Dear Dr. Reber:
The Department is very pleased with the assessments on the Argonne National Laboratory electrometallurgical research and development activity carried out by the National Research Council, Committee on Electrometallurgical Techniquesfor DOE Spent Fuel Treatment. The Committee's reports have been of considerable value to the Department in evaluating the technical progress of the electrometallurgical research program.
The Committee's work thus far has covered three important areas:
evaluating the viability of electrometallurgical technology for the treatment of DOE spent nuclear fuel and considering whether the technology warrants further research and development;
conducting an ongoing evaluation of Argonne National Laboratory's R&D activity on electrometallurgical techniques for DOE spent fuel treatment, including their specific application to EBR-II spent fuel; and
evaluating the scientific and technological issues associated with extending this research and development program to handle plutonium, should the DOE decide that an electrometallurgical treatment option for the disposition of excess weapons plutonium is worth pursuing.
As the Committee is aware, a variety of factors have combined to extend the schedule for the EBR-II spent fuel demonstration, which is now expected to be completed in June 1999. As a result, we request that your Committee continue its ongoing evaluation for the duration of this project. The Department requests that the Committee plan to issue a final report with final recommendations and observations subsequent to the completion of the demonstration project.