The National Nuclear Security Administration this month announced that Switzerland is now free of all separated plutonium, partly because of a shipment of about 20 kilograms that arrived at Savannah River Site in February.
The plutonium was initially used in research and development of fuel elements for nuclear reactors and had been stored for several decades at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen, Switzerland.
NNSA press secretary Francie Israeli this week said the operation was conducted by the Office of Material Management and Minimization, “which works cooperatively with countries to remove or dispose of high-risk nuclear materials at civilian facilities across the globe that could be used by terrorists to make an improvised nuclear device.”
The material arrived at SRS by way of Joint Base Charleston, S.C.
Israeli said the NNSA determined that the shipment does not require the preparation of an environmental impact statement because it isn’t considered a major activity. An environmental assessment prepared in December, however, evaluated the impacts associated with transporting material from foreign countries to the U.S. for disposal.
“Through this cooperative effort, Switzerland has eliminated all the separated plutonium from its country, which supports international goals of consolidating and minimizing inventories of nuclear material,” said Anne Harrington, NNSA’s deputy administrator. “These efforts are an example of the important nonproliferation mission of NNSA and an accomplishment for risk reduction that will be highlighted at the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., later this month.”