The Megatons to Megawatts™ Program was a unique, commercially financed government-industry partnership in which bomb-grade uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear warheads was recycled into low enriched uranium used to produce fuel for American nuclear power plants. Centrus’ predecessor, the United States Enrichment Corporation, as executive agent for the U.S. government, and Joint Stock Company “TENEX” (TENEX), acting for the Russian government, implemented this 20-year, $8 billion program at no cost to taxpayers.
As of December 2013, the program has been completed: 500 metric tons of bomb-grade highly enriched uranium have been recycled into more than 14,000 metric tons of low enriched uranium – permanently eliminating enough bomb-grade material for 20,000 nuclear warheads.
Through a multi-step process in Russia, the bomb-grade uranium material was converted into a different chemical form and then diluted into low enriched uranium suitable for use in fabricating commercial nuclear power reactor fuel. Centrus then purchased the low enriched uranium to market to its utility customers.
The Megatons to Megawatts program significantly enhanced world security by steadily reducing stockpiles of nuclear bomb-grade materials, while creating a clean, valuable resource—uranium for use in nuclear fuel.
Virtually the entire U.S. nuclear reactor fleet participated in this program by using fuel fabricated with low enriched uranium from the Megatons to Megawatts program.
For two decades, up to 10 percent of the electricity produced in the United States was generated by fuel fabricated using low enriched uranium from the Megatons to Megawatts program.
The conversion and dilution of highly enriched uranium took place in Russia. The resulting low enriched uranium was then shipped to the company’s facilities in Paducah, Kentucky.
The first shipment of warhead-derived low enriched uranium from Russia arrived in the United States in June 1995.
Under terms of the contract, as amended in 1996, United States Enrichment Corporation (i) purchased the enrichment portion of the blended-down material and sold it to its electric utility customers for use in fabricating fuel for their commercial nuclear power plants, and (ii) transferred to TENEX a quantity of natural uranium equal to the natural uranium component of the low enriched uranium. In 1999, Russia entered into a sales agreement with three Western companies for that natural uranium.
The total purchase price of the enrichment portion of the material was more than $8 billion. Including the natural uranium delivered by Centrus to TENEX, the program’s total value was more than $12 billion.