Spain - Plutonium Investigation n°16
 

Worth Reading

C. Küppers, W. Liebert, M. Sailer, "Realisierbarkeit der Verglasung von Plutonium zusammen mit hochradioaktiven Abfällen sowie der Fertigung von MOX-Lagerstäben zur Direkten Endlagerung als Alternativen zum Einsatz von MOX-Brennelementen", Öko-Institut, 1999, 113 pages, 20 DM.

  Considering the dangers and costs of MOX use, the Öko-Institut has investigated the possibilities and feasibility of the final storage of plutonium.

The total amount of plutonium in Germany by the end of 1997 came to 74 tons, with an annual increase of about 4.5 tons, of which 36 tons in separated form (26 to 29 tons are stored). The use of plutonium in MOX fuel increases technical risks as well as higher costs than uranium oxide fuel. Four methods for the final storage of plutonium have been investigated in this study:

Two methods call for vitrification, one direct vitrification process called "can-in-canister" (planned to be used in the USA for excess weapon grade plutonium treated in ceramic form inside special steel made canisters) and one vitrification process with fission products (requiring the construction of a new facility).

The two other methods, so called storage rods, are based on mixed oxide ceramic rods associated with spent fuel rods within designed storage elements. These two latter methods have the advantage of being feasible in the existing MOX facilities, using the MOX transportation structures, and therefore provide reduced costs. They would allow the treatment of 3,3 to 7 tons of plutonium each year, using only the existing amount of irradiated fuel in Germany.

The feasibility of final storage is claimed to be guaranteed with regard to the safety and criticality levels in all these processes; the future final storage repository has to be designed anyway for vitrified plutonium as well as for storage rods.


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