Alexander, ORNL and heavy water

alexandersummitAn amendment to the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill for FY 2017 was filed earlier this week by U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., that would prevent the government from using taxpayer money to purchase additional quantities of heavy water from Iran. The amendment has not been adopted at this point, but the discussions about the Obama administration’s dealings with Iran may stall the progress of the appropriations bill. However, it will not, according to multiple accounts, have an impact on the deal that was signed last week for the purchase of 32 tons of heavy water, which will be stored at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Part of that acquired inventory will be used to enhance neutron production at the Spallation Neutron Source in Oak Ridge, and the rest will reportedly be sold to qualified buyers for use in research and industrial applications.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who chairs the Senate Appropriations energy and water subcommittee is a primary architect of the 2017 energy and water bill.

Asked for the senator’s view on the heavy water purchase and potential use in Oak Ridge, Alexander press secretary Louie Brogdon said, “Oak Ridge National Laboratory and American companies need heavy water to make fiber optics, microprocessors and support important research in material and biological sciences. Sen. Cotton has raised questions about a serious issue, and Sen. Alexander is working with him and studying it carefully.”

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.