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Uranium Enrichment and Fuel Fabrication - Current Issues (Europe)

(last updated 9 Sep 2017)

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BELGIUM   flag


FBFC Dessel nuclear fuel plant

Areva announces closure of FBFC Dessel nuclear fuel plant

On Oct. 25, 2011, the entreprise FBFC (Franco-Belge de Fabrication du Combustible) announced its intention to close its Dessel plant due to a decrease of demand in Western Europe and an over-capacity on the market. The plant currently has 180 employees. Most of the activities will be stopped by March 2012. Only the MOX department with some auxiliary services will be maintained until 2015. (RTBF Oct. 25, 2011)

Rumors growing that Areva plans closure of FBFC Dessel nuclear fuel plant

According to the Internet site L'Expansion, Areva plans to close the FBFC nuclear fuel plant in Dessel as part of a massive restructuring program that is to be set up in reaction to a drop in demand caused by the German nuclear phase-out and the Fukushima disaster. (Le Monde Oct. 18, 2011)


CZECH REPUBLIC   flag


Světlá nad Sázavou nuclear fuel manufacturing plant project

After encountering first opposition, company abstains from plan to build nuclear fuel plant in Světlá nad Sázavou: After withdrawing from Bystřice nad Pernštejnem, the company UJP Praha today also decided to leave the town Světlá. It does not want to promote their project where people are against it from the beginning. Residents had already begun to organize petitions and to protest loudly. (ČT24 Feb. 17, 2015)
UJP Praha is now looking for another location to build the plant. (iDNES Feb. 18, 2015)

After defeat in local referendum at Bystřice nad Pernštejnem, nuclear fuel plant project now moves on to Světlá nad Sázavou: The company UJP Praha, which is the successor of the former Institute of Nuclear Fuels, expressed interest in eight hectares of land in the industrial zone in Světlá nad Sázavou. By 2020, it wants to build there a plant that would produce fuel assemblies for nuclear power plants. (denik.cz Feb. 6, 2015)
[This is developing into a classic example of nuclear plant siting: Bystřice nad Pernštejnem apparently was chosen, because the only operating uranium mine in the country (Rožná) is nearby, so the people of the area are used to processing of uranium in their neighbourhood. Moreover, the ore deposit is almost depleted, so new employment opportunities are welcome. After the people of Bystřice nevertheless rejected the new plant in a referendum, the company searched for a victim in distress and found it in the town of Světlá nad Sázavou. This town had laid out an industrial estate, but failed to attract enterprises to settle there. The town thus is obliged to return the CZK 30 million (US$ 1.23 million) grant obtained from the Ministry of Finance for the development of the site, ...unless it finds an investor such as UJP Praha.]

 

Bystřice nad Pernštejnem nuclear fuel manufacturing and depleted uranium metal processing plant project

Opposition to the project: Bystřice bez radiace

Bystřice nad Pernštejnem nuclear fuel plant project turned down in local referendum: 80% of the voters in a local referendum on the nuclear fuel plant project at Bystřice nad Pernštejnem voted against the project. 52% of the eligible voters participated in the referendum, thus meeting the 35% quorum. The vote against the project is legally binding. (iDNES.cz Oct. 11, 2014)

Local referendum to be held on nuclear fuel plant project proposed at Bystřice nad Pernštejnem: The City Hall of Bystřice has announced that a local referendum on UJP's nuclear fuel plant project will be held in autumn. (iDNES.cz June 20, 2014)

Local councilors reject sale of land for nuclear fuel plant project at Bystřice nad Pernštejnem: Local councilors last week rejected the sale of the land on which the company conducting business in the nuclear sector wanted to build its new plant. (5plus2.cz March 28, 2014)

Company presents proposal for nuclear fuel manufacturing and depleted uranium metal processing plant project at Bystřice nad Pernštejnem: The company UJP PRAHA a.s. proposes to construct a nuclear fuel manufacturing and depleted uranium metal processing plant at Bystřice nad Pernštejnem.
> Download Project proposal , Dec. 9, 2013 (905k PDF - in Czech)

TVEL wants to build nuclear fuel plant in the Czech Republic: The Russian company TVEL wants to build a nuclear fuel fabrication plant in the Czech Republic. TVEL is part of the state holding company Rosatom. (CT24 Oct. 13, 2009)


EUROPEAN UNION   flag

EU plans to exempt nuclear fuel processing from carbon dioxide emissions trading scheme

Processing of nuclear fuel has been granted an exemption from European Union (EU) plans to auction carbon dioxide emissions allowances from 2013, although the exemption list will be reviewed before 2010. Brussels unveiled on 18 September a draft list of industrial and business sectors it fears could relocate outside Europe to jurisdictions with weaker climate change rules in future. Among these was the 'processing of nuclear fuel', which will be given carbon emission allowances under the EU's emissions trading scheme from 2013 to 2020.
Most nuclear activities, including the generation of nuclear power, waste management and the reprocessing and recycling of used nuclear fuel will still have to purchase allowances, including uranium and thorium ore mining. (WNN Sep. 24, 2009)
> View European Commission press release Sep. 18, 2009
> View European Commission: Carbon leakage
> View European Commission: Emission Trading System (EU ETS)

 

Euratom Supply Agency concerned about enrichment capacities available for EU utilities from 2010

"The period from 2010 to 2013 could be very sensitive regarding the balance between enrichment services demand and offer, due to the transition between the shut down of gazeous diffusion plants and their replacement by new gazeous centrifugation capacities. Some concerns may appear during this period.
The Agency is concerned about the situation from 2013 onwards, even if European enricher companies said they will not be facing major capacity problems in meeting the requirements from European utilities."

