German Plutonium Stockpile Nowhere to Go ?
As of 1 January 1998, Germany had processed 3,376 t of spent fuel at
La Hague (3,552 t as of 1 March 1998) and 56 t at Sellafield. At
an average plutonium content of almost 1% the total amount of German
plutonium produced in France and the UK is roughly 36 t. The total amount
of plutonium produced at the German Karlsruhe plant WAK is 1,164 kg*.
The total amount (leaving minor other sources aside) is therefore about
37 tons. And there is a great deal more to come: current contracts with
Sellafield and La Hague cover an additional 2,116 t plus 2,690 tonnes
contracted for the post-2000 period). The reprocessing of all of this
fuel would lead to an additional 48 t of plutonium.
On the consumption side, the total amount of MOX fuel introduced into
German reactors as of 1 January 1998 is 238.3 t. At an average of about
5% plutonium content, about 12 t of plutonium have thus been reintroduced
into LWRs. An additional ca. 1 t of plutonium has been contributed by
Germany to the first Superphenix core.
In other words, as of January 1998, Germany owned a stockpile of about
24 tonnes of unirradiated plutonium in various forms. If German plutonium
separation was immediately halted, it would take 13 years at the 1997
MOX fuel loading rate of 37.5 t spread over five reactors to absorb
the stock. The full implementation of the existing contracts would stretch
that period by another 25 years to 38 years. And it would still take
almost 20 years if the number of reactors loaded with MOX was doubled
to ten. A brilliant strategy to impose continued operation of the reactors
onto policy makers. Time to talk seriously about plutonium immobilisation
as final waste.
Most of the current stockpile is at La Hague and about two tonnes are
still stored in Germany in a bunker at Hanau. The State of Hesse, which
has not granted the operating licences for the two MOX plants, has negotiated
with the Federal government and Siemens that the Hanau site has to be
cleared of plutonium and dismantled. However, no decision has yet been
taken on the final destination of the material, nor on the form under
which it will be stored.
While some of the fresh Kalkar breeder fuel was transported to Dounreay
in Scotland, about 140 kg of plutonium have been transported without
much public attention during the summer of 1997... back to La Hague.
* W.Weinländer, et al,.,
"Twenty years of WAK reprocessing pilot plant operation"
in RECORD' 91, Proceedings Vol.1, 14-18
April 91, Tokio.
of Plutonium in Germany (33 Ko, Pdf)