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Assessment of the Risks and Uncertainties in Eliminating Nuclear Material Stockpiles

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Title: Assessment of the Risks and Uncertainties in Eliminating Nuclear Material Stockpiles


1
Assessment of the Risks and Uncertainties in
Eliminating Nuclear Material Stockpiles
  • F. STEINHÄUSLER
  • Div. of Physics and Biophysics
  • University of Salzburg
  • A 5020 Salzburg
  • Austria
  • Email friedrich.steinhaeusler_at_sbg.ac.at

2
Topics
  1. Source terms and policy issues
  2. The need to act
  3. Technical options
  4. Security aspects
  5. Conclusions recommendations

3
SOURCE TERMS AND POLICY ISSUES
4
SOURCES OF MILITARY HEU and Pu
  1. Operational weapons
  2. Weapon-grade material outside operational
    weapons
  3. Fuel- and thermal-grade Pu in store

5
MILITARY INVENTORY HEU/Pu(central estimate (t)
in 2003, SIPRI)
  • US 635/47.5
  • Russia 470/100
  • UK15/3.2
  • France 24/5
  • China 20/4
  • India little/0.31
  • Pakistan 0.69/0.005
  • Israel ?/0.51
  • Total 1 165/160
  • Production rate up to 250 kg/GW(th), a

6
MILITARY DECLARED SURPLUS HEU/Pu(central
estimate (t) in 2003, SIPRI)
  • US 174/52.5
  • Russia 500/34
  • UK0/4.4
  • France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel 0/0
  • Total 674/91

7
UNDER IAEA SAFEGUARDS HEU/Pu(central estimate
(t) in 2003, SIPRI)
  • France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel0/0
  • Total 10/2.1
  • US 10/2
  • Russia 0/0
  • UK0/0.1

8
DISPOSED HEU/Pu(central estimate (t) in 2003,
SIPRI)
  • China, France, India, Pakistan,
  • Israel, UK, US 0/0
  • Total 96/0
  • Russia 96/0

9
CIVILIAN Pu INVENTORY
  • In spent nuclear fuel
  • Separated in store
  • In fast-reactor fuel cycle
  • In thermal MOX fuel cycle

10
Civilian Pu Production
  • Typical annual Pu production rate in nuclear
    power reactors 180 kg /GW(e)
  • Civilian facilities in UK and France can
    reprocess fuel elements of all nuclear power
    plants in EU and Japan
  • 6-10 kg Pu/t of spent fuel

11
CIVILIAN OWNERSHIPHEU/Pu(central estimate (t)
in 2003, SIPRI)
  • Pakistan /-
  • Israel /-
  • Others /59.4
  • Total
  • 16-22/195
  • US 5-10/4-5
  • Russia /30.3
  • UK ca. 4/59.8
  • France ca. 5/40.3
  • China /0
  • India /0.7

12
Past, Present and Future Pu Stockpiles (central
estimates)
13
Weapon-usability ofReactor Pu
  • - Higher rate of spontaneous fission
  • - Increased heat production
  • - Higher probability for pre-detonation
  • explosive yield 1 to several kt
  • E. Kankeleit, C. Kuppers, U. Imkeller, Report
    on the weapon-usability of reactor plutonium,
    IANUS-Arbeitsbericht 1/1989
  • Compacting speed of 2-4 km/s

14
Theft of separated Pu, whether weapons-grade or
reactor-grade, is a major security risk
  • US National Academy of Sciences,
  • Management and Disposition of Excess Plutonium,
  • Vol. 12, National Academy Press,
  • Washington, D.C.,
  • 1994 and 1995

15
2. THE NEED TO ACT
16
Inadequate protection
  • States can no longer claim to be able to protect
    100 military nuclear material stockpiles
  • US Force-on-Force exercises (gt50 success rate)
  • FSU several hundred illicit trafficking
    incidents since 1991 (at least 27 cases involving
    weapons-usable fissile material)

