Second quarter of 2000

COGEMA enters plutonium immobilization cooperation with Australian company

WISE-Paris, 13 June 2000

[Posted 13/06/2000]

In a surprising move the French nuclear fuel company COGEMA starts a joint company with the Australian national company ANSTO to bid on the the US Department of Energy plutonium immobilization project. So far COGEMA has only been involved in MOX fuel fabrication and has always refused to consider plutonium immobilization in its own country.

Following is ANSTO's press release on the issue:

8 June 2000

COGEMA ANSTO Announces Formation of New LLC

COGEMA and ANSTO, through their U.S. companies, COGEMA, Inc. and ANSTO, Inc., are making public the formation of a Limited Liability Corporation. The new LLC intends to bid on one prong of the Department of Energy's hybrid approach to excess weapons plutonium disposition: plutonium immobilization. The goal of the immobilization project is to turn excess material into a ceramic form and enclose it in a shield of highly radioactive glass for long-term storage. COGEMA is already involved in the mixed-oxide fuel portion of the DOE's plutonium disposition mission.

The two companies began working together in 1995 to develop synergies with their melter technologies. This past November the companies collaborated to successfully transport spent research reactor fuel from Australia to France in COGEMAs Transnuclear ship.

Mr. Rhonnie Smith, CEO of COGEMA-ANSTO, LLC, stated, 'Forging a new corporation with ANSTO has been a positive experience. ANSTO's scientific focus blends well with COGEMA. ANSTO's years of experience with SYNROC ceramic waste forms will prove invaluable to the immobilization project. ANSTO is Australia's nuclear research and development organization.

Professor Helen Garnett, President of ANSTO, Inc., said, "COGEMA has years of experience with plutonium facility design and operations and has more experience handling nuclear materials than any company in the world. We respect COGEMA's strong non-proliferation goals and were pleased to see them successfully bid the MOX project. Our experienced team, led by Dr. Adam Jostsons, is looking forward to the prospect of working with COGEMA to get the rest of the job done."

Together, the two companies bring the complete range of plutonium disposition processes and technologies needed to assist the Department of Energy in the disposition of excess weapons plutonium.

For further information, contact:
Pam Keenan, Communications Manager ANSTO
(02) 9717 3770 or 0418 284 813
Note: International Release to the USA and Western Europe

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