Survey of enrichment requirements and capacity and their contractual coverage , Euratom Supply Agency, European Commission, 8 April 2008 (PDF)

 

European Commission considers revision of legislation for transport of radioactive materials

Launching by the European Commission of an Impact Assessment (IA) for the evaluation of a potential legislative measure in the area of Transport of Radioactive Materials (TRAM)
> View details

The closing date for the submission of opinions is 28 January 2008.

 

European Court of Justice denies Euratom jurisdiction over foreign uranium subject to contract enrichment

> View: C-123/04, Judgment of 12/09/2006, Industrias Nucleares do Brasil and Siemens (European Court of Justice)


FRANCE   flag

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THE NETHERLANDS   flag


Urenco Almelo uranium enrichment plant

Map: Google Maps

> See also: DU exports of Urenco's Almelo enrichment facility
> See also: Depleted uranium storage at COVRA radioactive waste facility (The Netherlands)

 

Dutch whistleblower who warned against Pakistani atomic spy wants reparation

Whistleblower Frits Veerman, who revealed the great atomic espionage in the 1970s, gets to the House for Whistleblowers. He wants reparation and compensation because he feels that the Dutch government has treated him badly and unjust.
Veerman warned forty years ago in vain against the Pakistani spy Abdul Khan. Khan turned out to have stolen sensitive information from Urenco, a producer of enriched uranium. Veerman lost his job, and his career was over.
The law on the House for Whistleblowers took effect July 1, 2016. This law protects and helps employees who want to report wrongdoing in the public interest. (NOS Oct. 9, 2016)

Small fire in recycling center of Urenco Almelo enrichment plant

"On the morning of August 3, 2016, around 08:45 hours, a fire occurred in an induction dryer in the Recycling Center of URENCO Netherlands. In the induction dryer was a vessel with filter residue from a cleaning unit. Such filter residues may contain low-level radioactive material. The safety systems have functioned well and the fire brigade was immediately alerted. After a joint action of the internal emergency response team and the Fire Department the small fire was extinguished and around 09:30 under control. There is no personal injury. Measurements have shown that there has been no radioactive release." (Urenco Aug. 3, 2016)

Urenco Almelo (and Gronau) may export natural uranium to Russia

The Dutch nuclear safety authority ANVS has issued a license to nuclear transport company DAHER Nuclear Technologies GmbH of Hanau, Germany, for the transport of 1000 t natural and depleted uranium hexafluoride between Urenco's Almelo and Gronau sites and Russia.
> Download ANVS license, Nov. 6, 2015 (652k PDF)
According to answers received by Laka, the references to depleted uranium are "textual errors" - the license is only meant for the transport of natural uranium. The license allows Urenco to send natural uranium to Russia for enrichment in case of capacity bottlenecks.

Dutch regulator issues odd license for transport of uranium hexafluoride feed and tails between Urenco's Gronau plant in Germany and its Almelo plant in the Netherlands - additional traffic to be caused for re-enrichment of depleted uranium?

On Sep. 25, 2015, the Dutch radiation protection authority ANVS issued a transport license to Nuclear Cargo+Service GmbH for the transport of up to 125 tonnes of uranium hexafluoride of natural isotope composition (feed) or depleted uranium (tails) between Urenco's enrichment plants in Gronau (Germany) and Almelo (Netherlands) - both ways.
> Download ANVS licence, Sep. 25, 2015 (602k PDF - in Dutch)
[The purpose of these transports is currently unclear, but it might be related to the re-enrichment of depleted uranium. In its 2014 Annual Report, Urenco mentions provisions made for the re-enrichment of low assay feed back to the assay of natural uranium.]

Small release of enriched UF6 in production hall of Urenco Almelo enrichment plant

On 27 August, an incident took place in a production hall of uranium enrichment plant SP5. There were no personal injuries. There was a limited increase in the measurement of low radioactive material in the ventilation system on the roof of SP5.
The incident took place in a support system in the feed- & take-off, the area where we flow the enriched uranium produced by our centrifuges to transport cylinders. The production hall where the incident took place, has been taken out of operation in a controlled manner. (Urenco Aug. 27, 2015)
On Oct. 23, 2015, Urenco Nederland has restarted production capacity that was paused as a result of the incident that took place on 27 August 2015. The investigation into the technical cause of the incident has been concluded and reported to the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS). This investigation was conducted by URENCO, under supervision of the ANVS and with input from independent bodies. It has been concluded that the incident was caused by a chemical reaction as a result of a build-up of fluorine in a filter with trapping material. (Urenco Oct. 23, 2015)
On Mar. 25, 2016, Urenco Nederland restarted the remaining production capacity which had been paused following the incident that occurred on 27 August 2015. Affected areas inside the enrichment plant have been cleaned extensively and installations and systems have been checked and reinstalled. The Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS) has approved restart of production. (Urenco Mar. 25, 2016)

