Fe-rich and Zr-rich alloys. A hot isostatic press was installed, and three waste samples were produced for operational verification. The revised environmental assessment for the EBR-II demonstration allows for the processing of 100 driver and 25 blanket EBR-II fuels, 8 a level that is significantly downscaled from previous plans.9 At the March 14 briefing, ANL indicated that the most optimistic date for initiation of hot operations would be April 1996. However, if additional obstacles develop during completion of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, hot operation could be delayed further. 8 Appendix B of this report. 9 An Assessment of Continued R&D into an Electrometallurgical Approach for Treating DOE Spent Nuclear Fuel,National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., July, 1995.
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