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Current Issues: Depleted Uranium Trade

(last updated 1 Sep 2017)


Depleted Uranium Trade


Depleted uranium trafficking

Georgia detains five suspected of selling depleted uranium

The security service in the former Soviet republic of Georgia said on Thursday (Apr. 28) it had detained five Georgian citizens who were trying to sell $3 million worth of radioactive uranium. Security service officers did not say whether the group had a buyer for the uranium, nor where the group had acquired it.
"The detainees were planning to sell nuclear material with total weights of 1 kilogramme and 665 grammes, which contained two radioactive isotopes - Uranium-238 and a small amount, 0.23 percent, of Uranium-235," security service investigator Savle Motiashvili told a briefing. (Reuters Apr. 28, 2016)

[The percentage for U-235 makes this depleted uranium. At current prices, re-enrichment is not feasible, leaving the waste management cost, which for 1.665 kg of this material (assuming U as U3O8) represents a "value" of US$ minus 13, rather than the quoted US$ plus 3 million. So, whoever they stole it from would have gladly given them a US$ 13 reward for taking it, if they had only asked him in beforehand... So, next time, before risking to be detained in dark dungeons for decades, try our Depleted Uranium Value Calculator first!]


Depleted uranium from radiation shields melted in French foundry

> See extra page


DU exports of Eurodif's enrichment facility (France)

(see re-enrichment details)
> See Upgrading of French enrichment tails in Russia


DU to be exported from USA to Canada as test material

On Jan. 21, 2004, Manufacturing Sciences Corp., Oak Ridge, Tennessee, applied for an export license (XSOU08801) to export 10.25 metric tonnes of depleted uranium U3O8 (max. 0.2 weight-percent U-235) to Canada as "Test material to make depleted uranium oxide in the Cameco Corporation facilities in Port Hope, Ontario".
The license was issued on March 17, 2004.


DU exports of Urenco's Almelo enrichment facility (The Netherlands)

(see re-enrichment details)
> See also: Urenco Almelo current issues

Urenco Almelo "temporarily" halts export of depleted uranium to Russia

Urenco Almelo has halted the export of depleted uranium to Russia for the time being. The contract with Russia expires this year, and, due to lack of capacities in Russia, the contract cannot be extend. Urenco is now going to manage the material on its own. New transports might be possible in the future, though, according to Urenco. (RTV Oost Nov. 9, 2009)

Dutch Council of State backs Urenco's shipments of depleted uranium from Almelo to Russia

Urenco's uranium enrichment plant in Almelo may continue the shipping of depleted uranium waste to Russia. On April 23, 2008, the Council of State (Raad von State , zaaknummer 200704127/1) dismissed the claim by Greenpeace that these shipments constitute an illegal dumping of waste.

Dutch Ministry discloses statistics of Urenco Almelo's depleted uranium trade with Russia and France; re-import from Russia also includes enriched uranium

On Jan. 22, 2008, the Dutch Ministry of Environment (VROM), in an answer to a parliamentary question, disclosed the transport statistics of the depleted uranium generated at Urenco's Almelo enrichment plant. The table shows the exports of depleted uranium from Almelo to Russia, the re-import of natural-grade and - so far unknown - enriched uranium from Russia, and the export of depleted uranium to France (for conversion to U3O8).

Year UF6 [x 1000 kg]
to Russia
depleted
UF6 [x 1000 kg]
back from Russia
0.7% 235U
UF6 [x 1000 kg]
back from Russia
approx. 4.5% 235U
UF6 [x 1000 kg]
to France for
conversion to U3O8
19964146671  
1997563944752 
1998513949745 
199948957075 
2000520973157 
20015147109236 
20026175148105 
20034315595781140
20041910 681625
20052726 1121460
20063779 1032648
20074603416683409

> Download Beantwoording Kamervragen lid Poppe 2070806430 over kernafvaltransporten (MS Word - in Dutch)

Dutch Ministry discloses details on Urenco Almelo's depleted uranium exports to Russia

