The "Return To Sender" Option
The reprocessing contracts between BNFL and its foreign customers contain
a clause which states that BNFL has the "option" to return radioactive
waste, generated through the reprocessing of the customer's spent fuel,
if the waste is in a form suitable for safe transportation and storage.
There is no contractual obligation for BNFL to send back radioactive
waste. However, the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee
(RWMAC) has made it clear it did not accept the disposal of radioactive
waste attributed to foreign customers in the UK*.
BNFL has also stated that if ever it sent back reprocessing waste to
foreign customers, it would not send all the waste, but instead make
a substitution of waste volumes between high and lower radioactive waste.
BNFL is planning to send back a small additional volume of very high
radioactive waste instead of all the different categories of radioactive
waste which are generated through reprocessing (i.e. the so-called low
and intermediate level wastes). The British Government has agreed to
this practice in July 1995, but to the condition a geological disposal
for radioactive waste is chosen and operated as planned. In February
1998, BNFL's chairman John Guinness stated that such a repository might
not be ready before after 2020, this condition would put BNFL "at a
competitive disadvantage with the French, who, we understand, have the
ability to undertake substitution"** . This is a highly questionable
interpretation since the French legislation actually prohibits foreign
waste storage in the country.
* See RWMAC,The Import and Export of Radioactive Waste, September 1997
** Nuclear Fuel, 23 February 1998.
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