Spain - Plutonium Investigation n°16

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Figures of the month

Plutonium Stocks in Russia
Annual figures for civil unirradiated plutonium
As of 1st July 1996
As of 31st Dec. 1998
1. Unirradiated separated plutonium in product stores at reprocessing plants
27,200 kg
29,200 kg
2. Unirradiated separated plutonium in the course of manufacture or fabrication and plutonium in unirradiated products at fuel or other fabricating plants or elsewhere
included in para. 1 total
3. Plutonium in unirradiated fuel or other fabricated products at reactor sites or elsewhere
64 kg
200 kg
4. Unirradiated separated plutonium held elsewhere**
870 kg
900 kg
TOTAL (this line does not exist in the official document)
28,134 kg
30,300 kg

* : rounded for 100 kg
** : separated plutonium used for research purposes

Estimated quantities of plutonium contained in spent civil reactor fuel
As of 1st July 1996
As of 31st Dec. 1998
rounded for 1 ton plutonium
1. Plutonium contained in spent fuel at civil reactor sites
up to 40 tons
42 tons
2. Plutonium contained in spent fuel at reprocessing plants
up to 30 tons
9 tons
3. Plutonium contained in spent fuel held elsewhere
included in 1 total
16 tons
TOTAL (this line does not exist in the official document)
up to 70 tons
67 tons

(Source : Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to IAEA, 22 March 1999

    It can be noted that while the International Guidelines for the Management of Plutonium - which have been adopted by the Russian Federation - explicitely call for the plublication of figures on plutonium inventory covering two following years (as of 31 Dec. of one year, and in parentheses the previous year's figures), the Russian Federation has published two separate years (in fact 1997 is missing), and for 1996, as in the middle of the year.

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Word of the month

     "I am going to tell you something: The biggest threat in the world is the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons' proliferation. If we don't address this question, humanity will soon be extinguished. (...) I am very annoyed with the fact that other countries don't consider seriously the link between terrorism and weapons of massive destruction."

Madeleine Albright
United States Secretary of State in an interview by Der Spiegel, 26th of July 1999

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What a Waste

Will Trillo's nuclear waste repository in Spain be brought to light?

     The Council of Ministers gave its go ahead 31st of July 1999 to the high level radioactive waste repository at Trillo, in the center of Spain. The government used the "urgency or exceptionnal public interest" article of the Soil Management Law to circumvent Trillo's laws which forbid the implementation of radioactive waste storage. This storage center would have a capacity two times bigger than the amount required by Trillo's nuclear power plant. The town is associated with 127 other cities of Castilla la Mancha in an initiative led by Ecologistas en Acción and Greenpeace, and sustained by the president of Castilla la Mancha Jose Bono to prevent the construction of the repository in the area. It makes it clear therefore why the Council of Ministers, facing a large opposition just before the next general election, and even if the plant will have its irradiated fuel pool saturated by the year 2003, preferred to approve the 5th General Plan which postpones from 2000 to 2010 the construction of a storage facility.

EDF has a stockpile of 6,700 t of spent fuel

     According to EDF, the quantities of stored spent fuel at the La Hague site reached 6,700 t of heavy metal at the end of 1998, that is to say 700 t more than the quantities of EDF spent light water reactor fuel reprocessed at the La Hague facilities by the same date. EDF's fuel department declared to Plutonium Investigation that this stockpile is planned to be reprocessed, but stated that the storage capacity of the La Hague's cooling ponds would allow the increase of the stockpile for 30 years more according to the current annual rate (300-350 tons/year).

Hidden increase of production capacity of the MELOX facility or decrease of French MOX use?

   Dominique Voynet, the French minister of Environment, finally co-signed the decree allowing COGEMA to operate a new production line at the MELOX facility at Marcoule which could have an annual capacity of about 50 tons of MOX for boiling water reactors. This extension is aimed at new foreign contracts, especially with Japan, but the nominal total production capacity remains limited to its present level of 115 tons (oxyde) per year, corresponds to the amount currently produced for the French reactors. Should it be deduced from this that EDF's reactors would load less MOX from now on or would COGEMA try to reach its aim of 250 tons per year capacity for the MELOX facility in a step by step approach trying to circumvent the necessary public inquiry?

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