Uranium Enrichment and Fuel Fabrication - Current Issues (Russia)
(last updated 13 Feb 2016)
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On 22 April TVEL Fuel Company (a subsidiary of ROSATOM), the National Atomic Energy Commission of Argentina and INVAP S.E. , a design and construction company wholly owned by the government of Rio Negro (Argentina), have signed two memorandums of understanding as part of the official visit of Kristina Kirchner, President of the Republic of Argentina, to Moscow.
The documents provide for a broad cooperation and joint initiatives in the field of nuclear energy, including deliveries of low-enriched uranium fuel and its components for the research and power reactors in Argentina, supplies of TVEL-manufactured zirconium components of the nuclear fuel cycle, and joint research and development projects.
(Rosatom Apr. 22, 2015)
The German paper Süddeutsche Zeitung says prosecutors are probing Germany's third biggest power utility, EnBW, for allegedly transferring funds to Switzerland, possibly to obtain nuclear fuel rods and gas from Russia.
The German power utility Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW) had secretly channeled about 280 million euros ($386 million) to "slush fund" accounts in Switzerland and then to a Russian lobbyist and his Swiss firms, the German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) claimed on Monday (Oct. 28).
But, after getting "cold feet," EnBW later applied to retrospectively revise its tax returns for the period 2000-2007 and paid some 60 million euros to Germany's revenue collection service, said the daily, which is widely read in Germany.
(Deutsche Welle Oct. 28, 2013)
> See also: Verdacht auf schwarze Kassen bei EnBW (Süddeutsche Zeitung Oct. 28, 2013 - in German)
Russia and Ukraine are discussing the creating of a joint venture for the conversion and enrichment of uranium on Russian soil, the head of Russia's state nuclear power corporation Rosatom, Sergei Kirienko, has told the press.
The two countries already have a JV in Ukraine for the fabrication of nuclear fuel, in which Ukraine holds the controlling stake. If the enrichment JV in Russia is set up, Russia will have control, Kirienko said.
Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Yuriy Boiko has confirmed that the countries are interested in integration in the field of converting and enriching uranium, as Ukraine has undertaken not to perform such operations at home.
(Interfax Oct. 4, 2012)
> See also:
Russia sends last shipment of downblended HEU for use in U.S. reactors
A 20-year-old deal that has powered American homes while reducing the risk of Russian nuclear material falling into the wrong hands approached its end on Thursday (Nov. 14) when the final shipment of uranium left St Petersburg for Baltimore.
Under the 1993 HEU Purchase Agreement, Russia downblended 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from nuclear weapons into low-enriched uranium and sent it to the United States, where it was made into fuel for nuclear power plants.
(Reuters Nov. 14, 2013)
Downblending program of Russian HEU for use in U.S. reactors 95 percent complete
On June 24, 2013, USEC Inc. announced that the Megatons to Megawatts program has completed downblending of 475 metric tons of weapons-grade uranium into fuel for commercial nuclear power plants and is on schedule to complete the program in 2013.
Russia not planning to extend HEU-LEU deal
Russia is not planning to extend the Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Agreement with the U.S., Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) chief Sergei Kiriyenko said. The HEU-LEU agreement will expire in 2013.
Russia commitments under the existing agreement will be fulfilled, Kiriyenko said. Russia has implemented the program by more than half, having
converted over 250 tonnes of highly-enriched uranium, he said.
(Interfax July 15, 2006)
Companies Amend Deal for Uranium from Dismantled Russian Nuclear Weapons
Cameco, COGEMA and RWE NUKEM (collectively the western companies) announced they have signed an amendment with Techsnabexport (Tenex) that ensures the continued operation of the UF6 Feed Component Implementing Contract (HEU Contract) to the end of its term in 2013. The amendment provides for, amongst other things, that the western companies will forego a portion of their future options on non-quota HEU-derived uranium (i.e. quantities for consumption outside the US) to ensure there is sufficient material in Russia for blending down the weapons grade HEU to commercially usable low enriched uranium (LEU). This change was needed in light of Russia's rising requirements for uranium to fuel their expanding nuclear plant construction program within Russia and abroad. The amendment to the HEU Contract is subject to approval by the US and Russian governments.
(Cameco June 16, 2004)
US, Russia, agree on flexible pricing terms for Megatons to Megawatts program
The U.S. and Russian governments have approved implementation of new, flexible market-based pricing terms for the remaining 12 years of the historic Megatons to Megawatts national security program. The new flexible pricing terms will go into effect in January 2003.
The terms of the amendment between USEC and Tenex, the Russian executive agent, include a commitment through 2013 to purchase at least 5.5 million SWU annually, which is derived from approximately 30 metric tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU), resulting in the purchase of a total of 500 metric tons.
(USEC June 19, 2002)
German nuclear power plants silently use fuel made from recycled uranium and Russian military HEU
> View here
TVEL set to ship fuel pellets to India
India's Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) has signed a protocol of acceptance with TVEL for the first 30 tonnes of uranium dioxide pellets to fuel Indian nuclear power reactors.
