Fouth quarter of 2001

New shipment of vitrified residues to Japan

WISE-Paris, 3 December 2001

[Posted 05/12/2001]

COGEMA announced on 3 December 2001, that it was preparing the seventh shipment of vitrified residues to be sent back to Japan (see COGEMA's communiqué below).

The six planned casks, of which 4 include 28 canisters each (TN 28 VT) and two include 20 canisters each (TN 20 VT), contain 152 canisters in total. They are added to the preceding 20 casks returned in six shipments in 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 (two shipments) and 2000, representing 464 canisters of vitrified residues. It is to be noted however that, of this total, an unknown but small number of canisters come from the UK reprocessing facility of Sellafield operated by BNFL. These canisters were sent back to Japan at the occasion of the sixth shipment of vitrified waste on 19 December 2000.

Lacking precise information on this issue, one may estimate that the 616 returned canisters (once the seventh shipment arrives to Japan) correspond to the reprocessing of approximately 820t of spent fuel. COGEMA has reprocessed 2944 t of Japanese spent fuel, the last ton of this fuel having been reprocessed at the end of 1999. More than 1500 canisters of Japanese vitrified residues remain to be shiped back to Japan, not counting the unknown amounts of cimented rods and end-fittings, of bitumenized sludge and low level radioactive waste, of which not one single package has been sent back.


7th return of vitrified residues to Japan, 3 December 2001

A seventh shipment of vitrified residues from COGEMA-laHague will leave Cherbourg to Japan on December 5th, 2001.

6 casks containing 152 canisters of vitrified residues will be loaded on the Pacific Sandpiper.

Reprocessing used nuclear fuel recovers 97% of valuable, reusable material and separates out the remaining 3%, which is waste. The waste is conditioned by turning it into a solid glass form by a process called vitrification.

This type of shipment follows the completion of different operations and is part of the contracts signed between the Japanese electric utilities, COGEMA and BNFL for the reprocessing of Japanese spent nuclear fuel:

- Transport from Japan to Europe of Japanese spent nuclear fuel,
- Reprocessing of this fuel in France & in the UK,
- And finally return shipment to the country of origin of the vitrified residues separated by reprocessing operations.

The first return shipment of vitrified residues was carried out in 1995. Five other were performed respectively in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000. The three partners (COGEMA, BNFL and ORC) have scheduled one shipment of vitrified residues a year, in average in the forthcoming years.

The reprocessing operations and the shipments of both spent fuel and vitrified residues comply with national and international regulations.

The ships transporting the materials have travelled over four millions miles without a single incident involving the release of radioactive material.

In Cherbourg, a media welcome will be organised at the hotel Mercure on the 5/12/01 from
7 h 00 am.

The route used and the approximate date of arrival to Japan will be released on the day of departure.

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