Watchdog demands State Council to stop uranium transports to Urenco Almelo enrichment plant in view of ban on transports for speculation with uranium

The recent disclosure of storage of uranium hexafluoride at Urenco's Almelo enrichment plant for speculative purposes has led the anti-nuclear watchdog LAKA to demand the State Council to stop uranium transports to the plant in view of the existing ban on transports for speculation with uranium. (LAKA Apr. 22, 2015)
The State Council dismissed LAKA's appeal on May 4, 2016. (LAKA May 4, 2016)
> View State Council judgment May 4, 2016 (in Dutch)

Goldman Sachs stored unenriched uranium hexafluoride at Urenco Almelo enrichment plant

> View Goldman Sachs to wind down uranium trading business - after U.S. Senate report sheds some light on it, raising a number of issues

Capacity of Urenco's Almelo enrichment plant decreases

According to Urenco's Annual Report and Accounts 2013 , the capacity of its Almelo (Netherlands) enrichment plant decreased from 5.5 million SWU in 2012 to 5.4 million SWU in 2013.

Enrichment Technology Company dismisses one third of staff at Almelo

Urenco's centrifuge manufacturing subsidiary Enrichment Technology Company is planning to reduce its current workforce of 800 by 240 at its Almelo facility. (RTV Oost Oct. 2, 2013)

Gas release causes death of two workers from asphyxiation in centrifuge manufacturing plant at Urenco Almelo site - production at all ETC sites stopped

Two men died in an accident at the Enrichment Technology Company (ETC) in Almelo. On March 29, 2013, a release of the noble gas argon caused the asphyxiation of two workers; one of them died the same day, the other on April 2. ETC is a joint venture of Urenco with Areva for the development and production of gas centrifuges and the design of complete uranium enrichment plants. (Westfälische Nachrichten Apr. 2, 2013)
Enrichment Technologies, which is jointly owned by Areva and Urenco, said on Wednesday (Apr. 3) it had shut facilities in five countries after two workers died from their injuries in an accident at its Dutch plant last week. (Reuters Apr. 3, 2013)
Meanwhile, production has resumed at the ETC facilities in France and in the UK. (Westfälische Nachrichten Apr. 4, 2013)

Enrichment Technology Netherlands (ETNL) in Almelo will be fined 50,000 Euros after an accident as a result of which two people deceased. The two men choked when cleaning an oven. The company, owned by Urenco and Areva, develops among other centrifuges to enrich uranium for nuclear power plants. In the accident, on March 29, 2013, two employees climbed in an oven, which was not examined for the presence of argon gas. That would have had to happen. The company thereby neglected its duty of care. Due to lack of oxygen, the two men suffocated. (Laka Mar. 8, 2016)

Uranium Action Day protests in Almelo

At the occasion of the International Uranium Action Day, about 50 people gathered in the downtown of Almelo on September 29, 2012, to protest against uranium mining and enrichment. (LAKA Oct. 1, 2012)

Permit issued for storage building for uranium hexafluoride at Urenco Almelo enrichment plant

On Aug. 10, 2012, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation issued a permit for the construction of a storage building for natural and depleted uranium hexafluoride at Urenco's Almelo enrichment plant.
Complaints can be lodged by September 21, 2012.
> Download Announcement Aug. 13, 2012 (in Dutch)

Protests at opening ceremony for expansion of Urenco Almelo uranium enrichment plant

On June 7, 2012, Dutch crown prince Willem-Alexander opened the new production hall of uranium enricher Urenco in Almelo. The action group Vedan used the opening to protest against nuclear energy. (Twentsche Courant Tubantia June 7, 2012)

Urenco Almelo enrichment plant obtains license for capacity increase to 6.2 million SWU per year

On Oct. 31, 2011, the Dutch Ministry of Economics informed intervenors that it has licensed the requested capacity increase.
> Download Ministry of Economics announcement, Nov. 2, 2011: Dutch version · German version

Public comment invited on draft decision for capacity increase of Urenco Almelo enrichment plant to 6.2 million SWU per year

On June 29, 2011, the Dutch Ministry of Economics issed a draft decision for the capacity increase of Urenco's Almelo enrichment plant from 4.95 to 6.2 million SWU per year.
Comments are invited by August 10, 2011.
> Download related government documents (in Dutch)

Public comment invited on EIS for capacity increase of Urenco Almelo enrichment plant to 6.2 million SWU per year

Comments have to be submitted by March 30, 2011.
> View Vergunningprocedure Urenco om verrijkingscapaciteit te verhogen , Feb. 17, 2011 (in Dutch - Ministerie van Economische Zaken, Landbouw en Innovatie)
> Download Environmental Impact Statement (in Dutch)

Dutch Ministry of Environment issues EIS scoping document for capacity increase of Urenco Almelo enrichment plant to 6.2 million SWU per year for comment

The scoping document for an environmental impact statement for an capacity increase of Urenco's Almelo enrichment plant to 6.2 million SWU per year is open for public comment.
On March 2, 2010, Urenco has lodged a request to increase the capacity of its Almelo enrichment plant from 4.95 to 6.2 million SWU per year.
Comments are invited by May 19, 2010.
> View Dutch Ministry of Environment announcement, April 7, 2010 (in Dutch)

Urenco Almelo enrichment plant applies for capacity increase to 4.95 million SWU per year

Urenco has lodged a request to increase the capacity of its Almelo enrichment plant from 4.5 to 4.95 million SWU per year.
Comments are invited by September 15, 2009.
> View Dutch Ministry of Environment announcement (in Dutch)

Urenco Almelo enrichment plant reaches capacity of 4 million SWU per year

On 31 March 2009 Urenco announced that the enrichment site in Almelo reached the milestone of 4 million SW/a capacity when the 6th cascade of SP5 hall 5 came online.

