ANL-E has prepared and delivered to ANL-W the UCl3 needed for the Mark-V ER. ANL-W has completed the processing of 48 of 100 driver assemblies. It has cast 372 kg of low-enrichment uranium. The cathode processor size has increased from 12 to 17 kg. The casting furnace batch size has increased from 36 to 54 kg. Blanket fuel element chopper installation is complete. The Mark-V ER is installed and process chemicals loaded.
ANL has documented two important decisions: (1) the selection of sodalite over zeolite as the host ceramic waste form for nonnoble fission products and transuranic element (TRU) waste components from the molten processing salt of the EMT process and (2) an outline of a qualification testing plan for both the proposed ceramic and metal waste forms. At ANL-E, “cold” metal waste forms using simulated, nonradioactive fission products are being produced and studied. A number of ongoing activities are related to developing the glass-bonded sodalite (GBS) ceramic waste form. Establishing the credibility of the EMT process must eventually include resolution of waste form issues.
Detailed descriptions of the following technologies are discussed in the body of this report. This summary gives an assessment of the viability of these technologies as possible alternatives to electrometallurgical treatment for EBR-II spent fuel.
The long-term durability of the proposed overpack container has not been demonstrated or documented. At the present time, direct emplacement of EBR-II spent nuclear fuel (SNF) is precluded by DOE policy concerning acceptance of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)-designated mixed waste (which contains both hazardous and radioactive waste). Because it contains both metallic uranium and sodium, EBR-II SNF is categorized as a RCRA hazardous waste that is potentially both pyrophoric and reactive.
Considering the time period and cost necessary for developing a Glass Material Oxidation and Dissolution System (GMODS) relative to the level of maturity of the EMT process, GMODS does not appear to be a viable alternative for processing only EBR-II SNF unless the process is also applied to other SNFs and miscellaneous fissile materials.
No experimental work relevant to the processing of EBR-II SNF has been carried out on melt and dilute. No development schedule or cost estimates were presented; therefore the committee does not have sufficient information to evaluate melt and dilute as a viable alternative to EMT.
The development of a versatile head-end process to handle mechanical decladding, sodium removal, and zirconium sludge formation for EBR-II SNF for the Savannah River Site (SRS) PUREX facility does not seem justified for the purpose solely of treating the relatively small quantity of EBR-II fuel that will remain after the completion of the EMT demonstration.