On Nov. 27, 2007, the Dutch Ministry of Environment (VROM), in an answer to a parliamentary question, disclosed that almost half of the depleted uranium generated at Urenco's Almelo enrichment plant is sent to Russia for re-enrichment. On average, an annual amount of 3700 t of depleted uranium is sent to Russia, and 740 t of natural-equivalent uranium are returned from Russia. The secondary tails generated from the re-enrichment process remain in Russia.
> Download Beantwoording Kamervragen lid Poppe 2070802570 over transport van kernafval (MS Word, in Dutch)

Protests in Almelo against depleted uranium exports to Russia

On May 13, 2007, activists from the Netherlands, Germany, and Russia protested in Almelo against Urenco's depleted uranium exports to Russia. The protests were held in front of the Theater Hotel in Almelo, at the occasion of a conference on uranium enrichment held there by Urenco. (Ecodefense May 13, 2007)

Greenpeace takes legal action against depleted uranium exports to Russia

On April 2, 2007, the Dutch Raad van State heard the case filed by Greenpeace against VROM's export license for the transport of depleted uranium from Urenco's Almelo enrichment plant to Russia. A decision is still pending (zaaknummer 200702014/1).
On April 16, 2007, the Raad van State dismissed the case.

Blockade of Almelo enrichment plant

On Nov. 8, 2006, environmental activists from Russia, Germany, and The Netherlands blocked the access road to the Almelo enrichment plant.


DU exports of Urenco's Gronau enrichment facility (Germany)

> DU export statistics for Germany
> See also: re-enrichment details)
> See also: Urenco Gronau current issues · Tails upgrading in Russia

Urenco ships depleted uranium from its Gronau (Germany) plant to its Almelo (Netherlands) plant for re-enrichment

According to the answer of the German federal government to a parliamentary question, Urenco started shipping so-called Low Assay Feed from its Gronau (Germany) plant to its Almelo (Netherlands) plant for re-enrichment. The secondary tails resulting from the re-enrichment process are to stay in Almelo.
These transports comprised 2442.9 t UF6 in 2016, and 1289.3 t UF6 in 2017 (until end July).
(Bundestags-Drucksache 18/13402 , 24 Aug 2017).

Urenco continues to send depleted uranium from its Gronau (Germany) plant for deconversion to France, as completion of its own deconversion plant is delayed

According to the answer of the German federal government to a parliamentary question, Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant shipped 1297.5 t UF6 in 2016, and 168.2 t UF6 of depleted uranium hexafluoride (tails) to Areva's Usine W deconversion plant in Tricastin, France. The total amount deconverted for Urenco Gronau in Tricastin is given as 8,579 t U in the form of depleted uranium hexafluoride [corresponding to 12,687 t UF6]. (Bundestags-Drucksache 18/13402 , 24 Aug 2017).
The latter figure is equivalent to the amount shipped to Tricastin until 2013 (see below), so any tails shipped later should still be sitting in Tricastin in the form of uranium hexafluoride. However, the government surprisingly reports that the amount still waiting in Tricastin for deconversion is just 36 t UF6. The background for this inconsistency is unclear.
> See also: Urenco's Capenhurst tails de-conversion plant project delayed further

Russian environmentalist brings charge against Urenco for past depleted uranium exports from Germany to Russia

On Dec. 16, 2014, a Russian environmentalist of the organisation Ecodefense in Ekaterinburg brought a charge with the public prosecutor's office in Münster (Germany) against Urenco for illegal export of enrichment waste from Gronau to Russia. After the German government now appears to consider depleted uranium a waste rather than a resource, these exports carried out between 1996 and 2010 would therefore have to be reconsidered. (SOFA Münster Dec. 20, 2014)
> See also: Urenco Germany's depleted uranium to be disposed of in LLW rather than HLW repository?

Depleted uranium sent from Urenco's Gronau plant for deconversion to Tricastin still sitting in France

According to the answer of the German federal government to a parliamentary question, Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant has so far shipped 12,700 t depleted UF6 to Areva's Usine W deconversion plant in Tricastin, France. As the storage building for depleted U3O8 in Gronau is still under construction, the material is still stored in France, whether as UF6, or as U3O8. (Bundestags-Drucksache 17/12943 , 27. März 2013)

After asteroid impact only 200 kilometres from Novouralsk enrichment plant, groups demand better protection of depleted uranium stored in open cylinder yards