The protocol for the shipment of the first batch of nuclear fuel pellets to be sent to India was signed after a delegation from NFC visited TVEL's Mashinostroitelny Zavod (Elemash) plant in Elektrostal near Moscow, Russia.
TVEL and India's Department of Atomic Energy signed a long-term fuel pellet supply contract worth over $700 million in February. Under the contract, TVEL will supply uranium dioxide pellets to Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) for several years to ensure fuel supply to the Tarapur plant in Maharashtra state.
TVEL was the first company to have signed such a contract since the lifting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group 's (NSG's) restrictions on India in September 2008. The first delivery of pellets to India is scheduled for the spring of 2009.
(WNN Mar. 23, 2009)
Capacity increase at TVEL Elektrostal nuclear fuel plant
Production of nuclear fuel pellets should be boosted by 400 tonnes per year following the launch of a new plant, TVEL announced. The 'dry conversion facility' - built at a cost of more than US$15 million - was commissioned at the end of March 2003 at the Elektrostal plant of TVEL subsidiary JSC Mashinistroitelny Zavod. The plant reconverts enriched uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas into uranium dioxide (UO2) powder. Plant construction was supervised by engineers from Framatome ANP in Germany. (WNA News Briefing April 8, 2003)
> see also Downblending of Russian HEU for use in U.S. nuclear power plants
> see also Tails upgrading
Employee suffers burns in explosion at Seversk nuclear fuel plant
On Feb. 9, 2015, the head of JSC "Siberian Chemical Plant" (Seversk) gave the following statement on an accident that occured on Feb. 8, 2015:
"At 15:36 in the performance of technical operations occurred a depressurization of one of the tanks with depleted uranium nitride. The product, which was there, in the interaction with oxygen is capable of spontaneous combustion that happened. As a result, the Lavsan [trade name for a polyester fiber] jumpsuit of our employee caught fire, from which he received thermal burns. At 16.15 the victim was taken to the medical assistant's point of the plant, where he received first aid, he was then hospitalized in the Burn Center of the Regional Hospital. On the morning of Monday, February 9, he was flown for treatment to the FMBA of Russia in Moscow".
Russia to start direct supplies of enriched uranium to Japan
The Russian state-run civil nuclear corporation Rosatom may start direct supplies of enriched uranium to Japan following ratification of a bilateral agreement in Japan's Diet, Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov said on Friday (Dec. 9).
Ratification of the agreement will radically simplify supply routes, general director of Rosatom's sale subsidiary, Alexei Grigoriyev, told RIA Novosti.
The ratification of the bilateral agreement also gives opportunities to deliver higher quality products to Japan and enrich Japanese regenerated uranium, stored in Europe, in Russia.
(RIA Novosti Dec. 10, 2011)
TVEL takes over uranium enrichment company
TVEL , a Russian state corporation and one of the global leaders among nuclear fuel producers, has purchased 100 percent of voting shares in United Company RSK ("Separation-Sublimation Complex"), according to TVEL. The company has not revealed the amount of the deal, however.
As reported earlier, the Russian atomic energy state corporation Rosatom passed a decision in November 2009 on the creation of a fuel company on the basis of TVEL assets. With that in mind, the purchase of the integrated company - a producer of enriched uranium - marks the first stage of the new company's creation.
(RBC July 26, 2010)
Decommissioning of former Krasnoyarsk nuclear fuel plant completed
The site of a plant for the production of ceramic powders of low concentration uranium dioxide has become the first nuclear facility in Russia to be returned to a greenfield site.
On 29 June, representatives of Russian nuclear fuel producer TVEL and state nuclear company Rosatom's technical committee signed a document to mark the completion of decommissioning of the facility at JSC Chemical and Metallurgical Plant in Krasnoyarsk, in the far east of Russia.
In a statement, TVEL said that the completion of decommissioning of the plant marks the first time that the site of an industrial-scale nuclear facility has been totally demolished and decontaminated. It said that the site now poses no hazard and can now be used for another industrial or social use.
The cost of the project to decommission the site totalled some 656 million roubles ($21 million), which was provided by Rosatom and the federal budget.
(WNN June 30, 2010)
Russia and South Africa eye cooperation in conversion and enrichment of uranium
Russia and South Africa have studied the possibility of a cooperation in conversion and enrichment of uranium at the Angarsk enrichment plant.
(RIA Novosti Jan. 23, 2009)
TVEL aims to sell nuclear fuel in the US market by 2014
Russia's TVEL aims to sell fuel in the US market by 2014 in cooperation with General Electric, TVEL President Yuri Olenin told a press conference, according to the Nuclear.ru Internet news agency.
Olenin was quoted as saying agreements would be signed in January-February
2008 to qualify TVEL's TVS-kvadrat fuel assembly with General Electric, as
well as with an unnamed European company for deployment in the western
The TVS-kvadrat fuel would be fabricated in the US under license, he said. The
TVS-kvadrat is a square fuel assembly design, developed for Western reactors
from the traditional hexagonal assembly used in Russian-design reactors.
Olenin predicted that TVEL's share of the world nuclear fuel market would rise
from the current 17% to 30% in 2010.
