NNSA Completes the Conversion of Two U.S. Research Reactors

Press Release
Sep 25, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), in cooperation with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the University of Wisconsin, the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), and the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy recently completed the conversion of two research reactors from highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU).

As part of its nuclear nonproliferation mission, NNSA provides support to convert research reactors in the U.S. and around the world that operate on HEU fuel to LEU fuel. Minimizing the use of highly enriched uranium is important to global threat reduction efforts aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and is a key part of the unprecedented nuclear security agenda outlined by President Obama earlier this year.

"President Obama outlined his commitment to combating the proliferation of nuclear weapons by minimizing the use of highly enriched uranium around the world," said NNSA Administrator Thomas P. D'Agostino. "The conversion of reactors in the United States shows that we are committed to leading by example. We commend the parties involved for their efforts on the successful conversion of the University of Wisconsin Research Reactor and the Neutron Radiography Reactor at INL to LEU fuel."

The University of Wisconsin Research Reactor and Neutron Radiography Reactor at INL were converted from the use of HEU to LEU fuel through NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). NNSA has now converted or verified the shutdown of a total of 67 HEU research reactors around the world.

The conversion of the University of Wisconsin Research Reactor completes implementation of the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership of 2005 two years ahead of schedule. With these recent efforts, the Department of Energy has now completed the conversion of 17 U.S. university HEU fueled research reactors. Two remaining HEU fueled university research reactors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MITR) and the University of Missouri (MURR) both require a new higher density LEU fuel currently under development.

The University of Wisconsin Research Reactor and INL's Neutron Radiography Reactor are the fourth and fifth reactors to be converted or verified as shut down by NNSA in 2009. The others include the shutdown of General Atomics' TRIGA reactor in California and Bulgaria's IRT-2000 in Sofia, and the conversion of Hungary's Budapest Research Reactor.

For more information on NNSA's efforts in support of the President's nuclear security agenda click here.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation's national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. Visit http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/ for more information.

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