The explosion of an asteroid that caused serious damage in Chelyabinsk on Feb. 15, 2013, has alerted anti-nuclear groups in Germany. Part of Urenco's depleted uranium has been shipped for re-enrichment to Novouralsk, which is located just 200 kilometres from Chelyabinsk. As the containers holding the depleted uranium hexafluoride are stored in open yards, anti-nuclear activists from Gronau demand that Urenco and the German government immediately take measures for better protection of the stored material. (Westfälische Nachrichten Feb. 18, 2013)

Urenco Germany meets Russian environmentalists over storage of depleted uranium

On Sep. 17, 2011, Urenco Germany's managing director Joachim Ohnemus finally met three Russian environmentalists, who raised their concerns about the fate of the depleted uranium exported by Urenco to Russia. According to Rashid Alimov of ECOperestroika , every single year since 2003, Russia's supervisory body Rostechnadzor reports about serious safety problems with the storage of the depleted uranium hexafluoride supplied by Germany. Ohnemus maintained that the Russian partners have confirmed that the material is stored conforming to Russian safety standards. He even had visited the sites at Novouralsk and Angarsk to see for himself. (Scharf Links Sep. 19, 2011)

Angarsk enrichment plant has no objections to sending secondary depleted uranium tails back to Urenco, but Urenco plays dead

Alexander Belousow, director general of the Angarsk Electrolytic Chemical Combine (AEKhK) has no objections to sending the secondary depleted uranium tails left from re-enrichment of Urenco's tails back to Urenco, if Urenco would request this. Urenco Gronau, however, declined to meet a Russian journalist who wanted to know whether Urenco would be willing to take these tails back. (Westfälische Nachrichten May 20, 2011)

Urenco Germany exports part of its depleted uranium hexafluoride tails to stay in France

In 2009, Urenco Gronau sent approx. 2,320 t of tails for re-enrichment to Russia; approx. 2,570 t of tails were sent to a French enrichment customer, approx. 1,730 t of which for deconversion to uranium oxide [no mention, whether the oxide is to be returned to Germany], and 840 t to be kept in France.
(Umwelterklärung, Zweite Aktualisierung, Urenco Deutschland GmbH, Urananreicherungsanlage Gronau, 2009)

German Greens demand return of residues left from re-enrichment of Urenco's depleted uranium in Russia

The Greens in the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia have called Urenco to take back the residues left from re-enrichment of its depleted uranium in Russia. According to deputy parliamentary party leader Rainer Priggen, the material must be categorized as nuclear waste and has to be managed as such and should be deposited in Germany. (DDP Oct. 15, 2009)

Exports of depleted uranium from Germany to Russia finally have ceased

On Oct. 14, 2009, Urenco Germany's speaker Antje Evers confirmed that the exports of depleted uranium from Germany to Russia have ceased. The total amount of depleted uranium hexafluoride exported (from 1996 to 2009) from Urenco's Gronau plant to Russia's Tenex is 27,300 t UF6. 10 to 15% of this amount was sent back to Germany in the form of re-enriched uranium, while the remainder stays in Russia, stored in containers in the open air.
Urenco now sends it depleted uranium hexafluoride for deconversion to Areva's Usine W in Tricastin (France); the depleted uranium oxide is then shipped back to Gronau, where it is stored. (Der Spiegel Oct. 14, 2009)

Protests against presumably last depleted uranium export from Germany to Russia

On Aug. 26, 2009, 11:08 pm, a new rail transport of depleted uranium hexafluoride started from Gronau to Russia. Protests were held in Gronau and Münster. Apparently, this is the last transport of its kind, as announced by Urenco's shareholder E-on in May. (SOFA Münster, Aug. 27, 2009)

Activist stops train carrying depleted uranium from Gronau (Germany) to France

In the early morning of April 28, 2009, a French activist stopped a train carrying depleted uranium hexafluoride from Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant to France. The activist stopped the train by roping herself down from a motorway bridge near Münster (Germany). The train was delayed for about one hour. (dpa/SOFA Münster 28 Apr. 2009)

600 protest in Münster (Germany) against nuclear power and against depleted uranium exports from Germany to Russia

