Netherlands - Plutonium Investigation n°11

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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