Fuel cycle shipments in Europe

18 January 2013

Two major radioactive shipments have taken place in Europe. Used reactor fuel went from Italy to France for reprocessing, while vitrified waste from the same process left the UK to return to Japan.

Both the movements relate to the long term managment of used reactor fuel which is highly radioactive and generates heat, therefore requiring careful management for the long term.

Italy and Japan have chosen to have their reactor fuel reprocessed so that the 96% of uranium and plutonium that can be recycled as fuel is separated from the 4% that is highly radioactive. The work prolongs natural resources and gets waste in a form ready for permanent disposal, albeit at certain extra cost compared to direct disposal.

Areva of France took delivery of 7.37 tonnes of used reactor fuel in two casks from Italy's waste and decommissioinng agency, Societa Gestione Impianti Nucleari (Sogin), on 16 January. This will be taken to the La Hague plant, which also handles all France's used reactor fuel.

The shipment was the 20th in a program agreed in November 2006, covering a total of 235 tonnes of used fuel. Shipments began in 2007 and have moved around 200 tonnes of the material. Areva said it had already reprocessed 190 tonnes of this. The wastes are expected to be shipped back after 2020.

Meanwhile in the UK, the Pacific Grebe left Barrow-in-Furness on 9 January carrying 28 canisters of high-level waste in vitrified glass form. These will arrive in Japan in the second half of February, said a statement from the Sellafield site where the reprocessing was carried out.  The movement is part of a program to return stocks of waste belonging to Japan.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News