FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEWS MEDIA CONTACTS:
Energy Department to Fund Design of Facility to
Disassemble and Convert Nuclear Weapons Plutonium Pits for
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has begun contract negotiations with Raytheon Engineers & Constructor, Inc. of Englewood, Colorado for the preliminary and detailed design of a Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility (PDCF). DOE hopes to complete negotiations with the architect-engineering firm and award the contract by the end of 1998. The total value of the contract is expected to be in excess of 40 million dollars over a period of two and one half years.
The Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility is a key component of the Administration's effort to dispose of surplus weapons plutonium. In January 1997 the Energy Department announced a strategy that allows for immobilization of surplus plutonium in glass or ceramic forms as well as the use of some surplus plutonium as mixed oxide (MOX) fuel in existing reactors.
The PDCF will provide material for both the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication
Immobilization Facility. The facility will disassemble excess nuclear
weapons pits, remove the
weapons-usable plutonium metal, and convert it into a form suitable for
disposal. It will also
accept excess weapons usable plutonium metal from other sources for
conversion. The final form
of converted material will contain no weapons design or other classified
information in order to
permit the resulting materials to be placed under international controls.
The Department expects to select a final site preference between the two sites in conjunction with the completion of the Final Environmenal Impact Statement. Construction of the PDCF is anticipated to begin in 2001 and be completed by mid-2004. The facility is planned to be operated for ten years and then be decontaminated and decommissioned.-
- DOE -