NNSA Announces Contract to Downblend 12 Metric Tons of Surplus Highly Enriched Uranium

Press Release
Jun 23, 2009
Contract Awarded to Team Consisting of WesDyne International, LLC and Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc.

Washington, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that it has awarded a $209 million contract to down-blend 12.1 metric tons (MT) of surplus U.S. highly enriched uranium (HEU) and store the resulting low-enriched uranium (LEU). The contract was awarded to a team consisting of WesDyne International, LLC (a division of Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC) and Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. (a subsidiary of the Babcock and Wilcox Company). 

Under the agreement, 12.1 metric tons of HEU will be down-blended to about 220 metric tons of LEU at the Nuclear Fuel Services facility in Erwin, Tennessee.  The resulting LEU will have a market value of more than $400 million. NNSA expects the down-blending to begin in 2009 and to be completed in 2012.  The contractors performing the down-blending work will be compensated with a fraction of the LEU; the remainder of the LEU will be stored to support the mixed oxide (MOX) program for disposition of surplus weapons plutonium. 

The contract helps implement President Obama's unprecedented commitment to strengthening and leading international nuclear nonproliferation efforts.  The disposition of surplus U.S. HEU not only achieves a clear nonproliferation goal, but the resulting LEU will be used to provide assurance of fuel supply to utilities participating in the MOX program for the disposition of surplus weapons plutonium.

"President Obama has outlined a far-reaching commitment to renewing U.S. leadership in global nuclear nonproliferation efforts," said NNSA Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Ken Baker.  "This contract to downblend 12 metric tons of surplus U.S. highly enriched uranium is a clear demonstration of our leadership of nuclear nonproliferation efforts and an important part of our effort to assure a fuel supply to utilities participating in the MOX program for the disposition of surplus weapons plutonium."

The LEU will be stored until it is needed at Westinghouse's Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility in Columbia, South Carolina.  The NNSA's Office of Fissile Materials Disposition will oversee the down-blending effort. 

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.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371