Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998
From: Lynn Sims <>

Subject: Pu 238 production for space missions

NOTICE OF INTENT: To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Proposed Production of Plutonium-238 for Use in Advanced Radioisotope Power Systems for Future Space Missions (DOE/EIS-299).

DOE intends to prepare an EIS to assess the potential environmental impacts of establishing a domestic capability to produce Pu-238 including the storage of neptunium-237 (Np-237), fabrication of Np-237 targets, irradiation of targets to produce Pu-238, and the processing of these targets to isolate the Pu-238 and recycle the Np-237. The Pu-238 would be used in advanced radioisotope power systems for potential future space missions. Without a long-term supply of Pu-238, DOE would not be able to provide the radioisotope power systems that may be required for these potential future space missions, and the Department would not fulfill the intended space nuclear power role assigned to the Department in the National Space Policy statement issued on 19 September 1996.

This assigned role of maintaining the space nuclear capability is also consistent with the Department's charter under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended. Alternatives to be analyzed for the fabrication of Np-237 targets and for processing the irradiated targets include the use of the Radiochemical Engineering Development Center in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the Fuels and Materials Examination Facility at the Hanford Site near Richland, Washington.

Alternative facilities for the irradiation of targets for Pu-238 production include the Advanced Test Reactor near Idaho Falls, Idaho, the Fast Flux Test Facility at the Hanford Site, Washington, and the High Flux Isotope Reactor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The public scoping period begins with the publication of this Notice of Intent and will continue until 4 November 1998. Public scoping meetings will be announced as soon as determined but at least 15 days prior to the date of the meetings.


Colette Brown,
Office of Nuclear Energy,
Science and Technology (NE-50),
U.S. Department of Energy,
19901 Germantown Road,
Germantown, Maryland 20874,
tele. 301.903.6924, fax: 301.903.1510,

Requests to speak at scoping hearings, scoping comments, and requests for documents should be submitted to the above contact.

[For detailed information, see 63 FR 53398, 5 October 1998.]