On April 25, 2009, 600 protesters held a demonstration in Münster (Germany) against nuclear power and against depleted uranium exports from Germany to Russia. Münster is located on the itinerary of the trains carrying the depleted uranium hexafluoride from the Gronau enrichment plant to the Rotterdam port, from where it is transported by ship to Russia. (Münstersche Zeitung April 25, 2009)

Protests against largest ever depleted uranium export from Germany to Russia

On March 11, 2009, the largest ever depleted uranium export from Germany to Russia started at Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant. The train consisted of 25 railcars carrying a total of 100 UF6-cylinders loaded with a total of 1250 t of depleted uranium. The train headed for the Rotterdam port, where the cylinders will be loaded onto the vessel MV Schouwenbank for the sea transport to St Petersburg. Protests against the transport were held at Gronau, Steinfurt, Altenberge, and Münster. (SOFA Münster March 12, 2009)
On March 19, 2009, prompted by the arrival of the ship in St Petersburg, about 30 members of St. Petersburg's ecological organizations protested the transportation of nuclear waste from other countries to Russia. "We are protesting nuclear transportation through St. Petersburg," said Rashid Alimov, co-chairman of the ECOperestroika ecological organization. (The St. Petersburg Times March 20, 2009)
On March 23, 2009, Ecodefence held a rally near the Rosatom building in Moscow against the depleted uranium tails transport. (AP March 23, 2009)

Demonstration against depleted uranium exports from Germany to Russia

On Dec. 10, 2008, approx. 70 people demonstrated in Münster (Westfalen) against the export of depleted uranium from Germany to Russia and the expansion of the Gronau enrichment plant, among others. (SOFA Münster Dec. 10, 2008)

Protests against depleted uranium transport from Gronau to Russia; blockade stops train

On June 4, 2008, another night-time rail transport of depleted uranium hexafluoride started from the Gronau (Germany) enrichment plant destined for the Rotterdam port. The depleted uranium is to be shipped to Russia for re-enrichment. A blockade stopped the train near Steinfurt-Borghorst for about one hour; a demonstration with 70 participants was held in Münster. (SOFA Münster June 4, 2008)
On June 12, 2008, protests were held in St Petersburg at the occasion of the arrival of the ship carrying the depleted uranium.

Urenco's exports of depleted uranium to Russia to be terminated in 2009

On April 30, 2008, Urenco shareholder e.on confirmed at its AGM in Essen that the export of depleted uranium to Russia will be terminated in 2009, when the contracts with Russia expire. (SOFA Münster May 1, 2008)

Protests against depleted uranium transport from Gronau to Russia; environmentalist arrested in St Petersburg

On April 9, 2008, another night-time rail transport of depleted uranium hexafluoride started from the Gronau (Germany) enrichment plant destined for the Rotterdam port. The depleted uranium is to be shipped to Russia for re-enrichment. Protests were held along the itinerary of the train in Gronau, Steinfurt, Altenberge, Münster, Emsdetten, and Almelo. (SOFA Münster April 9, 2008)
A Bellona activist was arrested on April 18, 2008, and one from Ecodefence fled police custody during a protest the two organizations arranged against the ongoing shipments of depleted uranium hexafluoride from German enrichment giant Urenco, another load of which put in to the Port of St. Petersburg on April 17, 2008. (Bellona April 18, 2008)

Protests against depleted uranium transport from Gronau to Russia

On March 5, 2008, another night-time rail transport of depleted uranium hexafluoride started from the Gronau (Germany) enrichment plant destined for the Rotterdam port. The depleted uranium is to be shipped to Russia for re-enrichment. Protests were held along the itinerary of the train in Burgsteinfurt, Münster, Emsdetten, Rheine, and Almelo. (SOFA Münster Mar. 5, 2008)

Protests against depleted uranium transport from Gronau to Russia; blockade stops train for six hours; environmentalists detained near St Petersburg

On Jan. 16, 2008, another night-time rail transport of depleted uranium hexafluoride started from the Gronau (Germany) enrichment plant destined for the Rotterdam port. The depleted uranium is to be shipped to Russia for re-enrichment. Protests were held along the itinerary of the train. Near Burgsteinfurt, a blockade stopped the train for six hours. (SOFA Münster Jan. 16/17, 2008)
On Jan. 24, 2008, Ecodefense and Bellona held a demonstration in St Petersburg against the arrival of the vessel MV Schouwenbank, carrying approx. 2000 t of depleted uranium.
On Jan. 30, 2008, three environmentalists and a photographer were detained at Kapitolovo train station near St. Petersburg when trying to monitor radiation levels near the train. The four were later released without charge. (St Petersburg Times Feb. 1, 2008)

