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ELECTROMETALLURGICAL TECHNIQUES FOR DOE SPENT FUEL TREATMENT: STATUS REPORT ON ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY'S R&D ACTIVITY THROUGH SPRING 1997 specific areas in which ANL should focus its effort in order to maximize R&D progress and achieve successful demonstration of the electrometallurgical process for treatment of EBR-II spent fuel. The committee stated (NRC, 1997a, p. 1): The EBR-II fuel conditioning work at ANL-W is still in the process evaluation and equipment development phases, as can be expected in the initial stages of such a demonstration and with the new limitations set by the EA [Environmental Assessment]. In 1996 DOE issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the electrometallurgical treatment research and demonstration project in the Fuel Conditioning Facility at Argonne National Laboratory-West (DOE, 1996). The EA necessitated a variety of changes in the details and scope of the EBR-II demonstration program. In response to these changes, DOE requested that the committee, as part of its ongoing evaluation, revisit the question in its original charge: “Do pyrometallurgical techniques represent a potentially viable technology for DOE spent fuel treatment that warrants further research and development?” This report provides the committee's evaluation of the ANL's R&D program on the use of electrometallurgical technology for treatment of spent fuel as of the spring of 1997. Ongoing Evaluation Activity The ANL program must be considered in terms of an R&D project that is focused on the treatment of EBR-II spent fuel by the electrometallurgical technology.1 Within that context, the program is making acceptable progress in providing a sufficient database for DOE to make a technical decision on the application of this technology to treatment of other DOE spent fuels. Thus, the committee reaffirms its overall recommendation of the July 1995 report (NRC, 1995b, p. S-11): ANL should proceed with its development plan in support of the EBR-II demonstration. . . . If the EBR-II demonstration is not accomplished successfully, the ANL program on electrometallurgical processing should be terminated. On the other hand, if the EBR-II demonstration is successful, the DOE should revisit the ANL program at that time in the context of a larger, “global” waste management plan to make a determination for possible continuance. 1 See, for example, Argonne National Laboratory, Nuclear Technology, EBR-II Spent Fuel Treatment Program Monthly Reports, November 1996 through March 1997.
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