Nothing but bad news
The question this article raises is why the US ever got dependent on Russia for enriched uranium. The answer probably lies in environmental opposition to uranium mining and processing that pollutes groundwater, streams and rivers including the Colorado River, which serves 40 million residents of the Western United States. The text of the Nuclear Fuel Security Act of 2023 has not yet been released. -- blj
From the flak shack of Idaho Republican Senator James E. Risch
Risch: American-made uranium can enhance energy independence and national security
February 16, 2023
Introduces legislation to increase domestic production and reduce dependence on Russian enriched uranium
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), with Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.,) introduced legislation to develop the domestic nuclear fuel supply chain, decrease U.S. dependence on Russia, and combat Russia’s dominance in enriched uranium production.
“Enriched uranium is key to unlocking the boundless potential for clean and reliable nuclear energy. Just as importantly, it’s a pillar of American national security. Unfortunately, the U.S. lacks capacity to fully produce enriched uranium, and it has resulted in an unsafe reliance on Russia—a bad actor who could cut off uranium exports to us at any time,” said Senator Risch. “I am proud to work with Senators Manchin and Barrasso on legislation to increase uranium production in the U.S., reduce dependence on Russia, and diminish Russian domination of the global nuclear fuel supply chain.”
The senators introduced the Nuclear Fuel Security Act of 2023, which will direct the DOE Secretary to establish a nuclear fuel program with the purpose of onshoring nuclear fuel production to ensure a disruption in Russian uranium supply would not impact the development of advanced reactors or the operation of the United States’ light-water reactor fleet.
During today’s Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Senator Risch voiced concerns regarding Russia’s dominance in the global nuclear fuel supply.
Risch asked U.S. Department of Energy, Office of International Affairs, Assistant Secretary Andrew E. Light, “What would you do tomorrow if you got into the office and someone offered you a pink slip that said, ‘The Russians called, and they’re done. And, they’re not giving us any more [enriched uranium] supply?”
Assistant Secretary Light affirmed the need for the legislation Risch, Barrasso, and Manchin introduced in order to reduce the potential harms of a situation such as the one the Senator outlined. Light said, “ . . . If we have that pink slip, sir, I hope we have your legislation in hand to already start the process to get out of that dependency.”
Background on the nuclear fuel supply:
The world collectively relies on Russia for the nuclear fuel supply chain with 38% of conversion and 46% of enrichment globally coming from Russia.
The US receives about 20% of its enriched uranium from Russia, which is not currently sanctioned.
The U.S. cannot currently fulfill the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, with no operational conversion and only one active enrichment facility.
In turn, the U.S. cannot currently produce the necessary enriched uranium to supply the current nuclear fleet, research needs, and national defense.
Enriched uranium is needed both for the current fleet of nuclear reactor as well as all advanced reactor development taking place, including at the Idaho National Lab (INL).
The INL is the flagship laboratory for nuclear energy development among DOE’s National Laboratory system.
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