17
Vulnerability of US DOE Pu Storage Sites
  • Interim Pu storage (26 t) for 10 to 20 a
  • Pu stored in 166 facilities at 35 sites 299
    vulnerabilities identified at 13 sites
  • Inadequate facility conditions
  • Incomplete safety analysis
  • Degradation of Pu packaging, etc.
  • Related to safety, environment and health (Nov.
    1994)
  • Excluding Pantex Plant, Texas

18
Imperfect state security networks
  • States cannot rely exclusively on less than
    perfect state security networks to protect
    military and civilian Pu stockpiles
  • Corruption of security forces, customs and
    politicians (www.transparency.org)
  • Politically/religiously/financially motivated
    insider threat (extremism, blackmail)
  • Criminal nuclear supply networks
    (Pakistan-Malaysia-Libya)

19
Personnel performance and misuse of new
equipment at Russian nuclear facilities
  • 9 sites investigated three of them had inter
    alia the following deficiencies
  • Gate to central facility left open and unattended
  • Nuclear material portal monitor not operational
  • No access control at nuclear material storage
    site
  • Security-related activities, February 2001

20
Personnel performance and misuse of new
equipment at Russian nuclear facilities
  • No response when metal detector was set off upon
    entry
  • Wide spread drug and alcohol related problems
  • Security-related activities, February 2001

21
Potential for political instability
  • Internal political stability of nuclear weapon
    states is not guaranteed (Pakistan?)
  • Act of despair deployment of nuclear weapon as
    the last resort (Israel?)

22
Strong Man Policy
  • Failed international crisis management, using the
    Strong Man-Global Policeman Policy, e.g.,
    identification of an external enemy, who will be
    threatened or contained with a nuclear weapon
    (DOD Nuclear Posture Review)
  • US Strategic Nuclear Forces (2003)
  • 14 Trident Submarines, 450 Minuteman III ICBM,
  • 66 B-52H bombers, 20 B-2 Stealth bombers

23
3. TECHNICAL OPTIONS
24
Disposition Programme Short-term Objectives
  • Make it harder for individuals to steal the
    material
  • Increase the difficulty for rogue nations and
    terrorists to reuse the material

25
Disposition Programme Long-term Objectives
  • Prevent contamination of the environment and
    uncontrolled radiation exposure of man
  • Signal to others that there is a path to the
    irreversible reduction of materials stockpiled
  • Progress towards nuclear arms reduction

26
Disposition Principle(e.g., for surplus
weapon-grade Pu)
  • Create a substantial barrier to the recovery of
    the nuclear material

27
Weapon-grade Pu
  • Pu 238 0.01
  • Pu 239 93.80
  • Pu 240 5.80
  • Pu 241 0.13
  • Pu 242 0.02
  • Am 241 0.22
  • Age 20 years
  • in percent (by weight)

28
4 Theoretical Disposition Options, only 2
Realistic Choices
  • 1. Pu dilution in oceans (environmental risk?)
  • 2. Pu transport into space (risk of major
    accident?)
  • 3. Immobilization of Pu
  • 4. Reactor/accelerator methods using Pu

29
17 Evaluation criteria
  • 1. Operational time scale
  • 2. Material throughput
  • 3. Physical security
  • 4. Self-protection
  • 5. Long-term stability
  • 6. Criticality issues
  • 7. Safeguards Proliferation resistance
  • 8. Suitability for final depository
  • 9. State of development

30
17 Evaluation criteria
  • 10.Costs for start up
  • 11. Costs for routine operation
  • 12. Long-term neutron stability
  • 13. Long-term chemical durability
  • 14. Environmental impact
  • 15. Local acceptance
  • 16. National acceptance
  • 17. International acceptance

31
Example for Open Issues Proliferation Resistance
  • Are all the technical methods deployed
    proliferation resistant?
  • Does the method allow the pursuit of
    weapon-relevant technology options?
  • Is it possible to covertly divert nuclear
    material?

32
Example for Open Issues Operational time scale
  • How long does the Pu have to remain in an interim
    storage area?
  • When will the industrial-scale version of the
    disposition method be available?
  • What is the time period required to totally
    eliminate Pu?