(Platts Dec. 20, 2007)
Japan to contract Russia for enrichment of recycled uranium
The Japanese government and Japan's major electric power companies have entered the final stage of negotiations with Russia for consigning the enrichment of uranium to Atomenergoprom, or Atomprom, which is to be established as Russia's state-run monopoly for the nuclear energy industry, according to sources close to the deal.
The Japanese side plans to initially consign the enrichment of uranium that was recovered from spent fuel rods and has been stored in Britain.
Though electric power companies had consigned the recovery of uranium from spent fuel to firms in Britain and France, enrichment of the recovered uranium has not progressed partly because of high costs.
The amount of recovered uranium deposited by Japan with the two countries has ballooned to 6,400 tons.
In the future, the Japanese side plans to consign to Russia the enrichment of natural uranium produced in mines to which Japan has obtained the rights in Russia and Kazakhstan.
The Japanese and Russian governments aim to reach a basic agreement over the deal at a summit level meeting by the summer, and will also negotiate the signing of a bilateral nonproliferation accord to prevent nuclear material from getting into third parties' hands, which is essential to consigning the works, the sources said.
(The Yomiuri Shimbun Feb. 22, 2007)
Russian and Japanese NGOs are opposing the project.
> View Statement by Japanese and Russian Environmental Groups: Consequences of Japan-Russia-Uranium Enrichment Deal, Feb. 28, 2007 (Green Action)
Kazatomprom to obtain share in Russian enrichment plants in exchange for uranium deliveries?
> See here
U.S. and Russia sign liability protocol for plutonium disposition program
Cogema to supply U.S. DOE with MOX technology for Russia
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will contract with Cogema to transfer mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication technology to Russia, DOE announced. Under the contract, which has yet to be negotiated, Cogema would provide "proprietary intellectual property" and "limited technical support" to the U.S. DOE for construction of a mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility in Russia. The MOX fuel will be fabricated using some 34 metric tonnes of former Russian weapons plutonium as part of the U.S.-Russian plutonium disposition program.
(Platts Nov. 12, 2004)
> View Presolicitation notice, Russian MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility - Transfer of Cogema Technology, DE-AC02-05CH11253, Nov. 12, 2004
New UO2 powder production line commissioned at Novosibirsk nuclear fuel plant
The Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant - part of Russia's TVEL - has commissioned a new production line for uranium dioxide powder. The new line uses a high-temperature 'dry' process, rather than 'wet' extraction technology currently used at the plant.
The new process uses high-temperature pyrohydrolysis to produce uranium dioxide (UO2) powder that will be formed into pellets and encased in alloy tubes to form fuel rods. Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant (NCCP) held a ceremony yesterday to mark the commissioning of its new line, attended by Yuri Olenin, president of TVEL, and Victor Tolokonsky, governor of the Novosibirsk region.
The construction schedule for the pilot production line, which has a capacity of 400 tonnes per year, was approved by TVEL executives in August 2007. In 2010, all construction work was completed, equipment installed and the site was officially handed over for commissioning. Investment in the project totalled over 800 million roubles ($26 million).
According to TVEL, using the dry conversion process rather than the wet process will substantially reduce the cost of the UO2 powder produced. This is primarily due to maximum automation of the dry conversion process. In addition, the production capacity of the new line is three times that of several existing wet process production lines at the Novosibirsk plant.
TVEL also noted that new production line would have the advantage of reducing the amount of nuclear material feed placed in the process equipment, as well as cutting the amount of work in progress. The line should reduce the impact on the environment and minimize the plant's generation of hazardous waste.
(World Nuclear Association Sep. 2, 2010)
Factories linked to Novosibirsk nuclear fuel plant polluting major river in Siberia - prosecutors
About ten industrial facilities linked to a major nuclear-fuel plant in western Siberia are polluting the Ob River, local prosecutors said on March 16, 2006.
The factories are all linked to a waste-treatment plant owned by the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant (NCCP), a key part of Russia's nuclear-fuel production industry.
Local water-administration authorities refused to renew the plant's drainage license in October 2005, saying its treatment systems were inefficient and that it failed to report the precise volume of waste being dumped into the river and the waste's hazardous content.
"We set a threshold for chemical concentration in waste when issuing licenses to protect the environment," a local official said. "How we are supposed to issue a license if we do not even know the amount of waste dumped in the river?"
The official said that the NCCP should install efficient purification facilities before a license can be issued. NCCP officials, however, said the plant would not apply for a new license, as it no longer sent waste through the treatment plant, which is now used only by other enterprises.
A local court fined NCCP 25,000 rubles ($898) and ordered the suspension of waste disposal through the plant until a new license was granted.
Ecology experts are carrying out the evaluation of environmental damages caused by waste dumping into the Ob River, the world's fourth longest at about 2,300 miles, which flows from Russia's mountainous Altai Region through Novosibirsk and empties into the Arctic Ocean.
A controlling stake in NCCP is held by TVEL Corp. , a 100% state-owned joint-stock company that produces nuclear fuel for Russia's nuclear power plants.
(RIA Novosti March 16, 2006)
Seversk conversion plant becomes joint stock company
The new name is Stock Company 'Siberiangroup of Chemical Enterprises' (SC 'SGChE').