Protests against depleted uranium transport from Gronau to Russia; train passes unsecured level crossing; demonstration held in St. Petersburg in spite of ban

On Oct. 4, 2007, another night-time rail transport of depleted uranium hexafluoride started from the Gronau (Germany) enrichment plant destined for the Rotterdam port. The depleted uranium is to be shipped to Russia for re-enrichment. Protests were held along the itinerary of the train in Gronau, Altenberge, Münster main station, Münster-Sprakel, Greven and Rheine. (SOFA Münster Oct. 5, 2007)
At Burgsteinfurt, the train passed an unsecured level crossing. The German Railway was aware that the warning lights and the automatic barrier were out of function that night, but did not take any special precautions to protect the crossing of the hazardous freight train. (Steinfurter Kreisblatt Oct. 10, 2007)
Environmental organisation Ecodefense was denied the right to hold a demonstration at the arrival of the transport in St. Petersburg harbour on Oct. 11, 2007. (Ecodefense Oct. 9, 2007)
On October 11, 2007, Ecodefense held a demonstration in St. Petersburg in spite of the ban. The police terminated the demonstration after 15 minutes and detained 9 persons. (Ecodefense Oct. 11, 2007)

Protests against depleted uranium transport from Gronau to Russia

On May 9, 2007, another night-time rail transport of depleted uranium hexafluoride started from the Gronau (Germany) enrichment plant destined for the Rotterdam port. The depleted uranium is to be shipped to Russia for re-enrichment. Protests were held along the itinerary of the train in Gronau, Burgsteinfurt, Altenberge, Münster, Greven, Emsdetten, Rheine und Hengelo. (SOFA Münster May 10, 2007)

Protests at E.ON Annual Shareholders Meeting against Urenco's depleted uranium exports to Russia

During the Annual Shareholders Meeting of Urenco shareholder E.ON held in Essen on May 3, 2007, activists of Ecodefense Russia and Aktionsbündnis Münsterland raised the issue of Urenco's exports of depleted uranium to Russia. (SOFA Münster May 3, 2007)

Protests at E.ON headquarter against Urenco's depleted uranium exports to Russia

On March 26, 2007, German and Russian activists held a demonstration in front of the E.ON headquarter in Düsseldorf, Germany. They protested against uranium enrichment and depleted uranium tails exports to Russia. E.ON is an utility owning one sixth of uranium enricher Urenco. (SOFA Münster March 26, 2007)

Protests against depleted uranium transport from Gronau to Russia

On February 28, 2007, another night-time rail transport of depleted uranium hexafluoride started from the Gronau (Germany) enrichment plant for re-enrichment in Russia. Protests were held along the train's itinerary in Germany in Gronau, Burgsteinfurt, Münster, Greven, and Emsdetten, and in the Netherlands in Almelo. (SOFA Mar. 2, 2007)

Underfeeding at Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant results in reasons for tails exports to Russia becoming obsolete

Abstract
Urenco Deutschland GmbH has disclosed that it is underfeeding its Gronau (Germany) uranium enrichment plant since 2004: while from 1991 to 2002, the natural uranium feed consumption of the plant virtually followed the continuous capacity increase of the plant, the feed consumption no longer followed the capacity increase from 2004 - it even began to decline. Urenco explains this with changes in product and/or tails assays, without giving any details.
Given the rapid increase of the price of fresh uranium, underfeeding may make sense, since it allows to reduce natural uranium consumption at the expense of increased separation work. A closer analysis shows that the observed decline in feed consumption must be mainly caused from a reduced tails assay.
As most of Urenco‘s depleted uranium tails are exported to Russia for re-enrichment, a reduced assay of the tails exported has serious consequences on the viability of any re-enrichment of these tails. It turns out that the assay of the tails delivered to Russia comes close to the assay that Urenco most likely has contracted with Russia for re-enrichment on Urenco‘s behalf. Therefore, unless the contractual arrangements have been changed, almost nothing remains to be re-enriched in Russia on these tails on Urenco‘s behalf, and the amount of recovered natural uranium sent back to Urenco tends towards zero.
This means that the official justification for sending the tails to Russia (recovery of usable uranium from the tails) has become obsolete. Since the transfer of tails to Russia rather continues, this can be seen as a further hint on the true reason for these exports: to provide a cheap tails disposition route to Urenco.

