Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Introduction | News | Information | Resources | Affiliate | Action | Links | Contact

Uranium Hexafluoride, Recycling and US Workers' Health

UF6 is the chemical symbol for uranium hexafluoride. Scientists sometimes refer to it as DUF6.

To produce enriched uranium, one must first convert it into UF6. It is a part of the enrichment process. Gaseous diffusion, the process used to extract enriched uranium from UF6, produces four tonnes of depleted uranium for every tonne of enriched uranium. Therefore DUF6 constitutes a huge proportion of the United States' nuclear waste: France stores its waste in a different form. (I have been unable to find out in what form the UK stores its DU) It is unstable and difficult and expensive to store, posing a threat to workers and the surrounding environment. The DU used in munitions in Iraq and the Gulf War came from this source.

In the United States the government have come up with a proposal to process DUF6 back into uranium metal and use it in industry - as counterweights in lifts and fork lift trucks for example. In July 1988, President Clinton signed the 'Uranium Recycling Bill'. It provides $400 million to the UF6 storage plants in Ohio and Kentucky to treat and recycle UF6. Construction is due to start in January 2000. Industry has already used DU for ballast in aeroplane wings and in ships. It is possible that these products could be arriving in the UK without any clear labelling.

The use of DU in ordinary industrial machinery could have more far reaching effects than the use of DU in munitions. However, the problems associated with the use of DU in munitions remain. IEER in the United States have some practicable proposals for storage of UF6. They suggest ways to make it safe in terms of proliferation: for example, processing it in such a way that it would be difficult to enrich for use in power stations or nuclear weapons. They also suggest ways to store it safely.
Watch this space for further developments.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


From CADU News 3: Winter 1999/2000

Read more articles about The Nuclear Industry and the Production of Depleted Uranium

Introduction | News | Information | Resources | Affiliate | Action | Links | Contact

Page last updated: January 28, 2003