Roses from guns

US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham has launched a nuclear nonproliferation effort with the Republic of Kazakhstan and private US industry.

Under the project, a former nuclear weapons plant in Kazahkstan will develop its capability to separatelow-enriched uranium from uranium concentrates with assistance from two private US companies andBrookhaven National Laboratory.

The uranium will then be made available as a power source to civilian power reactors throughout the world. The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National NuclearSecurity Administration (NNSA) brought the parties together and will continue to assist with the project.

The endeavor will immediately create 50 new civilian jobs for former nuclear weapons scientists in Kazakhstan and will create hundreds of additional jobs for former nuclear weapons workers in the coming years.

Kazakhstan, which inherited the world’s fourth-largest nuclear weapons arsenal after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, decided to terminate its nuclear program and joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear state.

Kazakhstan has since dismantled and removed all nuclear weapons from its territory and has destroyed the associated infrastructure.

Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas (GNF) of Wilmington, NC, and RWE Nukem of Danbury, CN, will assist the Ulba plant in Oskemen, Kazakhstan, to use its advanced solvent extraction technology to recover low-enriched uranium from uranium concentrates.

The DOE/NNSA has committed $1.2 million in Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) funds over three years for joint work between Ulba and Brookhaven National Laboratory to design and install the technology for commercial use.

The recovered uranium will be available to GNF and other commercial nuclear fuel manufacturers for use in Boiling Water Reactors. The US industry partners have already matched the NNSA’s contribution.