> Download full paper (39k PDF - in English)

Also available in German:
Geänderte Betriebsweise in Urencos Urananreicherungsanlage Gronau führt dazu, daß die Begründung für die Exporte des abgereicherten Urans nach Rußland hinfällig wird
> Download full paper (40k PDF - in German)

Protests against depleted uranium export from Gronau to Russia

On January 31, 2007, another night-time rail transport of depleted uranium hexafluoride started from the Gronau (Germany) enrichment plant for re-enrichment in Russia. Protests were held in Gronau, Burgsteinfurt, and Münster, along the train's itinerary in Germany. (SOFA Feb. 1, 2007)

Ecodefense calls for legal action against Urenco for DU exports to Russia

The Russian non-governmental environment group Ekozashchita (Ecodefense) asked a German public prosecutor "to investigate the activities of the German branch of Urenco which illegally delivers nuclear waste to Russia," a spokesman for the group, Vladimir Sliviak, told AFP.
The group accused the company of transporting 20,000 tonnes of waste depleted uranium to Russia for further enrichment since 1996 under a deal with the Russian uranium-enrichment company Techsnabexport. Some 90 pct of the waste uranium has since remained in Russia, the group alleged, claiming that such movement of nuclear material is forbidden under Russian and German environmental laws. Techsnabexport rebuffed the charge, telling AFP that it had transported "not nuclear waste, but primary materials". It was backed up in this claim by the Russian nuclear authorities. (AFX Nov. 10, 2006)
(Staatsanwaltschaft Münster, Aktenzeichen: 540 Js 1814/06)
On May 18, 2007, the public prosecutor dropped the charge.

Blockade in Gronau against upcoming depleted uranium export to Russia

In the morning of Nov. 6, 2006, German und Russian environmentalists blocked the access road to the Gronau enrichment plant. Approx. 20 participants protested an upcoming transport of depleted uranium to Ekaterinburg in Russia. (WDR Nov. 6, 2006)

Protests and blockade against DU transport from Gronau to Russia

On May 31, 2006, another night-time rail transport of depleted uranium hexafluoride started from the Gronau (Germany) enrichment plant for re-enrichment in Russia. Demonstrators stopped the train for a short period of time at Burgsteinfurt. (SOFA Münster May 31, 2006)
On June 7, 2006, the vessel Doggersbank shipping the DU from Rotterdam arrived in St Petersburg.
Speaker of the legislative assembly of St. Petersburg Vadim Tyulpanov has expressed indignation with the arrival of the ship Doggersbank carrying 1,000 tonnes of depleted uranium at the seaport of the city. "It is shocking that St. Petersburg is being used as a transit point for radioactive waste from all over Europe. The traffic of such waste across Russian territory must be stopped". (Interfax June 7, 2006)
Environmental organisation Ecodefense appealed to the St Petersburg prosecutor officially with the demand to investigate the radioactive waste transport and stop it, since art 48 of the Russian Law on nature protection says that import of radioactive waste is forbidden.
On June 8, 2006, environmental organisation Ecodefense held protests in Ekaterinburg, near the presumed destination of the transport (Novouralsk). Ecodefense also transmitted a petition to the Consul-General of Germany in Ekaterinburg demanding to halt German-Russian transportation of radioactive waste immediately. (Ecodefense June 8, 2006)

Protests against DU transport from Gronau to Russia

On April 19, 2006, another night-time rail transport of depleted uranium hexafluoride started from the Gronau (Germany) enrichment plant for re-enrichment in Russia. The train consisted of 18 railcars carrying a total of approx. 900 t UF6. Protests were held in Münster and Greven. (Wigatom April 19, 2006)

