What  is  the  Uranium   Fuel   Cycle?
                                                           United States
                                                           Environmental Protection
                                                 Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (6608J)
                                                    KJ2-F-12-003 I September 201:
Milling of
Uranium Ore
Uranium is extracted
from ore with strong
acids or bases. The
uranium is concentrated
in a solid substance
called "yellowcake."
Plants convert the
uranium in yellowcake
to uranium hexafluoride
(UF6), a compound
that can be made into
nuclear fuel.
Processing facilities
concentrate uranium235-
the form (isotope) that is
capable of undergoing a
nuclear reaction.
   Reprocessing is the initial
   separation of spent nuclear fuel
   into its constituent parts.
   Reprocessing is currently not
   taking place in the U.S.
                                                     Spent Nuclear Fuel
                                                     Used or "spent" nuclear
                                                     fuel is stored in pools, or
                                                     in specially designed dry
                                                     storage casks.
                                                     Generation of
                                                     Electricity at Nuclear
                                                     Power Plants
                                                     Electricity is generated by
                                                     nuclear power plants with
                                                     reactors that use water for
                                                     moderating nuclear reactions
                                                     and cooling.
 • Dotted lines show
   processes that a re
   not currently taking
   place in the U.S.
Fabrication of Fuel
The enriched uranium is converted
into fuel pellets and placed into rods
for use in nuclear power plants.
EPA's "Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for
Nuclear Power Operations" limit the radiation releases
and doses to the public from the normal operation of
uranium fuel facilities, including nuclear power plants.

What is  the  Uranium  Fuel  Cycle?
    The  Uranium Fuel Cycle:



    Air—Tiny amounts of radioactive elements, such as
    argon, krypton, xenon, iodine and tritium (a radioactive
    form of hydrogen) get into the air during the normal
    operations of nuclear power plants.

    Water—Wastewater discharges can contain tiny
    amounts of radioactive hydrogen (tritium) and other
    radioactive constituents. Facility wastewater permits
    set strict limits on how much radioactivity can be
    discharged to water.

    Radioactive Wastes—Wastes managed for their
    radioactive content.

    Spent Nuclear Fuels—Fuel that has been withdrawn
    from a nuclear reactor following irradiation, the
    constituent elements of which have not been
    separated by reprocessing.
EPA and  Nuclear

Power Operations

EPA's mission is to protect human health and the
environment. EPA sets limits on the amount of
radiation that can be released into the environment.
EPA does not regulate the daily operations of
nuclear power plants or nuclear fuel facilities.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
has regulatory responsibility for licensing and
oversight of commercial nuclear power facilities,
and implements EPA's environmental standards at
applicable facilities.
Environmental Radiation Protection
Standards for Nuclear Power Operations
Federal Register Reference—42 FR
2860, Vol. 42, No. 9, January 13,1977

For more information, visit our website at:
www.epa.gov/radiation/laws/l 90
                                                                                                       United States
                                                                                                       Environmental Protection