Where To Go Now ?
The Swiss nuclear industry realized long ago that reprocessing and
the subsequent plutonium programme was not the best choice concerning
the management of spent fuel. The head of the Zwilag waste interim storage
facility stated in 1994: "Using uranium and plutonium from reprocessing
in Light Water Reactors is not currently economically interesting. In
fact, the forecasted depletion of uranium supplies did not happen, and
the price of natural uranium is low. Reprocessing is revealing itself
technically more demanding than what was thought initially."
More recently, the Federal Government replied the following to a written
question by Mr Chiffelle concerning air transport of MOX fuel rods:
"In the framework of the complete remodelling of the atomic law, there
are reasons to reconsider if and under what conditions reprocessing
and/or the transport of spent fuel rods [...] can continue to be accepted".
This reply was quoted at the beginning of 1998 by Herbert Bay, head
of the fuel department at the NOK electricity utility and nuclear operator.
Since many questions are raised concerning the usefulness and the cost
of the reprocessing and plutonium programmes in Switzerland, it is quite
surprising that the Government does not (officially) analyse the conditions
for disengaging the utilities from the reprocessing contracts. Economic
and environmental aspects should be thoroughly analysed, and decisions
subsequently made. It is quite clear that a governmental decision forbidding
the continuation of the contracts or an equivalent amendment to the
nuclear law would help the utilities to get out of the contracts since
this could be used as a "force majeure" justification towards the British
and French reprocessing companies.
of plutonium in Switzerland ( Pdf format, 19 Ko)