Shipments of nuclear materials between France and Germany and the reprocessing of MOX fuels from Hanau.
February 14, 2001
It was announced at the Franco-German summit in Strasbourg that some shipments of nuclear materials between France and Germany would resume.
What types of shipments will these be ?
They will be shipments of spent fuel coming to France and shipments of sorted, separated and conditioned residues going back to Germany after reprocessing at the COGEMA La Hague plant. Shipments of the residues back to Germany, where the spent fuel had come from, were halted abruptly by the Germans for political reasons in 1998, two years after they had begun (there had been two shipments up to then).
The contracts with COGEMA, like the 1991 French law on nuclear wastes, clearly stipulate that vitrified wastes must be returned to their country of origin. This happens with Japan and Belgium, for example, which are also having COGEMA reprocess their spent fuel. The French government accordingly informed the German government that no more shipments of spent fuel from Germany could enter France until the shipments of sorted and conditioned wastes to Germany were allowed to resume.
Concretely,what does this mean ?
This agreement is going to mean a return to normal in the contractual relations with German electricity producers in the area of spent-fuel reprocessing-an operation that reduces the volume of wastes by a factor of 5 and their toxicity by a factor of 10, plus allows a large part of the spent fuel to be recycled. The shipment that has been waiting to leave since 1998 will be on its way to Germany as soon as all the official authorizations have been delivered.
Are there other types of nuclear shipments between France and Germany ?
Yes. There are regular shipments of other types between the French and German partners, and they have never been blocked. Only spent fuel and residues have been targeted. The other shipments include new fuel assemblies, which will be loaded in reactors, and uranium that goes into the composition of these fuels.