Netherlands - Plutonium Investigation n°11

News !

Figure of the month

Following are two tables which give a WISE-Paris estimate for the inventory of separated plutonium and the inventory of plutonium in spent fuel for the Netherlands, as of 1 January 1999.

Production and Inventory of Separated Plutonium (kg)

Plant and Operator
Reprocessing Plant and End Use for the Plutonium
Dodewaard (GKN)
8.5 tonnes reprocessed at Eurochemic, which generated 47,4 kg plutonium (used for testing and FBR programme)
Borssele (EPZ)

- 85 tonnes reprocessed at COGEMA's UP2 plant, which generated 620 kg plutonium (used for the FBR programmes)

- 140 tonnes reprocessed at COGEMA's UP3 plant, which generated at least 1,000 kg plutonium (not used, stored at La Hague)

233.5 tonnes reprocessed, which generated at least 1,670 kg plutonium

(Source: Tweede Kamer 1985, COGEMA, WISE-Paris)

Spent Fuel to be Reprocessed and Plutonium Content
Plant and Operator
Reprocessing Plant
Dodewaard (GKN)
53 tonnes to be reprocessed at BNLFL's Thorp plant, which should generate at least 300 kg plutonium
Borssele (EPZ)
156 tonnes to be reprocessed at COGEMA's UP3 plant, which should generate at least 1,100 kg plutonium
209 tonnes to be reprocessed, which should generate at least 1,400 kg plutonium
(Source: COGEMA, WISE-Paris)

The two Dutch utilities have to manage at least 1,670 kg plutonium which has been separated from their spent fuel. A large share of this plutonium is stored at the La Hague plants with no planned end-use. Further reprocessing of spent fuel according to existing contracts with BNFL and COGEMA would generate at least 1,400 kg plutonium - for which there can be found no planned end use neither.

One French Franc for Superphénix - at least NLG 45 million for the Dutch utilitie

The Superphénix fast-breeder reactor, which has generated costs of about 60 billion French francs according to the French national accounting organisation (1996 figure), has been sold to the French electricity utility EDF for one symbolic French franc, at the end of 1998. According to an EDF spokesperson in a telephone interview with WISE-Paris at the beginning of February 1999, the company NERSA, which owned the reactor, was dismantled and absorbed by EDF after the sale. NERSA was a consortium with participations from EDF (51%), the Italian ENEL (33%) and SBK (16%). SBK is another consortium with participations from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands through the Dutch SEP (15%). The Dutch participation in NERSA was therefore about 2%.

EDF inherits of the larger economic consequences. Apart from NERSA debts and the reprocessing of the nuclear fuel which all former participants share, EDF is now responsible for the decommissioning and dismantling of the reactor.

According to the EDF representative, Superphénix debts amount to FRF 4.1 billion and the planned reprocessing of the nuclear fuel (one core which was used and the other one which was not) will cost FRF 2.7 billion. The Dutch participation in NERSA will therefore cost SEP FRF 136 million (NLG 45 million) not covered by the 1 FRF deal.

Questioned on the fissile materials resulting from the reprocessing, the EDF representative said that the former participants to NERSA will be responsible for their share. "EDF is not interested" in recuperating the plutonium from other participants (which is a confirmation that the French plutonium stockpile is not an asset). Managing plutonium from Superphénix will cost a lot to the Netherlands. Previous and future costs together with current debts have made Superphénix a very costly enterprise for the Dutch utilities.

Words of the month

"Today the nuclear community in the Netherlands is small but beautiful."

This sentence is the beginning of the editorial of "Holland Nuclear Profile", a short document prepared by the Netherlands Nuclear Society and the Netherlands Foreign Trade Agency to present the exhibitors of the Holland Pavilion at the ENC'98 International Nuclear Congress and the World Nuclear Expo in Nice, France, 25-28 October 1998.

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