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Maritime transport of plutonium oxide from the United States to France

Press release

September 21, 2004

The Pacific Teal and the Pacific Pintail, two UK-registered ships dedicated to the transport of nuclear materials, left Charleston (United States) on Monday, September 20th, at 12.15 pm (local time), and are now travelling to France.

Their journey is part of a program being implemented by the United States Department Of Energy (USDOE) for the disposition of former weapons plutonium, by using it into reactor to generate electricity. The program starts with the manufacturing of 4 nuclear fuel assemblies in France.

In Charleston, the plutonium for these assemblies has been loaded on board, in casks specially designed for the safe and secure transport of plutonium oxide. In France, the plutonium will be fabricated into nuclear fuel at the COGEMA sites of Cadarache and Marcoule.

The shipment, as with all operations in this program, complies with national and international regulations. The shipping company involved has safely transported nuclear material over 4 million nautical miles without a single incident involving the release of radioactivity. The cargo is protected by armed guards throughout its journey and the ships are equipped with naval guns.

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Charles Hufnagel
Patrick Germain
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Vincent Benoit
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Frédéric Potelle
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