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Following a "rigorous procurement process", US engineering firm Bechtel has been selected by uranium enrichment services provider Urenco to support the expansion of the Tails Management Facility (TMF) at its site in Capenhurst, UK.

The exterior of the new Tails Management Facility (Image: Urenco)

The TMF in Capenhurst - the only one of its kind in the UK – stores low concentration uranium 'tails' - the by-product of uranium enrichment - for further use, or conversion to a chemically stable form for disposal.

Bechtel will provide front end engineering and design (FEED) services for the expansion project. This will enable Urenco to convert more tails of depleted uranium hexafluoride for safe storage and produce hydrogen fluoride for use in refrigerants, pharmaceuticals and more. Cavendish Nuclear - a UK subsidiary of Babcock International group - will support Bechtel as its subconsultant.

"We're delighted to partner with Bechtel as we look forward to expanding our TMF in the UK and positioning ourselves more widely to increase capacity in the nuclear fuel supply chain," said Urenco Chief Technical Officer Chris Chater.

Urenco noted that there is currently no shortage of enriched fuel in the industry. However, it said the company is "planning for the future as more governments put stable policy frameworks in place that are in favour of nuclear energy - and we grow our customer base".

Michelle De Franca, Bechtel's managing director of infrastructure in the UK and Ireland added: "Urenco shares our commitment to achieving a sustainable net-zero carbon future. We look forward to supporting them as they increase production of clean nuclear fuel that's essential for the energy transition."

Urenco's board approved the construction of the TMF facility at Capenhurst, comprising a tails deconversion facility and a number of associated storage, maintenance and residue processing facilities, in 2009. In 2010, Urenco received regulatory and planning approval to build the facility. By March 2014, the company was anticipating operations to begin by the end of 2015. This date was subsequently revised to 2017 and then to 2018, after construction delays. A ceremony was held in June 2019 to mark the official opening of the TMF. It is operated by Urenco subsidiary Urenco ChemPlants.

Urenco operates plants in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA using its own centrifuge technology to enrich uranium for the use as a nuclear fuel for civil power generation.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Friday, 03 November 2023
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