WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is implementing President Bush's policy to provide reliable access to nuclear fuel for civilian reactors to countries that refrain from pursuing their own enrichment and reprocessing technologies. NNSA is announcing its intent to seek proposals to down-blend 17.4 metric tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) into reactor grade fuel for use in the Reliable Fuel Supply program. This program also contributes to the Administration's proposed Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.
"Establishing a reliable fuel supply supports the Administration's twin goals of expanding the use of nuclear power and curbing nuclear proliferation," said Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman. "This will help countries to pursue nuclear power confidently, without the burden of producing their own fuel, while curbing the spread of sensitive technology."
Last year, Secretary Bodman announced that the United States would set aside 17.4 metric tons of HEU declared excess to the U.S. nuclear weapons program. The material will be down-blended to about 290 metric tons of low enriched uranium, worth approximately $750 million. The fuel will be available to qualifying countries that face a disruption in supply that cannot be corrected through normal commercial means.
"Down-blending this HEU will mark an important milestone in implementing the reliable fuel supply arrangement. Such a mechanism is essential if we are to avoid the uncontrolled spread of fuel cycle capabilities needed for producing nuclear fuel that can also be used for manufacturing nuclear weapons," said Linton F. Brooks, NNSA Administrator.
NNSA today published on the website www.fedbizopps.gov  a notice of intent to request proposals from companies interested in competing for the contract to down-blend the material. NNSA plans to award a contract in early 2007. The material is expected to be down-blended and available as a back up reserve in 2010.
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. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce 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.
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371