is Storing Illegally More than 100,000 m3 of Foreign Radioactive Waste
on the French Territory
WISE-Paris, 29 October 1998
During the last 22 years, reprocessing at La Hague of foreign spent
nuclear fuel has generated more than 100,000 cubic meters of solid radioactive
waste, according to an assessment made by WISE-Paris. Almost all of
this waste is stored illegally on the French territory.
According to the 30 December 1991 Act, "the storage of imported radioactive
waste in France, even if it has been reprocessed on the French territory,
is prohibited beyond the necessary technical delays due to its reprocessing"
(Art. 3). The technical delay is due to the cooling of the waste, which
is only required for the vitrified high-level radioactive waste - less
than 10% of the total volume, needing a maximum 5 years delay. However,
not a single package of intermediate -or low-level radioactive waste
has been sent back to COGEMA's foreign clients.
Facing black-out from COGEMA and its responsible ministries not giving
any information concerning the volume of waste to be attributed to its
clients, WISE-Paris has decided to publish its own assessment (See annexed
A large share of the volume of the so-called low-level radioactive
waste is already definitely buried at the Centre de Stockage de la Manche,
operated by the French national waste management agency ANDRA. This
storage contains notably all the waste of this category due to the operation
of the reprocessing plants from their start-up in 1976 to 1990. During
this period, more than half of the oxide spent fuel which was reprocessed
was of foreign origin. Furthermore, part of the waste due to foreign
reprocessing is bulk-stored at La Hague under poor safety conditions,
waiting for a new packaging.
COGEMA indicates it wants to send back other "equivalent" radioactive
waste in exchange for the waste which is buried in France. This exchange
between waste which was generated at least ten years ago and waste which
was generated recently according to new technologies, is much in favor
of the foreign clients and goes against the engagements of the French
State (see below). Currently, COGEMA is even proposing to its foreign
customers to keep all of the low-level radioactive waste in France.
Today, more than twenty years after the beginning
of foreign reprocessing (from Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands,
Japan, Germany and Spain), only five shipments of high-level radioactive
waste have been made towards Germany (two) and towards Japan (three),
corresponding to 258 cubic meters, that is 2.5% of the total high-level
radioactive waste or 0.22% of the total waste volume to be sent back.
Lacking precise data from COGEMA (inventory of waste
generated per reprocessing campaign and per client), WISE-Paris has
made its own assessment of the waste volumes . This assessment is based
on the quantity of waste which was reprocessed as of 1 March 1998 for
each country. The estimated volume corresponds to the volume of generated
solid waste, adding to it the volume of over-containers for transport
and final storage. The total estimate - that is more than 600,000 cubic
meters of foreign waste - also takes into account the decommissioning
waste, as well as the virtual volume which would be generated if COGEMA
did not discharge liquid nor gaseous radioactive effluents, but instead
used existing methods for its concentration and solidification to transform
them into solid waste.
This table does not give any value for the waste
generated for the reprocessing of metallic spent fuel (magnox type fuel).
Metallic fuel from France and Spain has been reprocessed at La Hague
until the middle of the 1980s. Spanish waste stored at La Hague should
also be sent back to its origin country.