(SCC Nov. 7, 2014)
"Public hearing" on new Seversk conversion plant project held behind closed doors
The nuclear industry fulfilled all requirements of law, and announced the Sep. 12, 2014, hearing in Rossiiskaya Gazeta 30 days in advance. But by then it was too late to apply for entry to the closed city of Seversk. So, the hearing was entirely restricted to nuclear workers and other residents of the closed city of Seversk.
(Bellona Sep. 17, 2014)
Public comment invited on Environmental Impact Assessment for new Seversk conversion plant project
> View SCC release Aug. 12, 2014 (in Russian).
Submit comments by September 11, 2014.
New Seversk plant to replace Angarsk conversion plant in second quarter of 2014
Beginning with the second quarter of 2014 the entire amount of uranium hexafluoride production will be performed at the SCC in Seversk, and therefore the similar production of AEC in Angarsk will be closed, according to a decision of the State Corporation Rosatom.
(SCC Jan. 28, 2014)
New conversion plant project to end obsolete practice of underground disposal of liquid radioactive waste at Seversk
A modern, environmentally safe facility capable of processing different uranium feedstock is scheduled to be constructed by 2016. The new facility is not only to meet all demands of TVEL in feed uranium conversion, but also to retrieve uranium from waste uranium products generated during nuclear fuel manufacturing at other TVEL enterprises. Once the new facility is constructed, the uranium processing capacities at JSC 'ChMP' (Glazov) and JSC 'AECC' (Angarsk) are going to be decommissioned.
Radioactive Waste Management at the New Conversion Facility of 'TVEL'® Fuel Company , by S.I. Indyk, A.V. Volodenko, K.A. Tvilenev, et al., WM2013 Conference, February 24 – 28, 2013, Phoenix, Arizona USA (376k PDF)
Russian uranium (hexafluoride) production to be concentrated in Seversk (Tomsk region)
All the production of uranium in Russia will be concentrated in the Siberian town of Seversk by 2016, Oleg Bekmemetyev, a deputy director general of the Chepetsk Mechanical Plant (CMZ) told reporters Friday (Jan. 25).
"There are three facilities producing uranium in Russia," he said. "There'll be a single one and it'll be located in Seversk in Siberia. A project has been drafted for concentrating the entire production capability there."
At present, uranium is carried from the Far East to Glazov in Udmurtia, a region located to the West of the Urals, as well as to Angarsk in the Irkutsk region and to Seversk in the Tomsk region in central Siberia, and this pattern is inefficient in terms of logistics.
"It's much easier to bring uranium to Seversk, to dress it there and to supply it to the factories producing nuclear fuel," Bekmemetyev said.
(Itar-Tass Jan. 25, 2013)
Aerial view: Google Maps
> See also: Tails upgrading in Russia
Seversk enrichment plant waste disposal scheme puts drinking water at risk
As the Seversk plant (re-)enriches uranium also for Swiss utilities, Swiss TV investigated the environmental situation at this plant. In addition to environmental contamination (in particular by plutonium) resulting from former military production at the site, the waste disposal scheme of current operations caught the attention of the journalists: the liquid wastes from the plant are disposed of by underground injection at depths between 250 and 400 metres. According to Prof Leonid Richwanov of Tomsk University, this practice endangers the municipal water supply of Seversk, once the disposed liquids reach the groundwater used for potable water abstraction.
(Schweizer Fernsehen Sep. 14, 2011 - in German)
Since the mid-1990s, France sends 108 t of recycled uranium per year from the La Hague reprocessing plant to Seversk for (re-)enrichment. The material is sent to St Petersburg by ship and is further transported to Siberia by train. The depleted uranium generated by the (re-)enrichment process becomes the property of Tenex and is stored in containers in open yards near the enrichment plant.
(Libération Oct. 12, 2009)
The recycled uranium is exported for enrichment, since France's only enrichment plant - the gaseous diffusion plan of Tricastin - does not dispose of a special circuit for the enrichment of recycled uranium (which must be kept separate from natural uranium for its contents of unwanted isotopes).
The article mistakenly uses the term depleted uranium in several instances when referring to the recycled uranium, while in fact this still is slightly higher enriched than natural uranium. Further, there is no mention of the conversion process required prior to enrichment of the recycled uranium. Since there is no conversion plant in Western Europe capable of converting recycled uranium to UF6, this process presumably also takes place in Russia.
> See also: Greenpeace blocks depleted uranium export to Russia at Le Havre (France)
A detailed analysis of the material flux can be found in the report:
Avis sur la transparence de la gestion des matières et des déchets nucléaires produits aux différents stades du cycle du combustible ,
Haut Comité pour la Transparence et l'Information sur la Sécurité Nucléaire, 12 juillet 2010 (HCTISN - in French)
Aerial view: Google Maps
> See also: Tails upgrading in Russia
TVEL and Kazatomprom sign key documents on uranium enrichment joint project in Novouralsk
On Nov. 23, 2012, NAC Kazatomprom JSC and TVEL, Fuel Company of Rosatom, signed the key legal documents for the implementation of the Uranium Enrichment Center (UEC) Project.
On July 5, 2010 NAC Kazatomprom JSC and the State Corporation Rosatom had signed the Joint Statement on the implementation of the UEC Project under the alternative variant, which specifies the participation of the joint venture CJSC UEC in the charter capital of the existing Russian separation enterprise - OJSC "Ural Electrochemical Plant" (OJSC UECP).
The agreements signed now between NAC Kazatomprom JSC and OJSC TVEL regulate the procedure of execution of rights of CJSC UEC shareholders, the terms of transfer of shares and the management procedure of CJSC UEC.
The next stage will consist of the acquisition by CJSC UEC the shares of OJSC UECP (25% + 1 share), upon which the joint venture will have access to enrichment services in the annual volume up to 5 million SWU.
The parties are planning to start deliveries in the second half of 2013.
(Kazatomprom Nov. 23, 2012)
Russia, Kazakhstan to kick off uranium enrichment in Novouralsk in 2013
Russia and Kazakhstan are to commence production of enriched uranium in the Russian city of Novouralsk in 2013, Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom CEO Sergey Kiriyenko told reporters today, Trend news agency reported.
The countries are working on their commercial uranium enrichment center. The enrichment facility was expected to be located in the Siberian city of Angarsk, but Kazakhstan insisted on having it relocated to Novouralsk in the Sverdlovsk Region.
In 2007, Russia and Kazakhstan set up an international center to provide in accordance with nuclear weapons non-proliferation treaty uranium enrichment services to the countries that do not have their own nuclear technology.
(RBC June 8, 2012)
Aerial view: Google Maps
> See also: Zelenogorsk tails de-conversion plant
Licence renewal for Zelenogorsk enrichment plant
Russian nuclear regulators have approved a renewed operating licence for TVEL's JSC Electrochemical Plant (ECP) in Zelenogorsk.
The plant, one of four uranium enrichment plants operating in Russia, is now licensed until July 2023. The centrifuge enrichment plant is the focus of ROSATOM investment, aiming to increase its capacity from 8.7 to 12 million SWU per year by 2020.
(WNN July 30, 2013)
Capacity increase planned for Zelenogorsk enrichment plant
Uranium enrichment capacity at TVEL's JSC Electrochemical Plant (ECP) in Zelenogorsk in Russia's Krasnoyarsk Region will be boosted by at least 50%, according to Sergey Kiriyenko, director general of Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom.
Speaking to journalists during a visit to the plant on 3 June, Kiriyenko said that 5.5 billion roubles ($198 million) will be invested in the ECP plant in 2011. However, a long-term investment programme sees 45 billion to 65 billion roubles ($1.6 billion to $2.3 billion) being spent on modernizing and expanding the facility.
Kiriyenko was cited by Nuclear.Ru as saying that the plant's current enrichment capacity is some 8.7 million SWU (separative work units) per year. However, he added, "A minimum level we have to raise it to is 12 million SWU a year."
(WNN June 7, 2011)
Zelenogorsk MOX fuel plant to increase MOX fuel production for fast breeder reactor BN-800:
Russia's Zheleznogorsk Mining and Chemical Combine is ramping up production of mixed uranium and plutonium oxide fuel, or MOX, in a push toward creating a closed nuclear fuel cycle, with the country's BN-800 fast neutron reactor as its centerpiece.
Zheleznogorsk's general director, Pyotr Gavrilov, said in a side interview last week at the World Nuclear Association's annual symposium that production of MOX by the MCC is expected to jump from 20 fuel assemblies this year to 400 by 2017. The hike requires regulatory approval, which Gavrilov said he expects, to get.
(Bellona Sep. 14, 2015)
First batch of MOX fuel pellets manufactured at Zelenogorsk:
The first batch of the newest nuclear fuel pellets, which are to be used in atomic energetics of the future, have been produced on Rosatom's Mining and Chemical Facility in Zheleznogorsk , Krasnoyarsk Region, the facility stated in a Tuesday (Sep. 16) press-release.
"The first batch of MOX [mixed oxide] fuel tablets - 10 kilograms, was produced by industrial equipment at the Mining and Chemical Facility [Rosatom State Corporation's enterprise] in a specially created unit," the facility stated.
This is the first time in history that the mining and chemical facility has produced this type of fuel for fast-neutron reactors.
(RIA Novosti Sep. 16, 2014)
New Seversk plant to replace Angarsk conversion plant in second quarter of 2014
> View here
Angarsk conversion plant to be closed in 2016
On Nov. 23, 2012, the decision was made to close the Angarsk conversion plant in 2016. In future, the uranium conversion process is to take place at Seversk.
(Neues Deutschland Dec. 10, 2012)
Aerial view: Google Maps
> See also: Tails upgrading in Russia
Angarsk uranium enrichment plant re-enriching depleted uranium tails
After the sublimation plant [that changes the physical state of the UF6 feed from solid to gaseous] stopped operation, the enrichment plant was fed with depleted uranium (tails) left from former enrichment work. The tails are re-enriched to natural-uranium equivalent.
