The first shipment of highly enriched uranium (HEU) liquid used nuclear fuel from the IIN-3M research reactor in Tashkent for reprocessing in Russia has been completed.

Moscow-based Sosny, which develops technologies for the preparation of used nuclear fuel for reprocessing or storage, said today that the shipment had been completed on 24 September.

The IIN-3M installation is the Foton solution research reactor that contains 4.2 kg of U-235 in a solution of 90% HEU. This reactor is expected to be decommissioned, although no specific plan has been developed so far.

Removal of liquid used nuclear fuel from Uzbekistan was initiated by the US Department of Energy within the framework of the Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return Program, which was launched in 2001.

Following checks by experts from the Scientific and Engineering Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety, regulator Rostechnadzor issued a licence for the acceptance of the equipment and the reprocessing of liquid used nuclear fuel at the FSUE Mayak Production Association in the Chelyabinsk region, Sosny said.

Russia and Uzbekistan signed an intergovernmental agreement in January 2014, whereby Russia will import some used research reactor fuel for reprocessing. The output from the reprocessing - including any plutonium or uranium - will not be sent back to Uzbekistan. Instead, Russia will use, store or dispose of materials that emerge from the process.

Sosny said that about 27 litres of liquid used nuclear fuel was transferred to a TUK-145/C – a type C package containing a Skoda VPVR/M cask inserted in an energy-absorbing container - and delivered to Russia by an An-124 cargo plane and then transported to Mayak. All operations related to the certification and arrangement of shipment, were performed under the control of the Department for Nuclear and Radiation Safety and the Organization of Licensing and Approval Activities, part of ROSATOM.

The IIN-3M reactor was brought to first criticality in December 1975. It was shut down in June 2013.

Source: World Nuclear News