33
Example for Open Issues Costs
  • Costs for R D?
  • Investment costs for constructing the facilities
    in US/Russia/EU?
  • Operational costs of facility?
  • Costs for final deposition of resulting waste
    products?

34
IMMOBILIZATION OF Pu
35
Immobilization technologies
  • Direct glass vitrification
  • Direct ceramic vitrification
  • Can-in-canister vitrification
  • Geologic disposal
  • Electro-metallurgical treatment

36
Direct glass vitrificationPrinciple
  • Pu and n-absorbing material, mixed with molten
    glass and high level radwaste
  • Pu concentration about 5 to 8 (by weight)
  • Cooled into large logs (weight 2 t height 3 m)
  • Large base of experience for industrial scale
    vitrification (B, F, UK since 1986 or longer)
  • e.g., gadolinium lanthanide borosilicate

37
Direct glass vitrificationOpen technical issues
  • Optimal glass formulation for not immobilized Pu?
  • Optimal level of solubility of Pu in glass?
  • Prevention of accumulation of critical mass in
    processing equipment?
  • Solubility of n absorber potentially higher than
    that of Pu, i.e., criticality possible after 10³
    years?

38
Direct glass vitrificationOpen technical issues
  • Radiation creates helium and oxygen bubbles in
    glass, increasing the volume impact of
    additional cracks?
  • There is no natural analog of glass containing
    alpha-emitters long-term material behavior
    expose to internal alpha radiation exposure?

39
Direct glass vitrificationOpen security issues
  • Is subsequent Pu recovery from glass feasible?
  • Ground glass, dissolve in nitric acid, remove Pu
    (PUREX process)
  • Bench-top solvent removal process extracts about
    25 of Pu analog from a glass host
  • Covert operation requires little
    additional equipment, no obvious new
    activity noticeable

40
Direct ceramic vitrificationPrinciple
  • Pu and n-absorber mixed in ceramic material with
    high level radwaste
  • Pu concentraion lt10 (by weight)
  • Radioactive ceramic material placed inside steel
    canister
  • Limited large-scale industrial experience

41
Direct ceramic vitrificationOpen technical and
security issues
  • Remaining technical and security issues
  • Similar to glass vitrification

42
Can-in-canister vitrificationPrinciple
  • Pu and n-absorbing material mixed with molten
    glass or ceramic material in steel cans (2.5 kg
    of Pu/can)
  • 20 stainless steel cans loaded onto a rack within
    a larger steel canister(3 m long)
  • Filled with molten, glassified high level
    radwaste from reprocessing
  • Cooled (weight 2 t)

43
Can-in-canister vitrificationOpen technical and
security issues
  • Technical issues similar to glass vitrification
  • Security issues
  • - 1 spent fuel assembly from BWR/PWR
  • 1.5/4.2 kg Pu
  • - 1 canister (20 cans) 12.5 kg
    Pu
  • canister contains 400 more Pu than spent
    fuel assembly
  • Equivalent to 3 nuclear weapon pits

44
Geologic DisposalPrinciple
  • Deep borehole (several km)
  • Enclose Pu or Pu mixed with high level radwaste
    within physical barrier (e.g., glass, ceramics)
  • Transport enclosed pure Pu or mixture to borehole
  • Close borehole to (a) minimize direct access (b)
    allow defined access at a later stage

45
Geologic DisposalOpen technical and security
issues
  • Pu leaching models Pu solubility is low (10E-8
    g/cm³) and glass surface area increases by a
    factor of 5 due to fracturing
  • Fracturing due to quenching 10 times higher?
  • Does crack growth continue throughout lifetime of
    glass(water, tectonic stress)?
  • Intentional Pu Mining desirable at a later
    stage?
  • B. Grambow (Materials Research Soc. Symp. Proc.
    333, 167-180 (1994)

46
Electrometallurgical treatmentPrinciple
  • Pu mixed with monolithic mineral form
  • Result glass-bonded zeolite (GBZ)