(AECC Nov. 18, 2015)
Today the plant operates in the so-called "mine operation", being engaged in processing of depleted uranium hexafluoride, of which enough reserves are available for decades of trouble-free operation of the enrichment plant. The secondary waste uranium hexafluoride is sent to the Zelenogorsk Electrochemical Plant (TVEL Fuel Company) for further processing. Thus, the plant is freeing its area of uranium-bearing materials.
(AECC Feb. 11, 2016)
Properties and fate of radioactive waste to be removed from storage site at Angarsk uranium enrichment plant unclear - hearing reveals; no explanation for presence of artificial nuclides given
The Russian uranium enrichment enterprise Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Combine (AECC) admitted at a public hearing in early December that radioactive waste containing uranium, transuranic elements, and uranium fission products are in storage at its "Site 310." But with no detailed plan about what to do next with the waste, the facility and the waste's future remains under debate.
The public hearing was convened in Angarsk, Irkutsk Region in Southwestern Siberia, on December 5 to discuss the Environmental Impact Assessment report for the proposed project of decommissioning the storage facilities of Site 310 – which will require relocating the waste contained inside them, with, so far, no specific address available for where send it.
The Environmental Impact Assessment report was thus sent back for further review.
The AECC's Derzhavin gave the following description of the waste:
"Site 310 holds process waste in the solid physical state. According to record-keeping data, the total mass of the waste is 1,910.97 tons. The total volume is 1,942.5 cubic meters. As regards the chemical composition, the waste is presented as a mix of fluorides, oxides, and carbonates of natural isotopes of uranium. Besides uranium isotopes, the radioactivity of the waste is due to the presence of transuranic and fission elements. The average uranium content in the process waste does not exceed 1 percent."
No clarity was provided to the question of which transuranium elements exactly are present in the waste. As transuranium elements are not found in natural uranium, it stands to reason that the AECC's operations involved reprocessed uranium, possibly of foreign origin. The presence of transuranic elements such as plutonium, neptunium, or americium, would make the waste that much more dangerous and difficult to handle.
Besides, the information presented at the hearing is at odds with the combine's environmental safety report, which states that "radioactive waste is generated as a result of processing raw material of natural origin, composed only of natural uranium radionuclides."
(Bellona Dec. 19, 2014)
> View full Bellona report
> Download: Environmental Impact Assessment report (4.7MB PDF - in Russian)
Activist demands deconversion of depleted uranium of European origin stored in Angarsk
Russian journalist and anti-nuclear activist Swetlana Slobina demands the deconversion of the depleted uranium hexafluoride of European origin currently stored outside the Angarsk enrichment plant. The deconversion to an oxide form reduces the chemical hazards of the material. Slobina calls upon the European suppliers of the material to assist with making the deconversion possible.
Last year, the Angarsk enrichment company had announced that the hazards resulting from deteriorating containers had been eleminated by transfering the material to new containers.
(Neues Deutschland Dec. 10, 2012)
Demonstration in Angarsk against uranium enrichment and storage of Urenco's depleted uranium
In the first anti-nuclear demonstration ever held in Angarsk, 150 people protested on July 3, 2011, against environmental and social problems connected to the Angarsk enrichment plant and the storage of Urenco's depleted uranium hexafluoride (tails) in the city. The demonstration was held on the same day as a demonstration at Gronau, Germany, where some of the tails originated.
> View report and photos (Baikal Movement Live Journal July 3, 2011, in Russian)
Angarsk enrichment plant wants its premises excised from city territory to avoid legal conflict over depleted uranium hexafluoride (tails) storage
The uranium enrichment enterprise Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Combine (AECC), founded in 1954, is located right on the outskirts of Angarsk, a city of 241,000 in Russia's Irkutsk Region in Southeast Siberia. In fact, AECC's production-related sites - including open-air yards housing containers with highly toxic radioactive waste - are within city limits.
That highly toxic waste is depleted uranium hexafluoride, also called uranium tails - a by-product generated when enriching uranium for the production of nuclear reactor fuel. This waste is stored on the premises of AECC - and so, on the territory of the city of Angarsk. Environmentalists say it is toxic enough that a leak occurring through loss of sealing in a container may result in deaths as far as 32 kilometres away.
According to the legislation currently in force, a radioactive materials storage facility must be part of a unified state registry of sites of storage or disposal of hazardous materials, including radioactive waste. But the law also prohibits operation of such sites within city limits - and that is exactly the case with AECC.
The solution suggested by the plant was to change virtually nothing, and spend nothing on any works associated with the storage facility - but simply move AECC's premises out of the city boundaries on paper. The plant would physically stay where it is - but would not be legally part of the city's territory.
A public hearing was held on December 28, 2009, where the issue of granting AECC the formal status of an enterprise operating out of city limits - without it changing its physical location - was discussed. No decisions have been taken yet on the proposal.
(Bellona Jan. 29, 2010)
Apart from the project to increase ACEP capacity, a Russo-Kazakhstani joint-venture enterprise for uranium enrichment is to be sited on the vacant premises of Angarsk chemical electrolysis plant (ACEP) separation facility. The JV's first phase of one million SWU is to brought into operation in 2011, and full capacity of five million SWU is to be attained in 2017.
