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United States, Canada announce completion of spent nuclear fuel shipping campaign at ICONS

VIENNA – The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) announced the completion of a multi-year campaign to move spent highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Canada to the United States at the International Conference on Nuclear Security (ICONS).

This campaign to move HEU from two Canadian research reactors at Chalk River Laboratories in Chalk River, Ontario, to the Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina, began in 2015 and finished in 2019 – 12 months ahead of schedule.

The campaign totaled over 66,000 miles of safe, secure transportation and resulted in the return of more than 200 kilograms of HEU. It is the largest removal of spent nuclear fuel to the United States ever completed under the Nuclear Material Removal Program.

“Our collaboration on this project has demonstrated, once again, that when the United States and Canada work together, we can make the world a safer place,” said Lisa E. Gordon Hagerty, DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator, following a bilateral meeting at ICONS with Alastair MacDonald, Vice President Decommissioning and Waste Management, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.  “I want to express my sincere thanks to our Canadian partners not only for the role you played in this removal, but also for your continuing efforts in promoting a strong nonproliferation regime.

“This is another great example of AECL and the NNSA working together to advance our shared non-proliferation objectives and advance global nuclear security,” said MacDonald. “By partnering with the NNSA, we are effectively addressing our liabilities while achieving our joint commitments to HEU repatriation.”

The spent HEU fuel was returned to the United States under the U.S.-Origin Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel Acceptance Program, which was established in 1996 with the mission to repatriate U.S.-origin spent nuclear fuel and other weapons-grade nuclear material from civilian sites worldwide.

The material was used in the National Research Universal and National Research Experimental reactors at Chalk River.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions were key partners and played a pivotal role in the success of the campaign.

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