47
Electrometallurgical treatmentOpen Technical
and Security Issues
  • Less technically mature than other disposition
    methods
  • Several key steps not demonstrated yet at
    industrial scale
  • Political concerns due to its similarity to
    nuclear fuel reprocessing

48
REACTOR/ACCELERATOR TECHNOLOGIES USING Pu
49
TransmutationPrinciple
  • Origin in the 1970s
  • Concept using high n fluxes, long-lived
    isotopes, particularly transuranics, can be
    transmuted
  • Product stable or relatively short-lived
    radioactive substances

50
TransmutationOpen technical and security issues
  • High energy linear accelerator needed (p(GeV)
  • High n flux required (gt10E16 n/cm²,s) over Pb or
    Bi spallation target
  • High RD risk
  • accelerator technology
  • chemical separation methods

51
TransmutationOpen technical and security issues
  • High energy consumption
  • Low throughput
  • High cost
  • Radioactive waste unavoidable
  • Dual use option (Pu disposition Tritium
    production)
  • Lack of industrial scale demonstration

52
Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX )Principle
  • Large industrial facility needed for multi-stage
    MOX fuel production
  • metal Pu converted into Pu oxide powder
  • grinding mixing with U
  • sieving/sintering/cutting/polishing into pellets
  • pellets filled into fuel elements

53
Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX )Principle
  • Mixture of natural U with Pu-Oxide, irradiated as
    fuel in commercial reactors
  • MOX suitable reactors in Europe F(20), D(12),
    CH(3), B(2)

54
Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX ) Open technical and
security issues
  • MOX fuel in fast breeder 15-35 Pu
  • MOX fuel in LWR 3-5 Pu
  • 1 GW(e) 25-30 t MOX fuel/a
  • 1 Reactor only 1.2 to 1.5 t of Pu/a
  • to meet schedule
  • full MOX core is needed

55
Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX)Open technical and
security issues
  • Full core MOX operation
  • difficult reactor safety controls
  • safe and secure management of MOX fuel over
    period of decades?

56
Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX)Open technical and
security issues
  • Once disposition campaign completed still 15 to
    25 a remaining lifetime of facility left MOX as
    the precursor for a Pu fuel cycle?
  • Use of military Pu in commercial reactors
    undermining nonproliferation interests?
  • Use of MOX facility for fuel production of
    military reactors?

57
Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX)Open technical and
security issues
  • Utilities expect higher operating costs
  • Higher in-core n production rates
  • Higher heat output
  • Difficulties of using and storing MOX
  • What incentives fees to be paid to
    utilities?
  • Compared to ordinary reactor fuel

58
4. SECURITY ASPECTS
59
Diversion due to measurement uncertainties?
  • MUF at nuclear material processing site
  • Plant holdup (tanks, pipes, drains, etc.)
  • Wide variations of material matrix
  • Statistical variations
  • Accidental spills
  • Recording, reporting, rounding errors
  • Honey pot syndrome

60
Uncertainties/Fraud
  • Nuclear material storage site
  • Statistical uncertainty of measurement during
    non-destructive testing of container content
  • Covert faking of intactcontainer seals
  • Checking of container presence only (without
    verifying content)

61
US Cumulative Pu Inventory Difference (1944-1994)
in kg
  • Rocky Fl. 1 192
  • Los Alamos 48
  • Savannah R. 232
  • Other sites 17
  • - increase from book inventory
  • Hanford 1 266
  • Argonne West -3.4
  • Lawrence L. 5.5
  • Idaho NE -5.6
  • decrease from book inventory

Total Difference 2 800 kg DOE Openness
Conference, Sept. 30, 1994
62
Security Risks during Transport
  • Transport moving target is generally at higher
    security risk than stationary target
  • Rail/road transport 4 highly damaging attack
    modes possible
  • Sea transport continuous navy escort required
  • NATO Expert Group Terrorist attacks on nuclear
    power plants and nuclear material transports,
    Rep. SST.CLG.978964(July 2004)

63
Countering Transport Security Risks
  • Specially designed Super-containers necessary for
    transport of nuclear warheads
  • Kevlar-based blankets needed to protect
    containers with dismantled nuclear weapon
    components
  • Heavy-duty manipulators required for remote
    handling of nuclear warheads