(Itar Tass Nov. 19, 2009)
Angarsk International enrichment center signs contract with Ukraine; Armenia to participate, too:
Russian-supplied fuel for Ukraine's nuclear power plants is to use uranium enriched at the International Uranium Enrichment Centre (IUEC) in Siberia, in which Ukraine holds a 10% stake. Armenia has also agreed to take a similar stake in the enrichment facility.
The IUEC has signed a contract with the Ukraine's Nuclear Fuel Holding Company, SC Nuclear Fuel, for the supply of nuclear fuel assemblies. Under the contract, Ukraine will provide natural uranium for enrichment at the IUEC. Once enriched, this uranium will then be transferred to Russian fuel fabrication company TVEL, who will produce fuel assemblies for shipment to Ukraine. The first shipment of enriched uranium to Ukraine is expected before the end of 2012.
Enriched uranium from IUEC is also set to be delivered to a new fuel fabrication plant being set up in Ukraine with Russia's assistance. SC Nuclear Fuel and TVEL signed an agreement for the facility's construction in late 2010. The plant - with a capacity of 400 tonnes of uranium per year - is scheduled to begin fabrication of fuel rods and assemblies in 2015. It will also begin producing fuel powders, pellets and assemblies by 2020.
While Russia is to maintain majority ownership of the IUEC, up until now Kazakhstan and Ukraine have been the only other nation's to participate in the initiative, both taking a 10% shareholding each. However, last week, Armenia - which has one power reactor in operation - closed a deal under which it will take a 10% stake in the IUEC at a cost of 2.6 million rubles ($77,530).
With Armenia now taking a shareholding, Russia now holds a 70% stake in the IUEC.
(WNN June 1, 2012)
Attackers of Siberian anti-uranium activists given jail terms:
A court in the Irkutsk has sentenced 16 men over an assault on ecological protestors in eastern Siberia in 2007.
Four men were sentenced to between eight and nine years in jail, while the remaining 12 were given suspended sentences.
The group, described in some reports as skinheads, were armed with clubs and iron bars when they launched their attack on the activists' camp near a uranium enrichment plant in the city of Angarsk.
At least one activist died in the attack, which police said at the time was "not linked to political or nationalist motives."
(RIA Novosti Nov. 18, 2011)
Mongolia to join International Uranium Enrichment Center in Russia:
Mongolia would one of the founders of the International Uranium Enrichment Center, Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia's state-run nuclear corporation Rosatom, said Friday (Oct. 29).
"The Mongolian government has shown big interest in this regard, so the inter-governmental agreement will be signed on Nov. 1," said Kiriyenko, who is visiting Mongolia.
Currently, the project has three partners, Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Ulan Bator has been seeking access since May 2008.
Upon closing the deal, Mongolia will get guaranteed access to the uranium-enrichment facilities in Angarsk, a city in Russia's Irkutsk Oblast region.
(Xinhua Oct. 29, 2010)
Ukrainian state-owned company Nuclear Fuel has acquired 10 percent of the shares of the International Uranium Enrichment Center, the Itar-Tass news agency reported on Friday (Oct. 8).
Ukraine has thus become the third country in the project after Russia and Kazakhstan. Until today, Russia possessed 90 percent of the center's shares and Kazakhstan 10 percent. Russia's share fell to 80 percent as a result of the latest deal.
In addition, Russia's federal nuclear agency Rosatom plans to sell 50 percent of the center's stake package minus one share to the new participants in the project.
(Xinhua Oct. 8, 2010)
On 29 March 2010, IAEA and the Russian Federation's State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) signed an agreement to establish a reserve of low enriched uranium (LEU) for supply to the IAEA for its Member States to be located at the International Uranium Enrichment Centre in Angarsk, Russia.
The LEU reserve of 120 tonnes is valued at roughly USD $250 million.
The LEU reserve is being established to provide Member States protection against possible supply disruptions unrelated to technical or commercial considerations.
(IAEA Mar. 29, 2010)
New gas cetrifuges for the enrichment of uranium have been put into operation at the Angarsk chemical electrolysis plant (ACEP), an official at the management office of the enterprise told Itar-Tass on Thursday (Nov. 19).
Plans to increase the ACEP capacity by about 50 percent -- from 2.6 million to four million separative workunits (SWU)(a uranium processing measure) were announced by the management of the Rosatom State Corporation in view of the establishment of an International Uranium Enrichment Center (IUEC) on the basis of the ACEP.
(Itar Tass Nov. 19, 2009)
Russian and Japanese NGOs are opposing the possibility of extracting uranium from spent nuclear fuel reprocessed in the UK and France and re-enriching it at the planned Angarsk International Enrichment Center in Russia. The NGOs are concerned about the transportation hazards, the enormous amounts of radioactive waste (including depleted uranium) generated during the process, and about proliferation risks.
(Green Action (Japan), Citizens' Nuclear Information Center (Japan), Ecodefense (Russia), May 11, 2009)
Ukraine is to acquire a 10% share in the planned International uranium enrichment center in Angarsk. (RIA Novosti Dec. 1, 2008)
Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers has approved a draft agreement with the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan about the joint participation in the International uranium enrichment center in Angarsk, Irkutsk region, Russia.
