Third quarter of 2002

Fifth Return Shipment of Belgian High Level Waste from La Hague – Quality Control Issue Still Pending

WISE-Paris, 26 September 2002

[Posted 26/09/2002]

COGEMA announced on 18 September 02 that the fifth shipment of Belgian high level vitrified waste would leave Valognes station, near La Hague in the French Normandy, by train as of 24 September 2002. It reached the Belgoprocess intermediate storage facility at Mol on 25 September 02.

High level waste arising from reprocessing of spent Belgian nuclear fuel at La Hague plants is destined to be returned to Belgium according to SYNATOM-COGEMA reprocessing contracts and agreements between the two countries.

However neither COGEMA nor ONDRAF (body in charge of nuclear waste management in Belgium) communicated on the status of previously agreed destructive analysis that should be carried out on a representative sample of vitrified high level radioactive. In fact, the proposal of the Secretary of State of Energy, Olivier Deleuze, not to accept returned waste without quality-control insurance, became a decision of the Belgian Government as of 3 March 2000. The latest communication by ONDRAF on the progress of the sampling methodology and the quality-control issue is dated early February 02, and the issue is not even mentioned in its communiqué on the fifth shipment. Since 6 July 2000, ONDRAF, together with the Mol nuclear research center, is in charge of the development of a new quality-control program.

This latest shipment will be the fourth since the Belgian government decision on additional quality-control verifications. Adding the new 28 canisters to the ones already in storage, the total reaches a number of 140 canisters returned from the La Hague reprocessing plant, corresponding to the high level waste arising from the reprocessing of around 190 tons of Belgian spent fuel. This figure is to be compared to the 670 t of contracted and already reprocessed spent fuel of Belgian origin.

Back to contents