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MATERIAL RELATING TO POSSIBLE CHEMICAL REPROCESSING, HANFORD, WASH.
1963. Gen. A. R. LUEDECKE, General Manager, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Washington, D.C.
DEAR GENERAL LUEDECKE: Attached is a copy of a letter dated May 21, 1963, from Glenn C. Lee, secretary of the Tri-City Nuclear Industrial Council, Inc., to Chairman Pastore requesting that we include information on the General Electric Co. proposal for the use of the Hanford facilities for chemical reprocessing in the record of the May 14, 1963, Nuclear Fuel Services proposal hearing.
We would appreciate receiving information on the GE proposal. Please include information on what action was taken by the Commission on this proposal, Sincerely yours,
JOHN T. CONWAY, Executive Director. Enclosed.
TRI-CITY NUCLEAR INDUSTRIAL COUNCIL, INC.,
Pasoo, Wash., May 21, 1963. Senator JOHN O. PASTORE, Chairman, Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR PASTORE: On May 14, 1963, you and your committee had a hearing on the chemical reprocessing plant proposal by the Nuclear Fuels Services, Inc.
We have read this testimony and we respectfully submit to you and your committee for your consideration, that the record is not correct and is not complete in view of the fact that nowhere in the testimony is it brought out that there was another proposal from the General Electric Co. a number of months ago. Senator Henry M. Jackson and Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg are both informed in this respect, and we assumed that the entire Commission was also aware of this situation.
Witnesses for the Atomic Energy Commission and for the Nuclear Fuels Seryices testified that no other Government facility was available for this type of work, and that no other offers had been received to do this work, and the General Electric offer and the Hanford facility was completely left out of this testimony.
Undoubtedly in the next few years to come a similar facility will be considered for the west coast. In view of the efforts of the Tri-City Nuclear Industrial Council to diversify the Hanford project, in light of the Slaton report, we are anxious to be on record now with you and your committee, and with the Commission, that the Hanford project has facilities and is a suitable site for a west coast reprocessing plant.
We will be very grateful to you if you will make inquiry into the facts as I bave outlined them above, from executives of your joint staff and from the Commission, and if the record can be corrected and completed in this respect it may be helpful in the future to our desire to have Hanford considered for such a west coast site.
Your consideration and understanding of our objectives will be much appreciated. Thank you kindly. Sincerely yours,
GLENN C. LEE, Secretary.
ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION,
Washington, D.C., June 13, 1963. Mr. JOHN T. CONWAY, Eæeoutive Director, Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, Congress of the United States.
enclosed a letter from Glenn c. Lee, secretary of the Tri-City Nuclear Industrial Council, Inc., and which requested information on the General Electric Co.'s proposal concerning use of a Hanford facility for chemical processing and action taken on the proposal.
The General Electric Co.'s plan was submitted to the Atomic Energy Commission in November of 1961. It proposed that the Commission
1. Lease part of the U-plant complex at Hanford to a joint company which would utilize it for reprocessing irradiated fuel from power reactors;
2. Withdrawal from the reprocessing of those kinds of fuels ;
3. Provide a load of irradiated fuels to the joint company for reprocessing; and
4. Assume responsibility for waste storage. After its evaluation of the plan, the Commission, by letter dated March 12, 1962, advised the General Electric Co. that, in recognition of the problem areas to be encountered by the proposal and particularly because one of the Commission's main objectives is the construction by industry of a completely private plant at an early date, further consideration of the General Electric Co.'s plan at that time did not appear warranted. As problem areas, the letter noted that
1. The plan as outlined would involve continued participation by the Commission, and
2. As pointed out by General Electric Co., the plan represented only an interim step toward the goal of a privately owned processing plant. You will recall also that, by that time, the Davison Chemical Co. had outlined to the Commission its plans for constructing a private chemical reprocessing facility. The Commission will consider any other proposals for an equivalent. baseload to the extent that such proposals meet the objectives of the Commission, as outlined in our testimony at the hearings.
As you will recall my letter of November 27, 1961, forwarded a copy of General Electric's plan for a chemical processing service and my letter of February 28, 1962, advised of the Commission's action regarding this plan. I trust the above provides you with the information you desire. Please let me know if we may be of further assistance. Sincerely yours,
A. R. LUEDECKE, General Manager.
ARTICLES ON FUE REPROCESSING PLANTS
[From Nucleonice, September 1962)
THE CASE FOR SMALL REPROCESSING PLANTS
Several small reprocessing plants would handle all the spent fuel gen-
(By Cyril M. Slansky and John A. McBride, Atomic Energy Division, Phillips
Petroleum Co., Idaho Falls, Idaho)
During the next 5 to 10 years U.S. reactors will produce less spent fuel than is needed to keep a single large reprocessing plant busy. Because workload exerts a major effect on reprocessing cost and because we believe it important to encourage competition in the industry, we believe several small plants should be built rather than a single large one.