Explosion in centrifuge manufacturing plant at Urenco Almelo site

At approx. 22:30 on July 23, 2008, an explosion occured at the centrifuge manufacturing plant of Urenco's subsidiary ETC at Almelo. The approx. 25 employees present in the shop evacuated the building without problems. (NU.nl July 24, 2008)

Dutch Ministry discloses more details on depleted uranium disposition of Urenco's Almelo enrichment plant

On Jan. 22, 2008, the Dutch Ministry of Environment (VROM), in an answer to a parliamentary question, disclosed the transport statistics of the depleted uranium generated at Urenco's Almelo enrichment plant. The data includes the exports of depleted uranium to Russia (for re-enrichment), and to France (for conversion to U3O8).
> View details

Dutch Ministry discloses details on depleted uranium disposition of Urenco's Almelo enrichment plant

On Nov. 27, 2007, the Dutch Ministry of Environment (VROM), in an answer to a parliamentary question, disclosed the following information on the disposition of the depleted uranium generated at Urenco's Almelo enrichment plant: > Download Beantwoording Kamervragen lid Poppe 2070802570 over transport van kernafval (MS Word, in Dutch)

U.S. NRC issues export license for enrichment of Chinese origin uranium at Urenco's European plants

> View here

Further capacity increase to 4500 t SWU planned for Urenco's Almelo enrichment plant

On Oct. 15, 2007, Ministerie van VROM issued the requested license amendment. The amendment can be appealed before the Raad van State until Dec. 5, 2007.

On June 28, 2007, Ministerie van VROM released the draft license amendment allowing for the increase of the licensed capacity of the Almelo enrichment plant from 3500 t SWU to 4500 t SWU for public comment.

On Oct. 19, 2006, Urenco filed the license application and an environmental assessment for the increase of the licensed capacity of its Almelo enrichment plant from 3500 t SWU to 4500 t SWU. On Nov. 29, 2006, Ministerie van VROM invited public comments on the environmental assessment.

In January 2006, Urenco Nederland B.V. began preparing an environmental assessment for a further increase of the licensed capacity of its Almelo enrichment plant from 3500 t SWU to 4500 t SWU. The comment period has been opened.

Further capacity increase to 3500 t SWU planned for Almelo enrichment plant

On July 13, 2005, the comment period on the revised "Ontwerpbeschikking" for the project was opened.
> View details (NENO - in Dutch)
> Download Sammeleinspruchslisten in Deutsch (BBU e.V. - Collective comment forms in German)

A new public participation process was started in Feb. 2005.

On Oct. 27, 2004, the Dutch Council of State (Raad van State ) declared the license for the capacity increase null and void. The decision was based on an irregularity in the public involvement process: the draft licence had only been published in the official journal and in local newspapers, but the residents living near the plant had not been notified individually. The licensing process therefore has to be repeated. (Gronauer Nachrichten Oct. 27, 2004)
> View Council of State decision Oct. 27, 2004 (in Dutch)
This decision came in response to a complaint filed by Dutch environmental groups:
> View Milieudefensie news release Oct. 27, 2004 (in Dutch)

The requested capacity increase was licensed on Feb. 23, 2004.

A hearing was held on August 19, 2003.

On May 23, 2003, Urenco Nederland B.V. has submitted an application for a further increase of the licensed capacity of its Almelo enrichment plant from 2800 t SWU to 3500 t SWU. Early in 2003, the licensed capacity had already been increased from 2500 to 2800 t SWU. (Gronauer Nachrichten Aug. 6, 2003)


 


GERMANY   flag


General

Nuclear fuel facilities in Germany robust against natural forces, government report finds - but effects of chemical toxicity excluded from scope of study

The Nuclear Waste Management Commission (Entsorgungskommission - ESK) that advises Germany's federal environment ministry, has released its report on the robustness of the German nuclear fuel cycle facilities against natural forces, such as earthquakes, floodings, strong winds, strong precipitation events, etc., and other accidental events, such as loss of power, fire, plane crash, and explosions. The report had been commissioned in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster.
The scope of the study was limited to accidental events - planned attacks on the plants were not considered. Furthermore, the scope was limited to radiological impacts, explicitly excluding effects of chemical toxicity: this constitutes a serious limitation for the Gronau enrichment plant, in particular, where the large open uranium hexafluoride cylinder yards represent a massive toxicity hazard.
The report finds that both the Urenco Gronau enrichment plant and the ANF Lingen nuclear fuel fabrication plant can withstand most of the stress factors considered, while events they cannot withstand are rated highly unlikely. The impact of accidental plane crashs remains unclear, in particular for the Gronau plant.
> Download: Stellungnahme der Entsorgungskommission, ESK-Stresstest für Anlagen und Einrichtungen der Ver- und Entsorgung in Deutschland, Teil 1: Anlagen der Brennstoffversorgung, Zwischenlager für bestrahlte Brennelemente und Wärme entwickelnde radioaktive Abfälle, Anlagen zur Behandlung bestrahlter Brennelemente, 14. März 2013 (1.4MB PDF - in German)

