Ackerman (ANL), R. Evans (ANL), D. Keiser (ANL), S. Johnson (ANL), E. Gay (ANL), R. Mariani (ANL), and R. Ahluwalia (ANL)
Gregory Choppin, committee chair, opened the open session with an introduction of the committee members.
Yoon I. Chang, ANL-E, presented a talk evaluating the economics of DOE spent fuel treatment. The justification for electrometallurgical treatment was discussed. The current DOE/EM approach is to stabilize vulnerable spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and store it in a safe condition for an interim period (assumed to be 40 years). Direct disposability of RCRA-characteristic, pyrophoric, or highly enriched DOE spent fuel types remains in question. Electrometallurgical treatment resolves these issues and has the potential for reducing the DOE spent fuel disposal life-cycle costs significantly. Electrometallurgical treatment results in additional benefits. It eliminates technical uncertainties associated with the problematic spent fuel types concerning whether they require treatment or can be qualified for direct disposal. It produces robust and common waste forms for interim storage as well as longer-term storage in a repository. The uranium by-products are separated, eliminating criticality concerns in the repository. DOE SNF disposal costs without treatment ranged from a low, using existing facilities, of $16 billion, to an upper range, with new facilities, of about $25 billion. This was compared with the range of costs saved through the use of treatment. The lower avoided costs were $10.7 billion, and the upper range was $14.2 billion. The electrometallurgical treatment strategy is to utilize existing hot cell facilities at ANL-W, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, and Hanford. The decision for implementation will be made in 2001, and the treatment will be completed during the period 2006 to 2015. Electrometallurgical treatment costs were estimated for waste storage at $200 million for capital costs plus $400 million for operating costs. Waste disposal costs were based on reduction of canistered waste volume by a factor of five, leading to an estimated cost of $740 million. The total treatment and disposal cost were estimated to be $2.9 billion. Cost savings with electrometallurgical treatment were set between a lower and upper range of $7.8 billion to $9.8 billion.
Robert W. Benedict, ANL-W, spoke on the spent fuel demonstration status and success criteria accomplishments. The EBR-II spent fuel treatment flow sheet was reviewed, demonstrating the separation of uranium, and the ceramic and metal waste forms individually. Following a review of upcoming demonstration project milestones, a response to the committee's spring 1997 report1 was given. The committee had stated in that report that it looked forward to receiving the demonstration project implementation plan after DOE had approved it. The revised Work Breakdown Structure describes implementation in section 11. DOE has verbally approved. The committee had stated that before completion of the demonstration, DOE should establish criteria for success in the demonstration phase to allow evaluation of the electrometallurgical technology for future use in treating DOE spent fuel. DOE has now issued the criteria and specific goals. A status report with accomplishments was issued by DOE in June 1998. In addition, an
Electrometallurgical Techniques for DOE Spent Fuel Treatment: Status Report on Argonne National Laboratory's R&D Activity Through Spring 1997, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1997.