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Fifth shipment of vitrified residues to leave Europe for Japan

Press release

November 02, 1999

This shipment comes within the framework of the contracts signed in 1977 and 1978 between ten Japanese electric utilities and COGEMA and BNFL for the reprocessing of Japanese spent nuclear fuel.

This type of shipment follows the completion of several operations which started some 20 years ago :

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

Reprocessing used nuclear fuel recovers 97% of valuable, reusable materials and separates out the remaining 3% which is ultimate waste. The waste is conditioned by turning it into a solid glass form by a process called vitrification. The first return shipment of vitrified residues was carried out in 1995. Three other shipments were performed respectively in 1997, 1998 and 1999. A communications policy - decided and implemented by industrial companies from the three countries involved (France, Japan, and UK) - was set up for each of these operations.

According to this policy, the following information is made available to the public :

  1. The date of departure, name of the vessel and name of the departing port - one or two days before departure.
  2. The route and approximate timing of the ship's arrival in Japan - one day after the ship's departure.
  3. The date of arrival at Mutsu-Ogawara port in Japan - two or three weeks before the arrival of the shipment. The same information will be delivered for the next shipment operation currently under preparation.