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Challenges Dealing With Depleted Uranium in Germany: Reuse or Disposal

[+] Author Affiliations
Kai D. Möller

Germany, Federal Office for Radiation Protection

Paper No. ICEM2007-7294, pp. 85-88; 4 pages
  • The 11th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management
  • 11th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, Parts A and B
  • Bruges, Belgium, September 2–6, 2007
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4339-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3818-8
  • Copyright © 2007 by ASME


During enrichment large amounts of depleted Uranium are produced. In Germany every year 2.800 tons of depleted uranium are generated. In Germany depleted uranium is not classified as radioactive waste but a resource for further enrichment. Therefore since 1996 depleted Uranium is sent to ROSATOM in Russia. However it still has to be dealt with the second generation of depleted Uranium. To evaluate the alternative actions in case a solution has to be found in Germany, several studies have been initiated by the Federal Ministry of the Environment. The work that has been carried out evaluated various possibilities to deal with depleted uranium. The international studies on this field and the situation in Germany have been analyzed. In case no further enrichment is planned the depleted uranium has to be stored. In the enrichment process UF6 is generated. It is an international consensus that for storage it should be converted to U3 O8 . The necessary technique is well established. If the depleted Uranium would have to be characterized as radioactive waste, a final disposal would become necessary. For the planned Konrad repository — a repository for non heat generating radioactive waste — the amount of Uranium is limited by the licensing authority. The existing license wouldn’t allow the final disposal of large amounts of depleted Uranium in the Konrad repository. The potential effect on the safety case has not been roughly analyzed. As a result it may be necessary to think about alternatives. Several possibilities for the use of depleted uranium in the industry have been identified. Studies indicate that the properties of Uranium would make it useful in some industrial fields. Nevertheless many practical and legal questions are open. One further option may be the use as shielding e.g. in casks for transport or disposal. Possible techniques for using depleted Uranium as shielding are the use of the metallic Uranium as well as the inclusion in concrete. Another possibility could be the use of depleted uranium for the blending of High enriched Uranium (HEU) or with Plutonium to MOX-elements.

Copyright © 2007 by ASME
Topics: Uranium



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