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Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) operated the first and only commercial spent fuel reprocessing facility located in West Valley. This was the first and only private plant in the U.S. to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. NFS began receiving spent nuclear fuel at West Valley in 1965, and operated the facility from 1966 to 1972, chemically separating and recovering plutonium and uranium from the fuel.

The West Valley plant recovered 1926 kilograms of plutonium and shipped approximately 1530 kilograms to the AEC. These 1530 kg of separated plutonium originated from both fuel and reactors that the AEC owned as well as power reactor fuel that the AEC purchased from commercial reactors. Of the AEC-origin plutonium (635 kg), 534 kg came from the N-Reactor at the Hanford site, 95 kg came from a plant in Erwin, Tennessee and 6 kg came from the Bonus Reactor, an AEC owned reactor in Puerto Rico. The rest (895 kg) came from Yankee Atomic Electric Company (436 kg), Commonwealth Edison Company (285), Consumers Power Company (63 kg), Northern States Power Company (7 kg), and Consolidated Edison Company (104 kg). All of the AEC owned and purchased plutonium was shipped as plutonium nitrate solution the from West Valley plant to Hanford. These shipments were made by commercial trucks. The operations transformed West Valley area into a radioactive waste site with 600,000 gallons of high level waste being stored on site.

Although it took years of delays, legal disputes and billions of federal dollars, the high level waste was stabilized by 2002 under the West Valley Demonstration Project. The waste remains onsite and cleanup of reprocessing actives, low level waste removal and decontamination will take 40 years to complete and cost over $5 billion dollars.

References


https://www.osti.gov/opennet/document/purecov/nfsrepo.html#ZZ4

http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_risk/nuclear_proliferation_and_terrorism/a-brief-history-of.html

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