Third quarter of 2001
MPs Protest German Policy on MOX Fabrication
WISE-Paris, 9 July 2001
Nine Members of the European Parliament from five
countries have protested in an open letter to German Federal Minister
for the Environment, Jürgen Trittin, against the terms of the draft
bill on the revision of the German Nuclear Law. The wording contained
in the draft bill from June 2001 would force utilities to use separated
plutonium in the form of MOX fuel. The MEPs wonder "Why does Germany
not support the plutonium immobilisation rather than MOX strategy for
separated plutonium as it does for Russian weapons plutonium
- along with a conditioning strategy for spent fuel (...)?."
Plutonium Investigation publishes the entire letter
of the MEPs, all members of the Green Group, in its entirety hereunder.
An open letter to Jürgen Trittin German Environment
Subject: German Nuclear Phase-out
Minister Jürgen Trittin
Federal Minister of Environment, Nature Protection and Reactor Safety
Strasbourg 4 th July 2001
Dear Minister Trittin,
It is very welcome that Germany is phasing out nuclear
power which is a great step forward for both Germany and the EU. However
the draft bill for the revision of the atomic law specifies that the
separated plutonium recovered from reprocessing must be used as a nuclear
fuel for the purposes of the commercial generation of electricity.
This would mean not only that Germany's atom law
allows for the shipment of spent fuel to reprocessing plants in Cap
La Hague and Sellafield until July 2005 - it does not put any deadline
to the reprocessing as such - but also that plutonium must be returned
to Germany in the form of plutonium bearing MOX fuel for use in reactors.
Since Germany does neither operate a reprocessing plant nor a MOX fabrication
facility, such a legal situation would put an additional risk burden
on the populations of other European countries.
I want to make it very clear that this is not the
policy of Greens in other Member States of the European Union and particularly
in the UK, France and Ireland where Greens have made opposing reprocessing
our highest political priority. If Germany were now to allow for continued
reprocessing AND give BNFL the support on their economic case they are
desperate to get in order to secure permission to open the Sellafield
MOX plant, this would amount to the betrayal of the environmental concerns
we all share as Greens. Greens in France including minister Voynet have
targeted reprocessing as dangerous and uneconomic and have blocked the
capacity increase of the MOX fabrication facility MELOX at Marcoule.
I want to make it absolutely clear that we do not
oppose the principle that Germany takes back nuclear waste from German
power plants. This is of course a fundamental plank of sustainability
and you must be congratulated for stating this principle so clearly.
But why do you want nuclear waste returned in the form of MOX fuel?
To take back separated plutonium from German utilities at Sellafield
as MOX fuel, which is highly dangerous, is not an environmentally safe
It is of course true that no-one wants to either
store nuclear waste or see it used as a nuclear fuel near them which
just points once again to the whole madness of the nuclear entrapment
which you are seeking to escape from and of course is the reason why
Germany needs to phase-out nuclear power.
You have informed power utilities in Germany you
wanted "proof that they have firm contracts to process all separated
plutonium into MOX before the remaining spent fuel in Germany may be
shipped off to France and the U.K., in the five years before reprocessing
of German spent fuel is legally banned". You also require that "utilities
will provide an annual statement showing binding commercial MOX fabrication
agreements, plus licenses for loading the MOX in their reactors, to
validate their scheduled shipments of spent fuel to foreign reprocessing
sites through mid-2005." However, the Sellafield and La Hague reprocessing
plant do not conform to German legal requirements in any case - as shown
in a study that you have commissioned yourself (1)
- so these proposals would, in fact, be technically illegal.
It would be technically possible, and on environmental
and non-proliferation grounds most sensible, for German utilities to
have their already separated plutonium conditioned and packaged as waste
at Sellafield. (2) Why does Germany not
support the plutonium immobilisation rather than MOX strategy for separated
plutonium - as it does for Russian weapons plutonium - along with a
conditioning strategy for spent fuel already in store at Sellafield?
This is a win-win deal: it will remove plutonium from commerce and it
will provide productive work for BNFL to replace its contracted reprocessing
and MOX production agreements with German utilities. Such a strategy
would avoid BNFL trying to legally pressurise German utilities to reprocess
spent fuel already sent to Sellafield.
It is quite unbelievable that in the process of
agreeing the German Nuclear phase-out you have embarked on a Faustian
pact in which you have traded the German phase out in exchange for sustaining
reprocessing and MOX production at Sellafield. Just when British Nuclear
Fuels Ltd (BNFL) is reeling from blows on all sides, particularly from
the Japanese decision not to renew contracts following the falsification
of safety data at Sellafield, the German Greens in the person of yourself
are specifying that nuclear fuel shipped to Sellafield from Germany
must be returned as MOX fuel, thus handing them the only lifeline that
BNFL under its current strategy can hang on to.
Nuala Ahern MEP, Vice Chair European Parliament
Committee on Industry, Trade, Research and Energy.
Danielle Auroi. Vice President Green Group in the European Parliament.
Alexander de Roo. Vice Chair Environment Committee.
Hiltrud Breyer. Green MEP Germany.
Marianne Isler-Beguin. Green MEP France.
Jean Lambert. Green MEP England.
Caroline Lucas. Green MEP England.
Patricia McKenna. Green MEP Ireland.
Claude Turmes. Green MEP Luxembourg.
- Beninschke, A. and Küppers, Ch., Ermittlung
der möglichen Strahlenexpositionen der Bevölkerung aufgrund
der Emissionen der Wiederaufarbeitungsanlagen in Sellafield und La
Hague, commissioned by the Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz, Öko-Institut,
- Details of this technical option are contained
in a new 240 page report, April 2001, 'The Disposal of Civil Plutonium
in the UK, by Fred Barker and Mike Sadnicki, two members of the British
Government-appointed Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee