February 1999 Editorial
Plutonium to Waste!
Where to go with Dutch plutonium? At least one tonne of plutonium
separated from Dutch spent fuel is currently stored in France.
Originally, the material was supposed to lead the world into an energy
future of endless resources.
Reality is different. A few years ago, the owners of the plutonium,
the Dutch electricity utilities asked their French counterpart EDF whether
it would want to take over the awkward material. The answer was a firm
'no'. EDF has piled up itself a huge stock of about 40 tonnes of separated
plutonium. The stuff has become so cumbersome that EDF put a zero value
to its plutonium stocks in its accounts. The Dutch utilities GKN and
EPZ have paid for one tonne of that material in the order of US $ 150
million.Another 1.4 tonnes of plutonium, at least, await separation
of Dutch spent fuel under reprocessing contracts for Sellafield (UK)
and La Hague (France). While other European utilities, after the failure
of the fast breeder reactor line, use some of their plutonium in MOX
fuels, their is no such possibility in the Netherlands.Here's an idea.
No utility believes anymore in any benefits coming out of plutonium
separation. However, the Netherlands, if giving up further plutonium
production, would have to deal with unreprocessed spent fuel AND with
separated plutonium stocks. Instead of separating even further quantities
of plutonium and adding to the international plutonium stocks problem,
the Netherlands could swap their spent fuel into equivalent quantities
of separated plutonium + corresponding reprocessing waste. Introducing
this plutonium into a programme to condition it together with other
high active waste for final storage would divide the Dutch problems
by two (manage only separated plutonium + waste and not spent fuel)
AND decrease the international plutonium stock problem by indicating
the only responsible fate for plutonium: make it a waste package.
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