The Savannah River Site is opening its ears to the possibility of receiving German shipments of highly-enriched uranium.
On Thursday, the Department of Energy signed a Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental assessment to analyze the potential environmental impacts of accepting the spent nuclear fuel.
DOE has proposed to accept, process and dispose of used nuclear fuel from Germany containing approximately 900 kilograms of the uranium, or HEU.
Officials will hold a public scoping meeting on the issue on June 24 at the North Augusta Community Center.
If the deal goes through, DOE would install, in H-Canyon at SRS, a capable system which would chemically remove the graphite from the fuel kernels using a technology being developed by the Savannah River National Laboratory.
“While no decision has been made to accept this fuel, the planned cooperation would support the United States' efforts to reduce, and eventually eliminate, HEU from civil commerce,” officials wrote in a press release.
Officials wrote that the national lab has the resources to see the project through. In December 2012, the lab signed a $1.5 million Work for Others Agreement with the German entity currently managing the fuel, initiating the early development of the graphite digestion technology.
“Continuation of this work is furthered by the recently signed $8.5 million Work for Others Agreement,” officials added.
The issue has come up during SRS Citizens Advisory Board meetings earlier this year. During a March 24 meeting, board member Bill Calhoun denounced the prospect of SRS receiving more nuclear materials.
“My point is that the CAB, based on public input, strongly voted that we did not want to receive additional receipts of foreign nuclear materials, and that we should be cleaning up legacy waste that's already on-site instead of bringing in new materials,” Calhoun said.
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard.