Highly enriched unranium removed from Switzerland

Crews load up 2.2 kilograms of highly enriched uranium held by the University of Basel to be stored at the Savannah River Site.
Crews load up 2.2 kilograms of highly enriched uranium held by the University of Basel to be stored at the Savannah River Site. | Courtesy of the NNSA
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Swiss government have successfully transferred 2.2 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from the University of Basel, eliminating all highly enriched uranium in Switzerland, they announced Wednesday.

The university houses a research reactor that has been in operation since 1961 and was using highly enriched uranium material that originated in the U.S. The university has decided that this reactor will be decommissioned and, as a result, 13 irradiated fuel elements were transferred to the U.S.

The transfer operations were carried out as a collaborative effort between the NNSA's Office of Defense and Nuclear Nonproliferation, the Paul Sherrer Institute and the government of Switzerland.

“We are delighted to share this important milestone with the Swiss government and the Paul Sherrer Institute, and want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the important partnership that made this possible,” NNSA Deputy Administrator Anne Harrington said. “Our collaboration advances global efforts to secure, consolidate, and minimize the use of highly enriched uranium so that it does not fall into the hands of terrorists.”

This material is being stored at the Savannah River Site and will undergo disposition and blending low enrichment to allow the Tennessee Valley Authority to use it for electricity generation.

With this transfer, Switzerland becomes the 27th country to eliminate its highly enriched uranium stock. 

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