Bill to ban Russian uranium imports heads to White House

May 1, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News
Energy Fuels’ White Mesa Mill in southeastern Utah is the only operating conventional uranium mill in the United States. (Photo: Energy Fuels)

The U.S. Senate approved April 30—by unanimous consent—a bill banning the importation of Russian uranium. The House of Representatives passed the bill, House Resolution 1042, last fall, and now President Biden is expected to sign it into law.

The prohibition will go into effect 90 days after the date of the bill’s enactment but allows the Department of Energy to issue waivers if there is no alternate source of low-enriched uranium available to keep U.S. nuclear reactors in operation or if importing Russian uranium is deemed in the best national interest.

Even with waivers, the bill caps the amount of Russian uranium imports at 476,536 kg (or 476.5 metric tons) in 2024 and decreases the amount allowed each year until 2027. In 2028 the waivers will end.

Quotable: Senate cosponsors issued the following statements about the bill’s passage:

  • “America’s dangerous reliance on Russian enriched uranium must come to an end—our national security depends on it. With the passage of our legislation, America is taking an important step to spur uranium conversion and enrichment in the U.S., support advanced nuclear development and energy independence, and end Russian control of the global nuclear fuel supply chain.”
    —Sen. Jim Risch (R., Idaho)
  • “I have fought for years to end America’s reliance on Russian nuclear fuel. Our efforts have finally paid off with passage of our bill to ban these imports once and for all. Wyoming has the uranium to replace Russian imports, and we’re ready to use it. Our bipartisan legislation will help defund Russia’s war machine, revive American uranium production, and jumpstart investments in America’s nuclear fuel supply chain. This is a tremendous victory. I’m grateful to members of both parties for helping get this over the finish line.”—Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.)
  • “It is unconscionable for the [United States], as the superpower of the world, to contribute to Vladmir Putin’s ability to finance his unlawful war against Ukraine through our reliance on Russia for the uranium we need to power nuclear reactors. I am proud to have worked on this legislation with ranking member [Barrasso] to put an end to Russian uranium imports. . . . . This legislation is one more critical step toward reshoring our nuclear supply chains.”—Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.V.)

What’s next: In addition to the import ban, the bill simultaneously unlocks $2.72 billion in funding to ramp up production of domestic uranium fuel.

H.R. 1042 serves as a complement to the Nuclear Fuel Security Act, which was included in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2024.

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