Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Materials & Fuels Complex

The Materials & Fuels Complex (MFC), which is located about 38 miles west of Idaho Falls in Bingham County in the southeastern corner of INL, is engaged in the research and development of nuclear fuels and advanced technologies in nuclear power systems. The MFC is operated by the Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC (BEA) for DOE. Formerly the Argonne National Laboratory-West (ANL-W), the MFC was established in 1949. For the next half-century, its primary mission was to take nuclear reactor power stations through the steps from design to demonstration. The design of every major reactor type can be traced back to ANL-W.

ANL-W served as the country's primary testing center for demonstration and proof-of-concept of nuclear energy technologies. ANL-W's major program, featuring a method developed on-site, was electrometallurgical treatment, which prepares unstable SNF for permanent geologic disposal while also reducing the volume. It also supported R&D of liquid metal fast feeder reactor technology. Also the onsite Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility evaporated and solidified radioactive liquid waste. It was operated by the University of Chicago, which also operated Argonne National Laboratory-East in Illinois. On February 1, 2005 Argonne National Laboratory-West was integrated with the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) and became the Idaho National Laboratory.

MFC research supports the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, the DOE-NE's Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI), and the Radioisotope Power Systems. Studies are conducted on new reactor fuels and pyroprocessing, a method of separating waste products using electricity. Also, since 1994, the INL has provide instruction on nuclear material protection, control and accountability and emergency management training. Beginning in 1997, the training has been conducted at the Material Protection, Control and Accountability (MPC&A) Interactive Evaluation and Training Center located within the MFC.

The MFC's main facilities include:

  • Fuel Manufacturing Facility (FMF)
  • Analytical Laboratory (AL)
  • Electron Microscopy Laboratory (EML)

Past Reactors
  • Experimental Breeder Reactor-II
  • The Zero Power Physics Reactor
  • The Transient Reactor Test Facility
  • The Sodium Process Facility (SPF) was used to convert the primary and secondary coolant from EBR-II, a liquid-metal fast-breeder reactor (LMFBR), to a chemically stable compound that could then be disposed in a landfill.
  • Radioactive Scrap and Waste Facility (RSWF), built in 1965, is a below-grade silo storage facility. It is used for interim storage of SNF and mixed and radioactive waste, mostly from EBR-II.

Construction is planned for a new facility for preparing remote-handled waste for shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Also, pending a feasibility assessment, buildings to support manufacturing and assembling components for use in space applications will be constructed.

After an investigation of the area was completed in October 1997, five sites were identified by the DOE, EPA, and IDEQ for cleanup. All SNF at MFC has been moved to dry storage, awaiting treatment and processing so that it can be shipped out of the state by 2035, as required by the 1995 Settlement Agreement. The removal of 1000 cubic yards of contaminated soils from the MFC's Industrial Waste Pond, which will also be drained, is planned as part of the cleanup of Waste Area Group (WAG) 9. The soil will be sent to INL CERCLA Disposal Facility landfill at INTEC.

EBR-II operates under a Hazardous Waste Management Act (HWMA) and Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) partial permit that went into effect December 10, 2000. Another partial permit issued on August 16, 2004 covers the Contaminated Equipment Storage Building (CESB), HFEF, RSWF, Sodium Components Maintenance Shop (SCMS), SPF, Sodium Storage Building (SSB), and TREAT.

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