Belgium - Plutonium Investigation n°9

The Failure of EUROCHEMIC

The Dessel/Mol nuclear has been the site of the Eurochemic reprocessing plant. This plant was the first commercial reprocessing plant in Europe and the first international commercial plutonium project ever. It was built and operated under the responsibility of a consortium of 13 member countries of the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD. It was only operated for eight years, from 1966 to 1974. During this period, it did not reach half of its planned throughput. The total amount of heavy metal separated is 185 tonnes of low-enriched uranium, 1.4 tonnes of high-enriched uranium, and 0.7 tonnes of plutonium. The European nuclear industry decided not to support further operation of the plant because of high operating costs and development of other reprocessing plant projects in countries part of the consortium, notably the launch of the La Hague reprocessing plant in 1976. The decision was taken against the lobbying of Belgian government and industry. Dismantling work has been carried out by Belgoprocess at the Eurochemic plant since 1990. Total cost was planned to be BEF 5 billion in 1992. Complete dismantling is not planned for to be achieved before year 2002.

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