USA to construct Jordanian storage facility

09 March 2009

The USA is to design and construct a national storage facility in Amman for Jordan's radioactive waste and nuclear materials under a contract signed in Washington, DC.
The agreement between the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) and the US Department of Energy's (DoE's) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) was signed by Ned Xoubi, nuclear fuel cycle commissioner at JAEC, and Daniel Rutherford, contract manager at PNNL.
According to a statement from Jordan's embassy in Washington, under the contract, the DoE will provide JAEC with $370,000 for the construction of the central storage facility. The project - expected to be completed later this year - will comprise some 4000 square feet of storage space that will "host Jordan's radioactive waste and nuclear sources in a safe and secure environment for the next five decades."
The statement added, "All radioactive waste will be managed, stored and monitored in strict accordance with the best international standards and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) guidelines."
Prince Zeid Ra'ad, Jordan's Ambassador to the USA, said that identifying, consolidating, and securing radioactive sources in a "safe, secure environment is in the best interest of both Jordan and the United States." He added, "We look forward to further cooperation between our two countries to continue to bring more equipment, training, and upgrades to the storage facility in Amman."
In September 2007, the USA and Jordan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperating on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. US secretary of energy Sam Bodman and Jordanian minister for scientific research Khaled Touqan signed the MoU on the margins of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) ministerial meeting in Vienna, Austria.
Under that agreement, "the two countries will work together to develop requirements for appropriate power reactors, fuel service arrangements, civilian training, nuclear safety, energy technology and other related areas," the US Embassy in Amman said in a statement. The agreement specified that all cooperative activities will be consistent with GNEP.
The Jordanian energy minister has said that the country, which has virtually no oil or gas resources, expects to have a nuclear power plant operating by 2015, for electricity and desalination. Jordan's Committee for Nuclear Strategy has set out a program for nuclear power to provide 30% of electricity by 2030 or 2040, and to provide for exports.
In addition to its nuclear cooperation agreement with the USA, Jordan has signed similar agreements with Canada, France and UK, in respect to both power and desalination, and is seeking help from the IAEA. It has also signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with China, covering uranium mining in Jordan and nuclear power, and another with South Korea related to infrastructure including nuclear power and desalination. Jordan has also signed a preliminary cooperation agreement with Russia.