Protests in Germany delay MOX fuel transport from Sellafield

Police cleared several sit-down demonstrations in Nordenham, where the vessel "Atlantic Osprey" arrived in the afternoon. At the Grohnde nuclear power plant, the destination of the MOX fuel transport, protesters formed several blockades, as well. (Der Spiegel Nov. 18, 2012)

Protests in Germany against next MOX fuel transport from Sellafield

On Nov. 3, 2012, hundreds of activists protested in Nordenham, where a second sea transport of Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel will arrive from Sellafield (UK), and near the Grohnde nuclear plant, the final destination of the transport. (Radio Bremen Nov. 3, 2012)

 

Centrifuge builder Enrichment Technology cuts down workforce, due to "market saturation"

Uranium enrichment centrifuge builder Enrichment Technology Company Ltd. , a joint venture of Urenco and Areva, cuts down the workforce at all of its sites worldwide. The company expects the cutback of hundreds of its currently 2000 employees worldwide. This concerns also the site in Jülich, Germany, with currently 500 employees. It is feared that 100 positions might be eliminated by end 2014. The company cites market saturation and the impacts of the Fukushima disaster as the causes for the cutbacks. (Aachener Zeitung Oct. 4, 2012)
At its Gronau, Germany, site, the company plans to eliminate more than 100 positions. (Westfälische Nachrichten Mar. 7, 2013)

 

Protests in Germany against arrival of MOX fuel transport from Sellafield

For the first time since the end of the 1980s, a sea transport of Mixed Oxid (MOX) fuel has arrived in Germany. The "Atlantic Osprey" brought eight fuel elements from Sellafield (UK) to Nordenham. From there, they were trucked to E.on's Grohnde nuclear power plant near Hameln.
The vessel was escorted by police ships, and Greenpeace boats drove around it. Protesters awaited the ship - in rubber dinghies and kayaks on the river Weser, and at the quayside in Nordenham.
Another transport of eight more MOX fuel elements is expected within the next few weeks. (Der Spiegel Sep. 23, 2012)

 

German nuclear power plants silently use fuel made from recycled uranium and Russian military HEU

According to confidential documents of the nuclear industry, German nuclear power plants have been using fuel elements made from recycled uranium of West European origin, mixed with highly enriched uranium from Russian military sources since the year 2000. The fuel elements were produced in a plant located near Moscow [apparently the TVEL Elektrostal plant] and were used in the Obrigheim, Neckarwestheim, Brokdorf, Unterweser, and Gundremmingen nuclear power plants.
The total amount of military material used is at least 100 t, comprising nuclear weapons material and material from nuclear submarines. One thousand fuel elements containing military uranium have been used in German power plants at least, and most likely another 500. The operation is still ongoing, with the use of another 180 fuel elements being planned. (Süddeutsche Zeitung Sep. 15, 2012)

Note: Euratom's annual statistics reveal the delivery of HEU feed to EU utilities since 2003.

 

Investigation into alleged proliferation of centrifuge technology to Libya

The German Chief Federal Prosecutor is investigating the role of two Germans in the proliferation of uranium enrichment centrifuge technology to Libya. (Generalbundesanwalt Aug. 26, 2004)

 

No phase out for German nuclear fuel industry

The agreement on the phase out of nuclear energy production concluded between the German government and the utilites on June 14, 2000, does not mention the nuclear fuel facilities, such as the Urenco Gronau enrichment plant, or the ANF Lingen fuel fabrication plant.
The agreement is available from the Federal Environmental Ministry .

 

Urenco Gronau enrichment plant

Aerial view: Google Maps

> See also: DU exports of Urenco's Gronau enrichment facility · Upgrading of Urenco's enrichment tails in Russia
> See also: Urenco's Depleted Uranium Storage Project (Germany)

Uranium enrichment at Gronau is opposed by AKU Gronau .

 

Urenco swaps depleted uranium between Gronau (Germany) and Capenhurst (UK) plants

In 2016, Urenco has swapped 10,100 t of depleted U3O8, resulting from the de-conversion (in France) of 12,700 t of depleted UF6 (tails) originating from its Gronau enrichment plant, for depleted UF6 (tails) from its Capenhurst (UK) plant for re-enrichment. (Westfälische Nachrichten Jul. 21, 2017)
According to the answer of the German federal government to a parliamentary question, the re-enrichment is to take place in Capenhurst. The material in question has an assay of 0.227% U-235. (Bundestags-Drucksache 18/13402 , 24 Aug 2017).

