France - Plutonium Investigation n°1

November 1997                                       Editorial

France to begin with

France currently produces about 80% of the world's separated plutonium. Whereas the production of military plutonium is almost at a standstill in all the nuclear weapon countries, the production of civil plutonium is flourishing in France. While US and Russia are trying to find a solution for the management of about 100 tonnes of military plutonium from dismantled weapons, the amount of plutonium stored in France is increasing by 10 tonnes per year, and represented more than 65 tonnes at the end of 1996.

Bearing in mind that roughly 10 kg is enough to build a nuclear explosive device and that a few micrograms of inhaled plutonium can cause lung cancer, this evolution is particularly disquieting.

Moreover, decisions relating to plutonium are discussed behind the closed doors of industry and the higher civil service. Information is not freely available and members of parliament are permanently faced with fait accompli situations. Plutonium Investigation, with ten issues per year, each focused on a different country, is committed to exposing the issues at stake in the plutonium industry together with revealing information on the what's happening behind the scenes in this very special industry far removed from democratic controls.

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News !

Worth Reading

"La France Nucléaire , Matières et Sites"
By Mary Byrd Davis, published by WISE-Paris
256 pages in French.

"Comprehensive impact assessment of the use of MOX fuel in LIght Water Reactors"
By Jinzaburo Takagi et al., CNIC, Tokyo, 335 pages.

The "Right Livelihood Foundation" in Stockholm recently made public the names of the five recipients who will share this years's SEK 1.8 million (US$ 0.24 million) prize.