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Cablegate: Technical Discussions Regarding the Removal Of

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHC #1729 3291900
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251854Z NOV 09
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA IMMEDIATE 0000
INFO RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO IMMEDIATE 0000
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS STATE 121729

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KNNP MNUC ASEC KCRM PARM PINR PREL CA XS
SUBJECT: TECHNICAL DISCUSSIONS REGARDING THE REMOVAL OF
HELIUM-3 STORED AT ONTARIO POWER GENERATION

REF: A. A. TORONTO 000186
B. B. STATE 082558
C. C. TORONTO 000173
D. D. STATE 078415
E. E. TORONTO 000163 AND REFERENCES THEREIN

1. (U) This is an action request for Embassy Ottawa. Please
see paragraph 3.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has
expressed interest in working with DOE on helium-3 (He-3)
supply, stipulating that the United States would remove and
retain ownership of all residual tritium containers stored at
OPG. Technical discussions held in Toronto on 19 October
2009 between a U.S. team and OPG representatives provided
each side with the information necessary to understand the
effort required to remove the residual tritium storage units
from the OPG facility in Darlington, Ontario, Canada, to the
DOE Savannah River Site. Major issues uncovered include: (1)
lack of certified overpacks for shipment; (2) cross border
transport; (3) need for the Canadian team to develop clear
guidance on tritium monitoring requirements and (4) possible
compensation for residual tritium. With this information,
both sides will be better able to develop a workplan and
associated costs designed to determine the feasibility of
this effort. The team also toured the Darlington Tritium
Recovery Facility. A separate detailed technical report is
being drafted by the Savannah River team. End Summary.

3. (SBU) ACTION REQUEST: Post is requested to monitor OPG's
interaction with the GOC on tritium exporting requirements as
referenced in paragraph 11.

4. (SBU) BACKGROUND: Helium-3 (He-3) is a tritium decay
product used for neutron detection, cryogenics, medical, oil
and gas exploration, and other applications. After the
terrorist attacks of September 11, the U.S. government began
to significantly increase its nuclear detection capabilities
both at home and around the world. This resulted in a
corresponding increase in demand for He-3 that far exceeds
available U.S. supply. As a result, the USG has embarked on
a three-pronged approach to address the issue: (1) reduce
demand through reprioritizing programmatic requirements, (2)
foster the introduction of alternative technologies not
dependent upon He-3, and (3) increase available supply. This
third area includes discussions with entities that have
available supplies of He-3, such as countries that use heavy
water reactors that produce tritium. Ontario Power
Generation (OPG) maintains the largest fleet of such reactors
in the world and has been storing tritium since the late
1980's. It is anticipated t
hat they may have as much as 60,000 liters of He-3 that could
be readily harvested.


5. (SBU) DARLINGTON TRITIUM REMOVAL FACILITY: On October 19,
2009, representatives from DOE/NNSA, DHS, and ConGen Toronto
met with OPG at the OPG Darlington, Ontario, Canada, reactor
and tritium separation and storage facility. Darlington is
the location of the Darlington Tritium Removal Facility
(DTRF), where all OPG heavy water plants send their heavy
water for detritiation. DTRF is the largest civilian tritium
removal facility in the world, capable of processing 10
million grams of heavy water per day. The storage facility
for the separated tritium is also located on the Darlington
plant site. Separation of tritium at DTRF has been on-going
since late 1989. U.S. representatives included: Joe Glaser,
NA-4; Nanette Founds, NA-122.3; Orvis Taylor, NA-261; Greg
Slovik, DHS/DNDO; Paul Cloessner and Jim Klein, Savannah
River Site, and Lee MacTaggart, ConGen Toronto. OPG
representatives included: Mario Cornacchia, Director,
Commercial Services; Lloyd Mathias, Product Manager, Isotope
Sales; Alfred Mo, Prod
uct Manager, Isotope Sales; Bob Rankin, Manager DTRF; and
Pauline Witke, Manager, Radioactive Material Transport.


6. (SBU) OPG PERSPECTIVE: From the outset of the meeting, Mr.
Cornacchia stated that OPG has been contacted by "over a
dozen parties worldwide" interested in purchasing OPG's He-3.
We understand that these Parties propose to harvest the He-3
in-situ, i.e., at the OPG storage facility located in the
Darlington plant site, thus leaving OPG to continue storing
the residual tritium, and requiring OPG to eventually address
disposition of the containers. Mr. Rankin also confided that
he has proposed to his management that He-3 be harvested by
his staff in the DTRF facility. To date, OPG management has
been cool to this idea.

7. (SBU) OPG PERSPECTIVE CONT'D: In REF E, OPG expressed
interest in working with DOE on He-3 supply, stipulating that
the U.S. would remove and retain ownership of all He-3
containers stored at OPG. Since He-3 supply is not a core
OPG business function, OPG views their role as supportive,
with DOE leading the effort and requesting actions from OPG.

8. (SBU) ISSUES DISCUSSED: This technical discussion provided
each side with the information necessary to understand the
effort required to remove the residual tritium storage units
from the OPG facility in Darlington, Ontario, Canada, to the
DOE Savannah River Site. Major issues covered include: (1)
lack of certified overpacks for shipment; (2) currently
available overpacks can only hold one storage unit, (3) cross
border transport; (4) need to develop a clear path forward on
tritium accountability requirements; and (5) possible
compensation for residual tritium.

9. (SBU) OVERPACKS: There are very few certified overpacks
available for transporting the storage units from OPG to the
Savannah River Site. US certified containers can only store
one storage unit. The Canadian unit (of which there is at
most one available) can store up to six, but is currently
only approved to carry one. Fabrication time is estimated to
be 18-24 months.


10. (SBU) TRANSPORT: There are no escort requirements for
transporting the storage containers through Canada. The U.S.
team needs to confirm escort requirements within the US and
trans-border handoff.


11. (SBU) MONITORING: OPG was not certain about monitoring
requirements that Canada might impose on the residual tritium
embedded in the storage containers. OPG stated they need
guidance from the Canadian Government, since the answer to
the issue concerns GOC Policy.


12. (SBU) RESIDUAL TRITIUM COMPENSATION: Mr. Cornacchia also
made the point that sale of tritium is part of OPG business.
He stated his preference that, should there become a larger
market for residual tritium, some arrangement be made for
cost-sharing sales of the residual tritium stored in the
storage units. While not a near term issue, the USG needs to
be aware of that possibility.


13. (SBU) NEXT STEPS AND U.S. ACTION ITEMS:
- Draft a technical report of the meeting and tour of DTRF
- The US team needs to confirm escort requirements within
the US and trans-border handoff.
- Complete the Statement of Work and formal Request for
Proposal
- As part of the negotiations, OPG will need us to sign a
non-disclosure agreement

14. (SBU) The Department thanks Post for their assistance.
For further information, please contact Joseph Glaser,
DOE/NNSA, Office for Counterterrorism, 202-586-2648,
joseph.glaser@nnsa.doe.gov.
CLINTON

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