Belgium - Plutonium Investigation n°9

Reprocessing Waste

Reprocessing in France of Belgian spent fuel has produced substantial quantities of radioactive waste. Most of the reprocessing contracts stipulate that the waste is to be sent back to Belgium. Only the 39 MT, which were reprocessed in the UP2 plant, correspond to contracts exempt of a waste return clause. However, French Law stipulates: "The storage of imported radioactive waste in France is prohibited beyond the necessary technical delays due to its reprocessing, even if it has been reprocessed on French territory" [30 December 1991 Act]. This is generally understood as meaning that all the reprocessing waste is to be sent back to the foreign customers after a delay of a few years (certainly less than five) which are required to cool down high and some of the intermediate level waste. Most of the reprocessing waste, which is less active, does not require any cooling period before shipment. Also, French Law does not make a distinction whether there is a return clause or not in the reprocessing contract. However, as of Autumn of 1998, not a gramme of any kind of reprocessing waste has yet been sent back from La Hague to Belgium.

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