Depleted Uranium | How EnergySolutions can Help
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Narrator: Depleted uranium begins as uranium ore, mined from across the United States, much of it from the state of Utah. After the uranium ore is mined, it is hauled by heavy equipment to a uranium mill, where the ore is transferred for milling.
Once the milling process is complete, a product called “yellowcake” remains, which is shipped to enrichment facilities to extract the fissionable material needed for use in nuclear power plants, and defense weapons.
The yellowcake is transformed into uranium hexafluoride, UF6, as part of the enrichment process. The enrichment process concentrates the two fissionable elements, U235 and U234, on one side of the process.
This enriched uranium is used for the production of fuel. Further enrichment produces higher‑grade uranium used for weapons production. The remaining material, after most of the U235 and U234 are removed, is called “depleted uranium.”
Because the fissionable portions of the uranium are removed, depleted uranium is less radioactive than the original form of uranium. Depleted uranium must still be properly managed and disposed of for the protection of human health and the environment.
The majority of the country’s depleted uranium is stockpiled in Kentucky and Ohio and is still in the uranium hexafluoride form. To begin the process for disposal, the uranium hexafluoride must first be deconverted back into the more stable uranium oxide form, “U308.”
After the DU is deconverted, it is repackaged into specially designed containers that are generally 12 feet long, and four feet in diameter.
Once packaged in these specially designed steel containers and sealed, the containers are inspected, loaded on a train, and may be transported to the west desert of Utah, to the EnergySolutions Clive disposal facility.
Upon arrival by rail at the EnergySolutions Clive disposal facility, the containers are again inspected to ensure none of the containers were compromised during transportation.
The disposal facility is prepared by removing the top 8 to 10 feet of soil, constructing a low‑permeability clay liner, and placing an engineered protective soil layer.
The embankment is made of natural building materials that are proven to remain stable for long periods of time. The containers are then carefully positioned in the facility for permanent disposal in the southwest section of the facility.
After the containers are properly positioned, a special grout‑type material is poured over the containers to ensure there is no void space. Once the grout is set, it will ensure there is no void space, which further ensures the containers are safe and secure.
Additional material will be placed over the containers to ensure stability, and then, a cover consisting of rock and compacted clay will be placed on the liner, with vegetation planted to prevent erosion.
Properly disposing of depleted uranium ensures safety for the environment, and citizens of this country that have enjoyed many benefits of nuclear materials.
It is a great responsibility to safely manage depleted uranium, and EnergySolutions manages the disposal of nuclear waste better than any other company in the country.
Depleted Uranium Disposal
Depleted uranium is a necessary byproduct of our nation’s power and defense strategy. The question you may have is: how does this byproduct and the nuclear process affect the environment and public health? Here are some facts that may provide insight.
- Nuclear power plants only add around .1 Sievert exposure to those living near them a year, with the average person receiving 260 Sieverts from cosmic radiation a year.
- Nuclear power plants provide a smaller environmental footprint than the vast majority of its competitors.
- Depleted uranium, properly stored, will not cause adverse effects to human health.
Energy Solutions is dedicated to our children’s, families’ and veterans health. With proper storage of nuclear waste we can all have a bright future.
We Take the Responsibility
The public benefits from the materials derived from the extraction and processing of uranium ore. It’s our goal at EnergySolutions to protect and preserve the environment by safely and responsibly managing radioactive waste which includes depleted uranium. Our facility in the west desert of Utah is one of the best locations in the country for the safe disposal of depleted uranium. Our world-class employees are dedicated to safely disposing of this waste ensuring it is never a problem for the general public and the environment. No other company offers the same quality of service in the country.
We at EnergySolutions are committed to protecting and preserving the environment and general public by responsibly managing the byproduct (waste) of the nuclear industry.
Contact us today to find out more about our nuclear waste disposal services.