Protests against DU transport from Gronau to Russia

On January 25, 2006, about 100 anti-nuclear activists protested a night-time rail transport of depleted uranium from the Gronau (Germany) enrichment plant to Russia. The train traveled via Münster and Rheine to the Rotterdam harbour (Netherlands). Vigils were held at various stations along the train's itinerary. (WDR Jan. 26, 2006)
On March 8, 2006, the anticipated arrival date of the transport in St Petersburg, the environmental NGO Ecodefense called for an immediate stop of such illegal imports of radioactive waste to Russia. (Ecodefense March 8, 2006) According to Viktor Seredenko, a department head at the Institute of Chemical Technologies, the depleted uranium hexafluoride was not considered radioactive waste by international standards. (RIA Novosti March 9, 2006)

Protests against DU transport from Gronau to Russia

On April 13, 2005, about 150 anti-nuclear activists protested a night-time rail transport of depleted uranium from the Gronau (Germany) enrichment plant to Russia. Protests and vigils were held in the cities of Gronau, Münster und Greven, among others. (NRZ April 14, 2005)

Protests and blockades against depleted UF6 transport from Gronau, Germany, to Russia

At several locations in northwestern Germany, more than 120 anti-nuclear activists protested a train transport of depleted UF6 with vigils and blockades. The transport started from Gronau at 19:30 hrs on March 2, 2005, and traveled to The Netherlands.

Vigil at Gronau enrichment plant against DU transport to Russia

On June 21, 2004, anti-nuclear groups began a vigil against an anticipated large transport of depleted uranium hexafluoride to Russia for re-enrichment. The material is loaded on 16 railcars, and it is expected that the train will depart for the Rotterdam (Netherlands) seaport at 17:00 hrs on June 22. (ddp June 21, 2004)
Green State Parliament Group member Rüdiger Sagel called for an end to the transports, for a denial of the requested license amendment for further expansion of the Gronau enrichment plant, and for a halt to all enrichment operations in Gronau. These would interfere with the principal logic of the nuclear phase-out plan adopted for Germany. Green Parliament Group Northrhine-Westphalia release, June 24, 2004 (in German)

 

DU export statistics for Germany

Urenco Gronau's exports of depleted uranium tails [t UF6]
DestinationPurpose2005200620072008200920102011
Russiare-enrichment1,0003,7004,6003,7002,320  
Francede-conversion   6201,7303,5403,565
disposition    840694297
Source: Umwelterklärung (und Aktualisierungen) Urenco Deutschland GmbH 2007-2011

German exports of depleted uranium [kg U]   (excerpt)
Destination2001200220032004200520062007200820092010
Russia2,092,7701,992,2032,073,8861,204,919651,6392,504,8003,132,2042,507,6591,572,3231,747
France403,3932,5703,8646565,93803,098422,9671,737,5483,369,893
United Kingdom6276,097390,974128350051
Others5033,5543,3771,9343,1546,0913,106536,4019,2287,318
Total2,496,6722,274,4242,472,1011,207,521660,7392,510,8943,138,4133,467,0273,319,0993,379,009

Destination201120122013
Russia1,041  
France2,769,755  
United Kingdom54  
Others12,530  
Total2,783,380  
Source: Umweltradioaktivität und Strahlenbelastung Jahresberichte 2001-2011, Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit, Bonn

> See also German exports of depleted uranium to Russia for re-enrichment

 

DU exports of Urenco's Gronau enrichment facility disclosed: Urenco not only exports depleted uranium hexafluoride to Russia for re-enrichment (see details): the answer of the German Federal Government to a parliamentary question revealed that depleted UF6 from Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant also is exported to a number of other facilities across Europe:

Exports of depleted uranium in the form of UF6 to destinations other than Russia [kg U]
YearCogema,
Pierrelatte
BNFL,
Capenhurst
BNFL,
Springfields
Westinghouse Atom AB,
Västerås
Eurodif,
Pierrelatte
1998251,188125,6458,504  
1999251,18183,763   
2000100,35466,976 17,925 
2001401,716    
2002 276,086   
2003 390,971   
2004     
2005     
2006     
2007     
2008184,101   234,675
2009 (Jan-Jun)333,936   200,982
[Source: Bundestags-Drucksache 14/6692 (July 16, 2001) , 16/5381 (May 18, 2007) , 17/253 (Dec. 16, 2009) (PDF)]

(see also: Depleted Uranium Processing and Storage Facilities)

The government's answer contains no mention of the purpose of these exports nor the further fate of the exported DU.


