URENCO readily acknowledges its responsibility for the safe stewardship of uranium, its by-products and the facilities used to store depleted uranium.
During the uranium enrichment process, depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6), or 'tails', are made as a by-product. The by-product contains 30 to 50% of the natural uranium 235 concentration and therefore has the potential for re-enrichment in the future. We currently store UF6 in internationally approved transport cylinders, pending future re-enrichment or de-conversion to a form suitable for long-term storage.
In 2010 we received regulatory and planning approval for a Tails Management Facility (TMF) located at our UK site. URENCO ChemPlants, a wholly-owned subsidiary of URENCO Ltd, are responsible for the build and operation of the TMF. On completion, the facility will process URENCO’s European inventory of depleted uranium by-product reflecting the Group’s commitment to reducing its impact on the environment.
The facility is expected to commence operations in 2017.
90% of the site preparation works were carried out in 2010. The TMF will comprise a UF6 by-product de-conversion plant and a number of storage, maintenance and residue processing facilities to support our long-term strategy for the management of by-product ending future reuse.
Until the TMF project is completed, we make full provision for the safe de-conversion of material and long-term custody of our by-product in dedicated well managed stores.