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 2016. More than 100 jobs will be created during the construction phase and a further 80 technical jobs will be available once the site is operational.
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.