USEC request to import (!) Depleted Uranium to the U.S.

While the U.S. DOE is planning to spend hundreds of millions of Dollars to get rid of a stockpile of 739,000 metric tonnes of depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6), the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC Inc. ) is requesting to import depleted uranium. In a letter dated May 18, 2001, USEC presented its plans to import depleted uranium (DU), under the provisions of a general license. USEC is requesting that NRC confirm that DU can be imported as source material, as opposed to radioactive waste. (a copy of the letter can be obtained from ADAMS under Accession Number: ML012290251 ).

This letter includes the Depleted Uranium Management Plans for Portsmouth and Paducah dated Sept. 15, 2000, containing the following balance for USEC's DU:

Table 1. Estimated amount of depleted uranium (DU) generated by USEC and its disposition, in metric tons uranium (MTU) for PORTS and PGDP combined.
YearDU Generated by USECDU Transfers to Starmet CMIDU Transfers to DOE under 6/30/98 agreement(3)Other DU to DOE(2)Estimated net cumulative USEC DU
July 1, 1993- June 30, 199767,87400(67,874)0
FY199811,55400(11,554)0
FY199913,193(1,085)(820)(373)10,915
FY200011,708(1,660)(3,367)017,596
FY20017,107(1,355)(2,400)020,948
FY20028,8810(2,400)027,429
FY20038,8250(3,800)032,454
July 1, 2003- Dec.31, 2003(1)4,5100(3,887)033,077
Totals133,652(4,100)(16,674)(79,801)33,077
Notes:
1. Projections are provided through current NRC Certification of Compliance expiration date, December 31, 2003.
2. DOE retains liability for depleted uranium generated prior to USEC's privatization (July 28, 1998) per USEC Privatization Act (Public Law 104-134, Sec 3109, paragraph (a)(3)).
3. Total to be transferred to DOE is the quantity in 2026 48G cylinders, estimated to total approximately 16,674 MTU. [USEC paid over US$50 million for this transfer.]

 

On Aug. 22, 2001, USEC met with NRC staff to make its case that DU could be brought into the U.S. under a general license as source material. Citing U.S. regulations and a recent French court decision, USEC officials said DU should not be considered a waste. (NRC Meeting Notice Aug. 8, 2001; Platts Nuclear News Flashes Aug. 22, 2001)
At the meeting, USEC indicated that the total potential quantity is about 5,000 metric tonnes of DU. One potential use would be as feed material for its Silex advanced laser enrichment process. (Nuclear Fuel Sep 3, 2001)

A follow-up meeting between USEC and NRC was held on October 3, 2001. In this meeting, USEC withdrew its previous request. USEC now would like the NRC to consider an application for a specific license without having to make a determination of whether or not DU is considered to be radioactive waste. (NRC memorandum Oct. 10, 2001)

In a letter to USEC, NRC stated on Jan. 18, 2002, that an import license can only be issued if an acceptable disposal approach is provided, including, for example, an agreement with DOE or a contract with a licensed Low-Level Radioactive Waste disposal site, accepting the material for disposal.
Moreover, "for purposes of the issuance of a specific license to import DUF6, this material would be classified as waste since there is not a clear foreseeable use." (emphasis added)


Depleted Uranium Counterweights Melted into Aluminum Ingots

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Import of DU counterweights from United Kingdom to USA for land burial in Texas

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Starmet requests license amendment to import more DU waste from United Kingdom

Starmet CMI holds NRC Import License No. IW008 to import 80,000 kgs of depleted uranium of depleted uranium metal and oxide in the form of machined swarf/turnings and solid cylindrical pieces from the United Kingdom to its Barnwell, South Carolina facility. The point of origin is the British Ministry of Defense Royal Ordnance Facility in the United Kingdom. The authorized end use is for recycle of the depleted uranium and conversion for production of radiation shielding products.

By letter dated September 28, 2000, Starmet requests an increase of the amount of DU to 250,000 kgs, and the addition of the AEA Technologies Harwell facility as a supplier.


U.S. NRC Petition for Rulemaking concerning control of disused DU counterweights

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