Sweden - Plutonium Investigation n°14/15

News !
Figures of the month

     WISE-Paris 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)

Number of assemblies Plutonium content
Year Per year Cumulated Per year Cumulated
  1982* 36 36 0.7 0.7
1987 16 52 0.3 1.1
1988 32 84 0.7 1.7
1989 48 132 1.0 2.7
1990 56 188 1.2 4.0
1991 64 252 1.4 5.4
1992 64 316 1.4 6.8
1993 56 372 1.3 8.1
1994 88 460 2.0 10.1
1995 56 516 1.3 11.4
  1995** 16 532 0.4 11.8
1996 72 604 1.8 13.5
1997 176 780 4.3 17.8
1998 228 1008 5.6 23.4
1999 (june) 96 1104 2.3 25.7
Sources: COGEMA, EDF, WISE-Paris
*fabricated in Germany 
**including 16 assemblies fabricated in Belgium                                                     

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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'tre'. Being the most nuclear company (...), COGEMA is their first target".

Jean Syrota, CEO of COGEMA in an interview with La Tribune (25 June 1999).

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 He has been replaced by Anne Lauvergeon, nominated by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on June 23, 1999.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.

Greenpeace Activist Victim of Police Violence

Greenpeace activist 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".

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