completed, DOE should establish criteria for success in the demonstration phase to allow evaluation of the electrometullurgical technology for further use in treating DOE spent fuel.
The current plan for application of electrometallurgical technology to the treatment of EBR-II fuel is limited by the terms of the current EA, which specifies the amount of fuel that can be processed (DOE, 1996). Processing of the remaining EBR-II spent fuel would require preparation of an EA plan within the next 2 years and its approval prior to further, and possibly expanded, utilization of the electrometallurgical technology. A new EA will be required before additional EBR-II spent fuel can be treated DOE should begin plans for such an EA now so that its preparation does not become the source of a major operational delay, if the current demonstration project is successful. Alternatively, if the demonstration does not satisfactorily meet the criteria for success, other technologies will be required for treatment of the remaining EBR-II spent fuel.
The committee continues to believe that successful demonstration of the electrometallurgical process for treating EBR-II fuel is essential to support development of applications of this technique to treatment of other DOE spent fuels. ANL's research efforts have involved the investigation of the electrometallurgical technology for treatment of non-EBR-II fuels such as the N-reactor fuel. However, the DOE Office of Environmental Management (EM) may proceed with plans for the N-reactor fuel that do not include the use of electrometallurgical technology. Since the current approach of DOE-EM is to develop project plans for implementation within the next 10 years, the offices of Nuclear Energy (NE) (which funds the present program) and Environmental Management (EM) should maintain close contact to ensure proper coordination of their activities.
ANL has achieved satisfactory progress in the preparation, characterization, and testing of development-scale ceramic and metal waste forms. DOE should establish acceptance criteria for waste forms scheduled for storage in a geologic repository. The electrometullurgical technology program currently is forced to assume that its own definition will be acceptable to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. DOE should provide its best guidance to ensure that the Argonne approach is useful.
At the current stage of the ANL R&D program, the committee suggests that ANL utilize external technical experts in specific scientific areas of the program. These technical experts should be recognized for their in-depth knowledge in particular technical areas. The committee suggests establishing more formal and intensive interactions with experts in particular fields for the benefit of the program.