Contamination of Spent Fuel Transports
As in the case of French and German nuclear power plants, (see Plutonium
Investigation Transport Special) casks and rail cars carrying
spent fuel from Swiss plants to COGEMA's reprocessing facility at La
Hague were contaminated. According to the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety
Inspectorate HSK, it was informed by the French safety authority DSIN
on 28 April 1998 that casks and rail cars had been identified contaminated
on arrival at the COGEMA terminal at Valognes near La Hague. With the
exception of the Mühleberg boiling-water reactor (BWR), all the
Swiss plants were concerned. According to an HSK representative, neither
casks nor rail cars were contaminated when they left the Swiss power
plants. The same - highly incredible - defence line had been taken by
French and German utilities.
In July 1998, the Swiss Safety Inspectorate, which has forbidden new
transports in the meantime, stated that the licences for new shipments
would be granted once the industry proposed a method to tackle the problem,
and that this approach "will convince" the safety authorities. The representative
said this could last "two or three months". The reasons for the contamination
"are still under study".
However, an empty cask which had arrived at the Leibstadt nuclear power
plant at the beginning of May 1998 shall be sent back - empty - to France.
This transport should enable the analysis of new measuring procedures
and decontamination techniques.
It can be assumed that if the transports are resumed over the next
few months, the transport contamination will not have had a critical
influence on the management of spent fuel at the power plants since
refuelling operations are required about once a year.
to contents To
with reprocessing figures