point was reiterated in the committee’s sixth report: “Before the demonstration is completed, DOE should establish criteria for success in the demonstration phase to allow evaluation of the electrometallurgical technology for further use.”4 The criteria proposed by the committee were based on what the committee believed were reasonable estimates of a pilot-plant-scale production.

In preparation for operations related to the spent fuel demonstration project, ANL prepared an Operation Readiness Review for the fuel conditioning facility (FCF) where radioactive operations were to take place.5 In August 1995, the DOE Material Control and Accountability Audit was completed.6

During the summer of 1995, several nongovernmental organizations had questioned the adequacy of the environmental assessment (EA) prepared under the IFR program. The resolution of environmental issues was all that was needed before operations with irradiated fuel could begin. During the fall of 1995, ANL decided to prepare a new environmental impact assessment to specifically address the spent fuel treatment operations in the FCF. This document was issued by DOE during late January 1996,7 and the environmental evaluation was completed in the spring of 1996.

As a result of the new EA, the demonstration project was scaled back from initial estimates. The goal was to process 100 driver and 25 blanket fuel assemblies from EBR-II to demonstrate the electrometallurgical technique.8

In 1998, ANL proposed a set of performance criteria for the demonstration project, with goals to meet each criterion. The committee in its seventh report evaluated these criteria and goals and found them to be adequate for assessing the success of the demonstration project.9


The criteria proposed by ANL in 1998 for the demonstration project were similar in scope to those recommended by the committee in 1995, but smaller in scale in order to conform to the EA. The four criteria address the process, the waste streams, and the safety of the electrometallurgical demonstration project. The four criteria and lists of goals are reprinted, with the exception noted, from pages 24 and 25 of the committee’s seventh report.

Criterion 1: Demonstration that 100 driver and up to 25 blanket experimental breeder reactor assemblies can be treated in a fuel-conditioning facility (FCF) within 3 years, with a throughput rate of 16 kg per month for driver assemblies sustained for a minimum of 3 months and a blanket throughput rate of 150 kg per month sustained for 1 month.10


National Research Council, Electrometallurgical Techniques for DOE Spent Fuel Treatment: Status Report on Argonne National Laboratory’s R&D Activity Through Spring 1997, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1997, p. 11.


K.M. Goff, R.D. Mariani, D. Vaden, N.L. Bonomo, and S.S. Cunningham, “Fuel Conditioning Facility Electrorefiner Start-up Results,” in Proceeding of the Embedded Topical Meeting on DOE Spent Nuclear Fuel & Fissile Material Management, Reno, NV, June 16-20, 1996, American Nuclear Society, Inc., La Grange Park, IL, pp. 137-143.


Environment, Safety, and Health, Material Control and Accountability Manual, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, 1995.


U. S. Department of Energy, Draft Environmental Assessment – Electrometallurgical Treatment Research Demonstration Project in the Fuel Conditioning Facility at Argonne National Laboratory-West, DOE/EA-1148, Washington, D.C., 1996.


In June 1999, Robert G. Lange, associate director for Nuclear Facilities Management, Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology, sent a letter to the National Research Council, clarifying the amount of EBR-II spent fuel that was treated in the demonstration project. In this letter Lange states that “The Finding of No Significant Impact issued in May 1996 for the environmental assessment of the demonstration project was based on the treatment of no more than 125 assemblies of EBR-II spent fuel (100 driver assemblies and 25 blanket assemblies).”


R.W. Benedict, H.F. McFarlane, J.P. Ackerman, R.K. Ahluwalia, L.L. Briggs, H. Garcia, E.C. Gay, K.M. Goff, S.G. Johnson, R.D. Mariani, S. McDeavitt, G.A. McLennan, C. Pereira, P.D. Roach, and B.R. Westphal, Spent Fuel Treatment Demonstration Interim Status Report, NT Technical Memorandum No. 74, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL, 1998, Appendix A.


The original statement of this criterion was as follows: “Demonstration that 125 EBR-II assemblies can be treated in a fuel-conditioning facility (FCF) within 3 years with a throughput rate of 16 kg/month for driver assemblies sustained for a minimum of 3 months and a blanket throughput rate of 150 kg per month sustained for 1 month.” The intent of this success criterion was to define minimum required throughput rates for the treatment process to be met within 3 years using no more than the amount of EBR-II fuel that had been set aside. All 100 drivers

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