(Interfax-Ukraine Nov. 26, 2008)
Marina Rikhvanova received the 2008 Goldman Environmental Prize for Asia for her fight against a pipeline project near Lake Baikal and the International enrichment center project near Angarsk.
> View Announcement Apr. 13, 2008 · Details on Marina Rikhvanova (Goldman Prize)
On August 1, 2007, twenty participants of the eighth all-Russian antinuclear camp occupied the unfinished office building for the Kirov area in the center of Irkutsk and declared it the "Baikal nuclear-free republic" (BBR). They demanded the stop of the plans for the enrichment center in Angarsk and the halt of all imports of radioactive wastes, including depleted uranium. After several hours, the police stopped the protest and interviewed the participants at the Irkutsk police station.
(Ecodefense, RIA Novosti, August 1, 2007)
Three environmental groups have started setting up a new camp in Siberia to protest against nuclear waste disposal at a local chemicals plant and across Russia. (RIA Novosti July 26, 2007)
On July 21, 2007, a participant of the ecological protest camp held against the International enrichment center project at Angarsk was killed and seven others were injured during an attack on the camp. A criminal investigation has been opened in connection with the attack. (AP July 21, 2007)
The uranium enrichment capacity of the Angarsk Electrolysis-Chemical Combine is to increase almost 300% by 2015 due to the implementation of a development program by the plant and a joint project with Kazakhstan, Federal Atomic Energy Agency Director Sergei Kirienko told journalists in Angarsk.
(Interfax June 22, 2007)
An ecological protest camp against the International enrichment center project at Angarsk is organized by Baikal Ecological Wave and Autonomous Action of Irkutsk.
The protest camp will start on July 15, 2007.
On May 10, 2007, Russia and Kazakhstan signed a deal on an international uranium enrichment center to be set up at Angarsk. The center will come on stream in 2013 and offer uranium enrichment services to countries interested in developing nuclear energy for civilian purposes.
(RIA Novosti May 10, 2007)
On Dec. 3, 2006, more than 200 participants held a demonstration at Irkutsk against the establishment of an international enrichment center at Angarsk. The event was organized by Baikal Movement, Baikal Environmental Wave , Ecodefense , and the Irkutsk chapter of the National Bolshevik Party (NBP).
The participants also protested the import of depleted uranium hexafluoride from Western Europe for re-enrichment at Angarsk.
(Baikal Environmental Wave, Dec. 3, 2006)
Another demonstration was held at Irkutsk on Dec. 16, 2006. Some 80 people, who gathered for the rally organized by the non- governmental organizations Baikal Ecological Wave and Baikal Movement, called for ensuring the environmental safety of the region in general and Lake Baikal in particular. (Interfax Dec. 16, 2006)
Russia is establishing a uranium enrichment center on the premises of the Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Combine. Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko said in an earlier statement that the center would begin operation in 2007.
Kazakhstan has made a decision to join Russia's initiative to set up an international nuclear-cycle center under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Russian territory.
(Kazatomprom Nov. 28, 2006)
IAEA establishes reserve of low enriched uranium
On 3 December 2010, the IAEA Board of Governors authorized the IAEA Director General to establish a reserve of low enriched uranium (LEU), or an IAEA LEU bank. Owned and managed by the IAEA, the IAEA LEU bank will help to assure a supply of LEU for power generation.
Should an IAEA Member State's LEU supply be disrupted, and the supply cannot be restored by the commercial market, State-to-State arrangements, or by any other such means, it may call upon the IAEA LEU bank to secure LEU supplies, without distorting the commercial market.
The IAEA LEU bank will keep enough LEU to meet the fuel fabrication needs for one full core of a 1000 MW(e) pressurized water reactor, or three annual reloads of fuel.
> View IAEA Factsheet: IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Reserve
First global nuclear fuel bank built in Angarsk (Russia)
The first global deposit of low-enriched uranium has been set up in Russia pursuant to an agreement between the Russian government and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It is part of the storage facility at the International Centre for Uranium Enrichment (ICUE) in Angarsk, in Russia's Siberia.
The centre will be open to IAEA member-states that are experiencing difficulties with energy supplies.
(Voice of Russia Dec. 2, 2010)
IAEA governors approve first nuclear fuel bank plan
International Atomic Energy Agency governors on Friday (Nov. 27) approved a Russian plan for a multilateral uranium fuel bank, seen as a way to stem the spread of nuclear arms.
Backed by the United States, the plan would allow uranium producer Russia to set up an IAEA-supervised bank to provide low-enriched uranium to countries for their civilian nuclear programmes if they can show a perfect non-proliferation record.
Under the plan, Russia would host a 120-tonne LEU reserve to supply the IAEA. Countries would be able to tap the bank if their fuel supply is cut off for political reasons.
(Reuters Nov. 27, 2009)
> View IAEA release Nov. 27, 2009
> Download IAEA Board of Governors resolution Nov. 27, 2009 (PDF)