The small plant offers a practical route to private industrial participation in the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and also gives a route of modest:
bapital million for a large plant) could recover all the low-enrichment fuels in the United States for the next 5 to 10 years; our studies indicate the reprocessing cost would be competitive with the AEC reference plant if the investment were amortized over a time characteristic of the electric power industry. Also a small-scale plant designed for highly enriched uranium-aluminum alloy might be economical with the test-reactor loads expected by 1966. These plants, IO, cated strategically in widely separated areas (fig. 1), would furnish a range in reprocessing technology, private industrial participation, competition, experience prior to large-scale operation, and encouragement to package fuel-cycle service, all of which are needed in the nuclear power industry for the next 5 to 10 years,
For years the U.S. AEC has encouraged private industry to enter the reprocessing field as it has engaged in uranium-ore recovery, fuel fabrication, and nuclear-power generation. Fuel reprocessing, an essential and important step in the nuclear fuel cycle, is now performed in Government facilities. Industry has not entered reprocessing because the fuel load has not been large enough to be economical (that is, competitive with AEC reprocessing charges) (1).
FIGURE 2.-Three small-scale plants of type we propose could furnish some
reprocessing capacity as one AEC reference plant for nearly same total investment.
FIGURE 3.-Unit reprocessing cost of small-scale plant operating at 0.3 tonne U/day is same as that of larger plant or AEC reference plant at 1 tonne U/day.
The conventional design for a large reprocessing plant would involve investment of $20-$40-million; such a plant would have a minimum capacity of 1 tonne U/day. But it could process two to three times as much spent low-enrichment fuel as will come from power reactors in the U.S. for the next 5-10 yr.
To seek a solution to this problem we have studied the concept of a small spentfuel reprocessing plant originally intended for remote locations or as a package plant for a single reactor (2). Recent studies show that the small plant has an inherent capacity for low-enrichment power fuels up to 0.3 tonne U/day, which would be the amount of spent fuel from nuclear powerplants of 750 Mw(e) total capacity. The unit cost of processing at this rate in a small-scale plant would be competitive with AEC reference-plant charges if we use the long payout times characteristic of the electric generating industry. Small-plant workload
Analyses shows that for the next 5 yr, ~100 tonnes U/yr will be discharged from U.S. private and government power reactors using slightly enriched UO2 fuel clad in stainless-steel or zircaloy tubes; one small-scale plant of the type we propose could reprocess 74 tonnes U/yr at 272 kg/day. In the same period U.S. reactors using highly enriched uranium-aluminum or uranium-zirconium fuels will discharge 1,000–2,000 kg U25 annually; a small-scale plant designed to handle these furls could process 1,900 U1235/yr operating to 7 kg ( 235/day.
SMALL PLANT ECONOMIES
The combination of low operating cost and surprisingly low investment needed should make small-scale reprocessing plants attractive as means whereby private industry can start reprocessing nuclear fuels, particularly at a time when small scattered loads, different compositions, and enrichment are the main fuel supply.
Small radiochemical processing plants offer design features that make these small plants differ radically from large-scale plants. (See "Design Features of a Small Reprocessing Plant.") These features result in savings in investment costs and operating costs that partially offset the low throughput of the small plant. Because a small plant operates on a load from only a few reactors, turnaround time can be kept to only a negligible fraction of the year. Process equipment can be concentrated in a single shielded cell, which significantly reduces costs for such things as shielding, ventilation and air cleaners, pipe galleries, corridors and remote disconnects. The compact design also cuts down the building cost, maintenance manpower and cost of cell demontami. pation. Direct-maintenance methods can be combined with remote methods and unitized construction to aid in keeping the plant on stream a major fraction of the time. The small size of process vessels and equipment allows criticality control by geometry, which leads to safer operation. Small need for services allows the small plant to be serviced from related operations without large extra investments.
Figure 2 shows how capital costs for different reprocessing-plant proposals. vary with instantaneous processing rate. The effect of design concept on capital cost is striking. Three small-scale plants of the type we propose could furnish the same capacity as one AEC reference plant, at nearly the same total investment; the small plants could use three different technologies and locations. Operation and maintenance of the small, compact plant should be relatively simple and result in lower manpower costs. For different sizes of plants certain cost items (such as waste storage, chemicals and product losses) would be nearly the same per kilogram of uranium.
Tables 1 and 2 estimate unit reprocessing costs of our small-plant concept for 68–272 kg U/day, the Davison Chemical Co. proposal to process powerreactor fuel at 1 tonne U/day (3), the Eurochemic reprocessing plant (4), the du Pont study for 1-10-tonnes-U/day plants (5), the Allis-Chalmers plant for ThO2-U02 fuel for Italy (6) and the AEC reference plant (7). Capital costs were taken directly from the source reports. To put all designs on a common cost basis we chose a fixed annual amortization of 16.9% of capital cost as being characteristic of the electric-generating industry (2); the breakdown of this charge is nearly the same as estimated for private-utility companies (8); we took operating costs from the references except where the costs are enclosed in parentheses. We obtained the cost in dollars per kilogram of uranium from the total annual cost and the annual throughput, the latter being the instantaneous rate multiplied by the number of operating days per year.