Publicatie Laka-bibliotheek:
Management of Depleted Uranium

Datumaugustus 2001

Uit de publicatie:

                                    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

     This report on “Management of Depleted Uranium” presents an overview of the current
inventory, potential future arisings, management and options for use of depleted uranium. By
definition, depleted uranium contains U with a concentration lower than the 0.711% occurring in
nature. Since the dawn of the nuclear era, large stocks of depleted uranium have arisen as a by-product
of uranium enrichment operations. Currently world stocks of depleted uranium are estimated at around
1.2 million tU. This stockpile has been contained primarily in the form of uranium hexafluoride (UF6)
in metal cylinders and stored at enrichment facilities. Depleted uranium is a potentially valuable
resource, with identified uses as an energy source and in shielding and industrial applications. As these
uses are currently limited, there is an interest in countries holding such stockpiles in exchanging
information on safe storage, potential future uses and disposition options.

     The stock of depleted uranium arising from enrichment plant operation is expected to increase by
up to 57 000 tU annually for the foreseeable future, though under some planning scenarios, this will be
reduced by up to 20% by substitution with down-blended highly enriched uranium and the use of
mixed oxide fuel.

      Depleted uranium can be safely stored as UF6 in coated steel containers in outdoor yards provided
that there is a container management program to ensure that there is no degradation of the integrity of
the containers. The technology for deconversion into U3O8 is in commercial operation, and other
technologies exist or are under development to convert the UF6 to other forms. These forms can be
safely stored in warehouses. In all cases, the environmental, safety and health impacts on the workers
and the general public living around a storage site have to be considered.

     To pursue potential uses of depleted uranium, a number of countries are conducting their own
R&D programmes, and are interested in international collaboration. Except where these projects
involve national sponsorship, such collaboration is most likely to be subject to commercial
competition issues or be substantially limited to the exchange of information and experience.

     Long-term disposition of depleted uranium would only need to be considered if depleted uranium
stocks were determined to have no economic reuse potential.

     This report reflects the increasing awareness in countries holding depleted uranium of the need to
ensure proper management and to research on the potential uses and disposition options of such
materials. Key issues requiring further considerations on depleted uranium were also identified, such
as: how much, how long, and in what form should depleted uranium be stored, and implications for
final disposition of depleted uranium. Use for re-enrichment should make the need for such final
disposition unnecessary for several decades.