Fourth quarter of 2002

Switzerland “forgets” civilian separated plutonium stock abroad

WISE-Paris, 19 november 2002

[Posted 20/11/2002]

The Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in its latest declaration on plutonium stocks, (1) declared less than 100 kg of civilian separated plutonium as of 31 December 2001. (2) However, this figure may not reflect the real stock of separated plutonium belonging to the country.

Switzerland is a reprocessing client of the two European companies COGEMA and BNFL. According to the latest available public documents, Switzerland contracted 761 tons of spent fuel with COGEMA (of which 619 tons reprocessed as of January 2001 (3) and 422 tons of spent fuel with BNFL (of which 70 tons reprocessed as of July 2000). (4) A rough estimate of the plutonium content of the reprocessed Swiss spent fuel leads to the approximate figure of 7 tons of separated plutonium, which is far from the 600 kg of plutonium contained in fresh MOX fuel that the country declares every two years to the IAEA since May 1998. In fact, the Swiss government representatives omit to fill out a crucial line in the IAEA formulary that asks for separated plutonium stocks “held in locations in other countries and therefore not included above”.

Switzerland did declare a stagnant stock of three tons of plutonium contained in spent fuels held on the reprocessing sites abroad and not yet reprocessed. Moreover the country keeps a constant stock of eight tons of plutonium contained in spent fuels held at Swiss reactor sites.

Notes :

  1. dated 18 June 2002
  2. For more details see “Annual data on civilian plutonium separated and contained in irradiated fuel per country
  3. Commission Spéciale et Permanente d’Information (CSPI), Bulletin n°10, April 2002
  4. Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment, “Status of THORP Baseload Contracts”, 23 March 2001

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