Figures of the month
has researched the quantity of plutonium fabricated into MOX fuel and
loaded into French light water reactors. In total 25.7 tons of plutonium
were fabricated into 1,104 MOX assemblies and loaded into Electricité
de France (EDF) reactors as of June 1999. Currently 17 reactors (only
900 MW units) are loaded with a maximum of 30 % of MOX in the core.
In parallel the stockpile of French plutonium continues to increase
year after year and has reached 38.7 tons at the end of 1997. At the
same time an additional 33.6 tons of foreign plutonium was stored in
France. The total quantity of non irradiated plutonium on the shelves
in France increased from 72.3 tons, as declared by the French government
to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to around 80 tons
at the end of 1998. As of the end of June 1999, the official figure
for 1998 had still not been published.
Quantities of Plutonium Fabricated
Into French MOX Fuel
(in numbers of fuel assemblies and in metric tons)
Words of the month
"A sound energy policy and a sound environmental policy
calls for utilisation of plutonium
in nuclear power reactors."
Opening line of
the paper by H.S. Kamath and colleagues at the Bhabha Atomic Research
Center in India to the International Symposium on MOX Fuel Cycle Technologies,
held at IAEA in Vienna, 17-21 May 1999
"There are some organisations for which killing nuclear power
is one of their 'raison d'Étre'. Being the most nuclear company (...),
COGEMA is their first target".
Jean Syrota, CEO of COGEMA in an interview with La Tribune (25 June
After more than ten years at the head of "the target", Jean Syrota,
god-father of the powerful elitist Corps des Mines, has been dropped
by the politicians. He has been replaced by Anne Lauvergeon, nominated
by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on June 23, 1999. Being replaced by
a 39 year old woman at the key position of the nuclear industry is interpreted
as a slap in the face of Syrota. (Note for insiders: even if she acceded
to the Corps des Mines, she has graduated of the Ecole Normale Supérieure
rather than the top graded Ecole Polytechnique as most of the "mineurs").
COGEMA officials have been under increasing fire since January 1999
when the La Hague managers tolerated a violent demonstration against
the leading Green Party candidate at the European elections Dany Cohn-Bendit.
Activist Victim of Police Violence
Laurent Bonnemains from Cherbourg, the city close to the La Hague reprocessing
plant in French Normandy, was certified unfit for work by his medical
doctor for at least 60 days after he was violently attacked by national
police following a peaceful action by the environmental group. In may
1999, Greenpeace divers managed to install pumping equipment into the
discharge pipe of Europe's largest source of radioactive pollution.
Several thousand liters of contaminated water were pumped into special
containers on board of a purpose equipped ship. When Greenpeace had
unloaded one of the containers onto a truck, the police intervened and
prevented the truck from moving. A group of gendarmes seized Mr. Bonnemains
after he had climbed down a crane and held him down while one of them
brutally and clearly on purpose twisted his thumb. As a consequence
Mr. Bonnemains had the ligaments ruptured, had to undergo surgery and
stayed for one week in hospital. He filed a complaint with the public
prosecutor. Greenpeace France's nuclear campaigner Jean-Luc Thierry
declared: "Once again it is those who try to attract attention to pollution
who are criminalised and become victims of violence." He also assures
that Greenpeace will support any medical and legal costs involved to
shed the light on this "intolerable police misconduct".