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Uranium, converted from Russian nuclear warheads, comes through Baltimore’s port

Final shipment in 20-year "Megatons to Megawatts" program

russia us uranium

Containers of uranium in St. Petersburg, Russia on Nov. 14, prior to shipment to Baltimore.

Photo by: seattletimes.com

The end of a 20-year program to convert highly enriched uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons was marked quietly in Baltimore this week, as the final shipment of low enriched uranium (LEU) arrived at the port.

The last four cylinders arrived at the Ruckert Terminals, across from Fort McHenry, were offloaded and subsequently sent to Paducah, Kentucky, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

From the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, the material “will be sent to U.S. nuclear fuel fabrication facilities, converted into fuel rods, and ultimately delivered to commercial customers for use in U.S. nuclear power reactors,” a DOE news release said.

“The shipment was the last of the LEU converted from more than 500 metric tons of weapons-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) downblended from roughly 20,000 dismantled Russian nuclear warheads and shipped to the United States to fuel U.S. nuclear reactors,” according to the DOE.

The original 1993 agreement between Russia and the U.S., signed shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, was meant to give Russia the financial incentive to dismantle thousands of nuclear weapons, keeping weapons-grade uranium out of the hands of terrorists, according to the Associated Press

It was also meant, according to the AP’s Vitniva Sladava, “to make sure Russia’s nuclear workers got paid at a time the country was nearly bankrupt.”

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  • KnowNothingParty

    “The original 1993 agreement between Russia and the U.S., signed shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, was meant to give Russia the financial incentive to dismantle thousands of nuclear weapons, keeping weapons-grade uranium out of the hands of terrorists, according to the Associated Press”.
    What a prime example of why “financial incentive” is important. This country could fix many ills by following this example.

  • ushanellore

    And along the way numerous folks will be exposed to this uranium–the ones who dismantle the warheads, the ones who downgrade the highly enriched uranium, the ones who load the containers, the ones who unload them, the ones who convert the low grade uranium to fuel rods and the ones who load the rods on to trucks and planes for delivery to commercial customers.

    The powers that be will insist that the exposure causes no harm, that precautions galore have been taken to minimize exposure, that the exposure is only a fraction of the radiation that bombards men from space, that from below and from above a hotbed of radiation stews us everyday–why worry?

    Whistle as you dismantle, load, unload and deliver the carcinogen. It ain’t even a carcinogen. It is innocuous compared to the red hot stresses you face everyday from your spouse, your boss, your children and your pet.

  • Nacho Belvedere

    Were these being trucked from Rukert to the multi-modal terminal in Locust Point? I saw a truck carrying casks that looked exactly like this going down Key Highway. Not the first instance I’ve seen of nuclear materials being driven around on Baltimore-DC highways either…

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