Uranium & Fuel

LEU Bank / First LEU Delivery Expected Within Several Weeks, Says IAEA

By David Dalton
9 September 2019

The reserve could be used to make fuel for light-water reactors
First LEU Delivery Expected Within Several Weeks, Says IAEA
IAEA acting director-general Cornel Feruță. Photo courtesy IAEA.
The first delivery of low-enriched uranium to a storage facility at the international low-enriched uranium fuel bank is expected to take place within several weeks, paving the way for the facility to become established, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s acting director-general Cornel Feruță said today.

Mr Feruță told a meeting of the agency’s the board of governors in Vienna that the aim is to receive the second delivery by the end of the year.

The IAEA decided in December 2010 to establish the LEU bank as an assurance of supply mechanism of last resort for member states which experience a supply disruption due to exceptional circumstances and which are unable to secure nuclear power fuel from the commercial market or state-to-state arrangements.

Owned by the IAEA and operated by Kazakhstan, the bank will be a physical reserve of up to 90 tonnes of LEU suitable to make fuel for a typical light-water reactor.

In August 2017 the former IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano and Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev inaugurated the bank’s storage facility at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in the eastern city of Ust-Kamenogorsk.

The bank is fully funded by voluntary contributions from IAEA member states and other donors totalling $150m, sufficient to cover estimated costs for 20 years.

According to the IAEA, the bank is part of global efforts to create an assured supply of nuclear fuel to countries. Other assurance of supply mechanisms established with IAEA approval include a guaranteed physical reserve of LEU maintained by Russia at the International Uranium Enrichment Centre in Angarsk, and a UK assurance of supply guaranty for supplies of LEU enrichment services.

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