250 Easter March participants demonstrate against Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant

At the occasion of the Gronau Easter March, about 250 people participated in a demonstration against Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant on April 14, 2017. (Westfälische Nachrichten Apr. 14, 2017)

272 uranium hexafluoride transports to and from Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant in 2016

> See here

German Ministry to commission study on legal requirements for shutdown of Urenco Gronau enrichment plant

The German Federal Ministry of the Environment has confirmed that this spring, the legal requirements for the closure of Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant will have to be examined by a legal expert. (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Feb. 24, 2017)

German government discloses export licenses issued in 2011 - 2015 for enriched uranium from Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant

> View here

German Federal Minister of Environment prepared to discuss demand for shutdown of Urenco Gronau enrichment plant

In a letter to Northrhine-Westphalia state minister of environment Johannes Remmel, federal environment minister Barbara Hendricks wrote that she is prepared to discuss his demand for a shutdown of Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant which is not part of Germany's nuclear phase-out plan. There is, however, no common position among the members of the federal government on this issue, and the plant has obtained an unlimited license in 2005, she adds. (Rheinische Post July 28, 2016)

Blockade of Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant

On July 11, 2016, 5:00 AM approx. 20 anti-nuclear activists started a blockade of both access roads to Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant. The rear entrance was later cleared by police. (SOFA Münster/WDR July 11, 2016)
Police ended the blockade after 36 hours on July 12 at approx. 5 PM. (Westfälische Nachrichten July 12, 2016)

State environmental minister adopts environmentalists' demand for shutdown of Urenco Gronau enrichment plant

Johannes Remmel, Northrhine-Westphalia state minister of environment, calls for the shutdown of Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant, given that it continues to deliver enriched uranium for Belgium's ailing nuclear reactors of Tihange and Doel. (Westfälische Nachrichten June 14, 2016)

150 Easter March participants demonstrate against Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant

At the occasion of the Gronau Easter March, about 150 people participated in a demonstration against Urenco's enrichment plant. (Westfälische Nachrichten Mar. 25, 2016)

State discloses list of uranium hexafluoride transports to and from Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant in 2015

> View here

German Greens demand closure of Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant by 2022

On Nov. 21, 2015, a federal party conference of the German Greens supported a motion demanding the closure of Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant. The plant is not covered by Germany's nuclear phase-out plan. (Westfälische Nachrichten Nov. 23, 2015)

Dutch regulator issues odd license for transport of uranium hexafluoride feed and tails between Urenco's Gronau plant in Germany and its Almelo plant in the Netherlands - additional traffic to be caused for re-enrichment of depleted uranium?

> View here

Protest at the occasion of 30th anniversary of Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant

On Aug. 15, 2015, about 100 people attended a rally held in Gronau at the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Urenco's enrichment plant. The rally included a performance by the group Orden der Atomianer , drawing attention to the problem of how to communicate the hazards of nuclear waste repositories to future generations. (Westfälische Nachrichten Aug. 17, 2015)

300 protest against Urenco sale at Gronau enrichment plant site

During the Easter march on April, 3, 2015, about 300 people participated in a demonstration at Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant site. They warned against the proposed sale of Urenco. (Westfälische Nachrichten Apr. 3, 2015)

189 uranium hexafluoride transports to and from Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant in 2014

> View here

Activists block rail siding of Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant in protest against planned storage of depleted uranium oxide

> View here

More than 12,000 t of depleted uranium hexafluoride from Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant deconverted at Areva's Usine W plant (France)

> View here

Easter march participants protest against Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant and proliferation hazard from proposed sale of Urenco

On Apr. 18, 2014, 350 participants held an Easter march at Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant. Speakers pointed out the hazards from the toxic uranium hexafluoride processed at the plant, the planned long-term storage of depleted uranium at the site, the impacts of uranium mining to get at the uranium in the first place, and the proliferation hazard from the proposed sale of Urenco. (Westfälische Nachrichten Apr. 18, 2014)

Uranium hexafluoride transports across Baltic Sea on passenger ferries

> View here

Capacity of Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant decreases

According to Urenco's Annual Report and Accounts 2013 , the capacity of its Gronau (Germany) enrichment plant decreased from 4.2 million SWU in 2012 to 4.1 million SWU in 2013.

State Government discloses latest uranium hexafluoride transport statistics from/to Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant

> Download: Antwort der Landesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage 1955 vom 5. Februar 2014, des Abgeordneten Hanns-Jörg Rohwedder PIRATEN, Drucksache 16/4951, Atomtransporte durch NRW 2013 , Landtag Nordrhein-Westfalen, Drucksache 16/5200, 07.03.2014

Blockade of Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant

Since 4:30 AM the main access road to Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant is blocked by anti-nuclear activists. (Westfälische Nachrichten July 22, 2013)

State Government discloses uranium hexafluoride transport statistics from/to Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant

> Download: Antwort der Landesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage 1264 vom 21. Mai 2013 des Abgeordneten Hanns-Jörg Rohwedder PIRATEN, Drucksache 16/3023, Atomtransporte von und zur Urananreicherungsanlage Gronau in 2012/13 , Landtag Nordrhein-Westfalen, Drucksache 16/3380, 24.06.2013 (830k PDF)

