France - Plutonium Investigation n°1
 

Public Enquiries for MOX Fuel

Public enquiries for MOX fuel EDF envisaged using MOX fuel in twenty-eight of its thirty-four 900 MWe PWRs. The original operating licenses of sixteen of the first series of 900 MWe reactors permit the use of MOX fuel. The utility has not licensed its latest 900 MWe PWRs to use MOX fuel, nor has it licensed its more recent 1300 and 1,450 MWe PWRs to operate with MOX fuel. In order to use MOX fuel in the twenty-eight 900 MWe reactors, EDF would have to modify the operating licenses of 12 PWRs; such modification requires public enquiries.

A public enquiry to authorise the use of MOX in the four reactors of the Chinon plant took place during the 14 February to 17 March 1997 period; the enquiry did not arouse much interest. The Forum Plutonium was one of the only bodies to voice any opposition and requested that the procedures be postponed. For EDF, such procedures are merely a formality because public enquiries do not permit any serious confrontation of opinions because of the imbalance between the means available to the utility and the lack of means in terms of expertise and financial backing available to citizens. It is planned to use Mox fuel in Unit 4 of the Chinon plant at the end of 1997. Public enquiries were planned to follow for the use of MOX in Units 3 and 4 of the Le Blayais plant and Units 5 and 6 of the Gravelines plant. These two plants have already been using MOX fuel in other units; EDF had hoped that the requests for authorisation would be satisfied without any controversy. The last request for authorisation would have been for the four units of the Cruas-Meysse plant. However, there are indications that MOX production capacity limitations may incite EDF to only submit, for the time being, requests for MOX authorisation for the reactors at Chinon.

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