64
Spent Fuel Standard (SFS) adequate security?
  • Radiation barrier decays with t½ 30 a minimal
    deterrent after 300 a (Pu mining)
  • Cans embedded in radioactive glass or ceramic
    technically feasible to remove cans from external
    radiation barrier (re-start of reprocessing)
  • Suicide terrorist not incapacitated (max.
    ?-radiation dose rate 6 Sv/20 min)

65
5. CONCLUSIONS RECOMMENDATIONS
66
Comparative assessment of Pu elimination methods
(1)
  • MOX fuel, vitrification and geologic depository
    can only delay reprocessing
  • MOX will require about 250 a of reactor
    operation/100 t Pu
  • MOX require the operation of many installations
    ( extensive transport of Pu-fuel and radwaste)

67
Comparative assessment of Pu elimination methods
(2)
  • Pu storage in deep boreholes requires minimum
    operations, easy to supervise (e.g., CCTV
    satellite)
  • Vitrification simultaneous elimination of high
    level radwaste and Pu

68
Comparative assessment of Pu elimination methods
(3)
  • Irreversible Pu destruction only by transmutation
  • Supervision of spallation units depends on design
    (e.g., operation as dual use facility feasible)
  • Transmutation requires assurance of proliferation
    resistance
  • Transmutation requires the operation of many
    installations ( extensive transport)

69
Comparative assessment of Pu elimination methods
(4)
  • RD requirements
  • minimum Pu storage in deep boreholes
  • maximum transmutation
  • Cost estimates (for elimination of 400 t Pu)
  • vitrification/borehole EURO 2-7 billion
  • transmutation EURO 70 billion
  • for comparison total cost US nuclear weapon
    development programme EURO 3 000 billion

70
Comparative assessment of Pu elimination methods
(5)
  • Can-in-canister shortest start-up and completion
    time of all Pu disposition methods 7a, resp.
    18 a
  • MOX implementation 25 30 a
  • except deep borehole storage
  • assumption 5 t Pu/a
  • assuming European MOX facilities as interim
    solution

71
Comparative assessment of Pu elimination methods
(6)
  • SYNROC is superior to glass vitrification
  • chemical stability
  • n stability
  • resistance to Pu recovery

72
Recommendations
  • 1. There is no single, perfect method of
    eliminating nuclear material stockpiles each
    method has its pros and cons
  • 2. Overall immobilization is superior to
    reactor/accelerator approach
  • Nonproliferation
  • Timing
  • Cost
  • Security

73
Recommendations
  • 3. Establish an international register of
    inventories and production capabilities for all
    relevant nuclear materials
  • 4. Demand detailed material balances
  • 5. End discrimination between military and
    civilian Pu stockpiles

74
Recommendations
  • 6. Strengthen the existing international
    monitoring system
  • Kr 85 monitoring
  • Tagging techniques
  • Tamper-proof seals

75
Excess weapon grade Pu poses a clear and present
danger to national and international security
  • US National Academy of Sciences,
  • Management and Disposition of Excess Plutonium,
  • Vol. 12, National Academy Press, Washington,
    D.C.,
  • 1994 and 1995

76
The fate of the Russian 130 to 160 t of Pu is not
only of interest with regard to disarmament, but
represents a global interest in survival, which
requires from us solutions, or at least a
minimization of risks.
  • Joschka FISCHER,
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs,
  • Germany,
  • Sept. 1, 2000

77
Famous last words...
  • Benefits of Pu disposition programmes should not
    be exaggerated
  • US and Russia can reconstitute Cold War sized
    arsenals with remaining, non-surplus Pu stocks
  • Disposition is only an important first step
    toward a more comprehensive campaign

78
There is no "small" nuclear bomb...
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Governmental leadership is needed in bringing
together the non-proliferation community,
industrial participants and the public on a
common agenda to rid the world of surplus weapons
material as soon as possible.
  • Nuclear Energy Institute,
  • March 11, 1998
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