1000 join protest at Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant

On March 9, 2013, approx. 1000 participants held a demonstration at the Gronau enrichment plant, demanding the closure of the plant in view of the Fukushima disaster and the German nuclear phase-out policy. (WDR Mar. 9, 2013)
> View photo album (anti atom aktuell)

Groups demand larger no-fly zone around Gronau enrichment plant

Anti-nuclear activists and environmentalists demand a larger no-fly zone around Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant. The current zone comprises only an altitude of 600 metres and a distance of 1.5 kilometres.
A court had recently ruled that an altitude of 2600 metres and a distance of 3 kilometres is not sufficient for the Wannsee nuclear research reactor near Berlin. (Westfälische Nachrichten Feb. 14, 2013)

Uranium Action Day protests in Gronau

At the occasion of the International Uranium Action Day, about 100 people gathered in the downtown of Gronau on September 29, 2012. Protesting against uranium mining and enrichment, they formed a human chain between two banks involved in nuclear projects. (SOFA Münster Oct. 1, 2012)

Urenco: Gronau enrichment plant passes "stress test"

According to Urenco, the so-called "stress test" confirmed that the plant can withstand events even beyond its design criteria, such as plane crashs, earthquakes, floodings, fires, and loss of offsite power. In no case would the effective radiation dose to any person be higher than 50 Millisieverts - the standard applicable to accident scenarios, according to the German radiation protection regulations (Strahlenschutzverordnung). The full report has been submitted to the Federal Ministry of Environment. (Westfälische Nachrichten Aug. 28, 2012)
> Download Stress test results , March 14, 2013 (BMUB - in German)

Protests halt train carrying depleted uranium hexafluoride from Gronau (Germany) to France for deconversion

In the afternoon of July 30, 2012, activists stopped all rail traffic at Metelen, preventing the passing of a train carrying depleted uranium hexafluoride from Gronau (Germany) to France for deconversion. Two activists had chained themselves to the tracks, while others protested by abseiling from trees above the rail line. (Westfälische Nachrichten July 30, 2012)
On July 31, 2012, activists blocked the access road to the enrichment plant. (Westfälische Nachrichten July 31, 2012)

Smoldering fire in switchbox at Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant

On June 7, 2012, a smoldering fire occured in a switchbox at the Gronau enrichment plant. The fire was automatically detected and extinguished. According to Urenco, the switchbox was implemented in multiple instances, allowing for a continued safe operation of the plant. No risks had to be expected for the employees or the environment, as there were no radioactivity present in the area concerned. (Westfälische Nachrichten June 8, 2012)

Protest against train carrying depleted uranium hexafluoride from Gronau (Germany) to France for deconversion

On June 4, 2012, around 10 people held a spontaneous protest at the Münster main station against a train crossing the station. The train carried depleted uranium hexafluoride and was on its way from Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant to Areva's Usine W plant at Tricastin, France, where the depleted UF6 is to be deconverted to U3O8 to make it better suitable for long-term storage. (SOFA Münster June 4, 2012)

Activists stop train carrying depleted uranium hexafluoride from Gronau to France for deconversion

On May 7, 2012, between approx. 13 h and 20 h, activists stopped a train carrying approx. 450 t of depleted uranium hexafluoride near Münster by abseiling above the rail track. The train was on its way from Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant to Areva's Usine W plant at Tricastin, France, where the depleted UF6 is to be deconverted to U3O8 to make it better suitable for long-term storage. (SOFA Münster May 7, 2012)
The action entailed a complete closure of the railway line Münster - Altenberge, leaving thousands of commuters stranded. The substitute bus service provided could not meet the demand.
> View live ticker of Münstersche Zeitung (including photos) (in German)
> View more photos (anti-atom-aktuell)

Areva Richland nuclear fuel plant receives non-compliant cylinder with enriched UF6 from Urenco Gronau

> View here

More than 2000 at demonstration against Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant

On the anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, at least 2000 people held an anti-nuclear demonstration at the Gronau enrichment plant. (Westfälische Nachrichten Mar. 11, 2012)

Study sheds light on nuclear transports in Germany, in particular transports of uranium hexafluoride

> View here

Greens demand change of nuclear law to limit life of Urenco Gronau enrichment plant

Greens are demanding a change of German nuclear law to limit the life of the Gronau enrichment plant and Lingen nuclear fuel plant. The nuclear phase out only covers the nuclear reactors in the country, while the other nuclear facilities have unlimited licenses. An expertise elaborated by the scientific service of the Bundestag (lower chamber of Federal Parliament) showed that these license cannot be limited afterwards, unless the nuclear law is changed. (Westfälische Nachrichten Aug. 18, 2011)

Germany orders "stress test" for Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant

According to the answer of the Federal Ministry of Environment to a parliamentary question, the German government now has ordered so-called "stress tests" also for nuclear facilities other than power reactors, such as the Gronau enrichment plant, the Lingen nuclear fuel fabrication plant, research reactors, and the facilities for interim storage of spent fuel. As with the power reactors, the stress tests are to evaluate the hazards from plane crashes, earthquakes, oder power outages. (WAZ Aug. 9, 2011)

Small release of uranium hexafluoride in Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant

