Fourth quarter of 2002

Third shipment of vitrified waste on its way back to Switzerland

Since the referendum opposing the nuclear waste lab of Wellenberg, the fate of high level waste seems more doubtful than ever.

WISE-Paris, 18 October 2002

[Posted 19/10/2002]

The third shipment of vitrified waste generated by the reprocessing of Swiss spent fuel left Valognes terminal on 15th October 2002 bound for the Zwilag repository near Würenlingen in Switzerland. On 22nd September 2002 the referendum on the issue of the high level waste lab of Wellenberg in the Canton of Nidwalden clearly highlighted the success of the opponents to the project, with 58% of the votes cast against it. From now on, the final destination of the waste from La Hague seems more doubtful than ever.

COGEMA stated that the Castor HAW 20/28 CG type transport cask used for the shipment contained 28 canisters of highly radioactive glass logs. This adds up to a total of 84 canisters of highly radioactive vitrified waste having been returned to Switzerland. (1) The total amount, representing the vitrified radioactive waste generated by the reprocessing of 115 to 120 tons of spent fuel, should be set against the 649 tons of Swiss fuel under contract, 592 tons of which had already been reprocessed in March 2001.

La Hague only received one single shipment of Swiss spent fuel this year, on 10th April 2002. This situation mirrors the general moroseness among European reprocessing clients. Switzerland is admittedly not as advanced as Germany (2) or Belgium along the path of the withdrawal from reprocessing, but the question still remains open, especially as long as the proposition for a nuclear power moratorium has not been abandoned. (3)


  1. The first and second return shipments of vitrified waste were sent back to Switzerland on 11th December 2001 and 26th February 2002 respectively, each of which containing 28 canisters
  2. See WISE-Paris, « German Government and Utilities Sign Phase-Out Plan », 14 june 2001
  3. See WISE-Paris, « Switzerland divided over the reprocessing question, but industry remains wary », 5 July 2002

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