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EM is responsible for managing a large inventory of nuclear materials at sites and facilities around the U.S. The inventory includes approximately 2500 metric tons of SNF and additional radionuclides in various forms which are stored in various types of containers. The inventory of both SNF and nuclear materials for which EM is responsible will continue to grow for decades to come. This large and diverse inventory of nuclear materials presents a broad range of technical challenges, often requiring development of unique technical solutions.

The table below shows some technical challenges that EM is addressing through its nuclear materials technology development program. 


Spent Nuclear Fuel Technical Risks and Uncertainties

Risk/UncertaintyPotential Technology Solution(s)
Indefinite long-term storage of SNFDevelop understanding of fuel degradation mechanisms and assess cask/fuel measurement and inspection technologies; Evaluate long-term dry storage
Dispose of sodium bearing SNF that cannot be sent directly to a repositoryDevelop alternate technologies that will deactivate sodium and facilitate disposition
Aging, expensive processing facilitiesInvestigate alternative processing technologies