Source : STA, as quoted by CNIC, Tokyo.
Word of the month
"It was said that we would send back everything. Therefore
we will send back everything. We have started with vitrified waste,
because it was the first to be conditioned, and above all because it
contains virtually all of the radioactive inventory. It seemed to us
that we should start with what represents the essence of the radioactivity.
But we envisage sending back everything, moreover, in containers of
identical volume and shape. (...) The law prevents [us from keeping
the waste] and we respect the law. It is not because anti-nuclear organisations
try to make you believe the opposite (...) by constantly repeating erroneous
assertions that this is true (for all that). We will send back everything."
COGEMA Boss Jean Syrota on the Return of Radioactive Waste from the
Reprocessing Plant at La Hague to Foreign Clients, during a press conference
in Paris, on 4 December 1997.
Yet another inconvenience of MOX
Plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel (MOX) is much more expensive than
standard uranium fuel, more complex to use, less safe during reactor
operation, etc... Morover, spent MOX fuel requires much more space in
an underground storage site. According to an official expert committee,
the Permanent Group of Belgian Administration, in a note to the Belgian
government: "The [thermal] power output of [spent] MOX assemblies is
four times higher than that of UO2 [uranium oxide] assemblies. MOX fuel
containers therefore reach higher temperatures, which are close to 200°C.
Consequently, it is envisaged to have only one MOX fuel container per
underground storage section"... instead of the four containers used
for spent uranium oxide fuel. Costly extra space.
Many shipment to come
Whereas the last spent fuel shipment (according to Japanese utility
sources), implicated in current light water reactor fuel reprocessing
contracts between Japanese utilities and the French company COGEMA (the
so-called base-load-customer contracts) left Japan for Europe, the third
"boomerang" transport of high-level radioactive waste left Cherbourg
on 21 January 1998. The special cargo ship transports three casks each
containing 20 canisters of vitrified high-level radioactive waste. For
the first time a ship with this type of radwaste is planned to take
the short cut through the Panama Canal. If the promises of the French
Government and industry representatives come true (see quote of the
month) and all wastes which have been generated by the processing of
foreign spent fuel are to be sent back, then this shipment represents
only the beginning of a series of several hundred shipments of radwaste
to Japan. In fact, while the high active waste contains a large proportion
of the radioactivity, the biggest volumes correspond to low and intermediate
level wastes - which are still to come. Bonne route !
Worsening a bad position
The latest shipment of high-level radioactive waste leaves France for
Japan exactly three months after the Japanese State company Power Reactor
and Nuclear Fuel Development Corp. (PNC) acknowledged on 24 October
1997 that it had omitted to proceed with legally compulsory safety controls
on 93 of the 133 transport casks which were used for the spectacular
shipment of 1.7 metric tons of plutonium from France to Japan aboard
the Akatsuki-maru in 1992-1993. This omission is only one out of some
1,700 problems, of which 13 have broken the law, identified in an internal
PNC report. After a whole series of serious mishaps and accidents, public
confidence in PNC is likely to have waned for ever.