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11th return of vitrified residues to Japan

Press release

January 30, 2006

An eleventh shipment of vitrified residues to Japan will leave Cherbourg on February 1st, 2006.

7 casks containing 164 canisters of vitrified residues will be loaded on the Pacific Sandpiper.

Reprocessing used nuclear fuel recovers 97% of valuable, reusable material and separates out the remaining 3%, which is waste. The waste is conditioned by turning it into a solid glass form by a process called vitrification.
This type of shipment follows the completion of different operations and is part of the contracts signed between the Japanese electric utilities, COGEMA and British Nuclear Group for the reprocessing of Japanese spent nuclear fuel:

  • Transport from Japan to Europe of  Japanese spent nuclear fuel,
  • Reprocessing of this fuel in France & in the UK,
  • And finally return shipment to the country of origin of the vitrified residues separated by reprocessing operations.

The first return shipment of vitrified residues was carried out in 1995. Nine others were performed between 1997 and 2005. The three partners (COGEMA, British Nuclear Group and ORC representing the Japanese utilities) have scheduled one shipment of vitrified residues a year, in average, in the forthcoming years.

The reprocessing operations and the shipments of both spent fuel and vitrified residues comply with national and international regulations. The ships transporting the materials have safely covered more than five million miles and there has never been a single incident resulting in the release of radioactivity. In Cherbourg, media and press representatives will be welcomed at the Mercure hotel on February 1st, 20006 at 6:00am (French time) for being transported and accompanied collectively to the harbour loading area.

The route used and the approximate date of arrival to Japan will be released following the departure.

More details on the operations of British Nuclear Group, COGEMA and the transport of nuclear materials can be gained by accessing the following websites:

COGEMA contact :
Mrs Laurence Pernot 
+33 2 33 02 63 22
Mr Michel Hartenstein
+33 1 39 48 72 82 or +33 6 08 76 16 76