Arroyito Heavy Water Production Plant
Argentina autonomously developed the production of heavy water. In its construction of an industrial facility for heavy water production, Argentina opted for the use of foreign technology, which was subject to IAEA safeguards, prior to the entry into force of the full scope safeguards agreement.
ENSI operates the Industrial Heavy Water Plant -owned by the National Atomic Energy Commission- and sells reactor-degree virgin heavy water, a strategic product for nuclear power plants fueled with natural uranium. It was founded on December 21, 1989 in order to execute a unique project in Latin America: the Industrial Heavy Water Plant (PIAP), at Arroyito, Province of Neuquén, Argentina. In its early years, efforts were made for the completion, startup, operation and maintenance of this industrial complex, supplying its production to the local nuclear power plants. Lately, ENSI has expanded its commercial scope and has successfully penetrated the Asian, European and North American markets.
The Industrial Heavy Water Plant (PIAP), located at Arroyito (Province of Neuquén) is classified as a high-technology plant among conventional chemical industries. Its production capacity amounts to 200 tons per year and is split into two production lines of 100 tons each. The process selected and applied by the PIAP for obtaining heavy water is based on a method known as "Monothermal Ammonia-Hydrogen Isotopic Exchange". The electro mechanic equipment plus the structures weigh more than 27,000
On December 23, 1997, Honeywell Inc., applied for a license to export a Honeywell Total Plant Solution System to Argentina. The system will provide process control in the production of heavy water at the Arroyito Heavy Water Production Plant. In response to NRC's request for Executive Branch views, the Department of State, in a letter dated December 17, 1998, recommended approval of the proposed export and advised that it is the judgment of the Executive Branch that the proposed export will not be inimical to the common defense and security of the United States and is consistent with the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978. The Executive Branch also advised that Argentina, as a party to the NPT, has committed itself to maintain IAEA safeguards on all of its peaceful nuclear activities and has pledged not to produce or otherwise acquire any nuclear explosive devise, therefore satisfying criteria (1) and (2) of Section 109b of the Atomic Energy Act, as amended, for exports of nuclear components, substances or items. The remaining criterion, agreement not to retransfer any U.S.-supplied component, substance or item without prior U.S. consent, has been satisfied by the receipt of written assurances dated December 9, 1998, from the Government of Argentina.
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