On July 23, 2011, a small release of uranium hexafluoride occured in an autoclave in the Gronau enrichment plant. UF6 concentrations in room air remained below acceptable limits. (Ministerium Bauen und Verkehr des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, July 25, 2011)

Another blockade of Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant

On July 6, 2011, activists of Robin Wood held a blockade of the main access road to the Gronau enrichment plant for more than 12 hours. (Robin Wood July 6, 2011)

Blockade of Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant

At 6:00 a.m. on July 4, 2011, anti-nuclear activists started a blockade of the main access road to the Gronau enrichment plant. (SOFA Münster July 4, 2011)

Protest rally demands extension of Germany's nuclear phase-out to Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant

Around 300 people protested on July 3, 2011, against the continued operation of the Gronau enrichment plant. They demanded the inclusion of the plant in the German nuclear phase-out decision. (WDR July 4, 2011)

Tails cylinder falls from forklift at Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant

On June 20, 2011, a cylinder filled with depleted uranium hexafluoride (tails) fell from a height of 30 cm from a forklift to the ground at the Gronau enrichment plant. The cylinder remained undamaged, no radiation was released and nobody was injured. (Westfälische Nachrichten Jun. 20, 2011)

More than 5000 at demonstration against Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant

On April 25, 2011, more than 5000 people joined a demonstration against Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant. They demanded an immediate shutdown of the enrichment plant and of all nuclear power plants in Germany. (Westfälische Nachrichten Apr. 25, 2011)

Emergency generator fails during recurring test at Gronau enrichment plant

Due to a defective valve, a diesel emergency generator failed on Jan. 5, 2011, during a recurring test at Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant. (North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Economics, Jan. 11, 2011)

Urenco maintained strict silence on crane accident at Gronau enrichment plant

On Oct. 12, 2010, the brakes of a gantry crane in the feed storage area of the Gronau enrichment plant failed, and the crane ran into its buffers, thereby damaging the buffers. The crane carried no load at the time of the accident. Nobody was injured.
According to Urenco CEO Dr Joachim Ohnemus, the brake had failed due to a software error. The cause of the failure is still under investigation.
To avoid unfavourable publicity, Urenco had not informed the public about the event. (Westfälische Nachrichten Dec. 3, 2010)

Easter march against Urenco Gronau enrichment plant

120 people participated in an Easter march held on April 4, 2010, against the Urenco Gronau enrichment plant. (ddp Apr. 4, 2010)

Worker exposed to uranium hexafluoride at Gronau uranium enrichment plant

On Jan. 21, 2010, at 14:32 hrs, a worker at Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant was exposed to uranium hexafluoride, when preparing a transport cylinder for a pressure test. The cylinder had been delivered as "empty and cleansed". The amount of uranium hexafluoride released is unknown, but was only a few grams, according to Urenco's estimates. The worker suffered contamination at arms and legs and was hospitalized.
The contaminated area of the plant was isolated and the contaminated air released via the stack. The release to the environment was equivalent to one sixth of the permissible weekly amount. The environmental monitoring around the plant detected no unusual features. (North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Economics Jan. 22, 2010)
According to Urenco, the supplier had erroneously labeled the cylinder as "clean and washed out" though it still contained 1.6 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride. Urenco therefore dismisses any responsibility for the accident. The cylinder was of the type 30B which is used for enriched uranium; it was supplied by Westinghouse Electric Sweden in Västerås. Apparently, the four-step washing process in Sweden was interrupted after the first step for unknown reasons and the cylinder prematurely declared clean. (Münstersche Zeitung Jan. 26/27, 2010; Westfälische Nachrichten Jan. 27, 2010; Urenco Jan. 27, 2010; SSM Jan. 29, 2010)
> Download preliminary report of North Rhine-Westphalia Minister of Economics Jan. 27, 2010 (47k PDF - in German)
> Download Transcript of Jan. 27, 2010, meeting of NRW State Parliament committee of economics (113k PDF - in German)
So it appears that the residual UF6 in the cylinder were "heels" (residue left after standard unloading procedure, view details). In this case, the fact that the cylinder was not empty would have been easily detectable with any most simple Geiger counter, since such "heels" cylinders generate the by far highest radiation fields encountered in enrichment plants (view details). So, Urenco needs to explain why the labeling error remained undetected.

According to a report of the supplier of the cylinder, Westinghouse Electric Sweden, Urenco opened the cylinder, although no document confirmed it as empty and cleaned. Westinghouse confesses to the error of having the cylinder shipped before it was completely cleaned, but maintains that this error should have been noticed by Urenco. (taz Mar. 19, 2010)

Medical investigations showed that the worker suffered no acute lung damage. The effective radiation dose received by the worker was initially estimated at 1.1 mSv and later revised to 0.84 mSv. (Münstersche Zeitung Jan. 26, 2010; Westfälische Nachrichten Apr. 23, 2010)

Assuming that the dose of 1.1 mSv is completely attributed to inhalation, this dose is obtained for a single inhalation event of approx. 30 mg enriched UF6, containing approx. 20 mg enriched U (see Uranium Radiation Individual Dose Calculator).
The inhalation of 20 mg U of type F (as applicable for UF6) leads to an initial uranium concentration in the kidney of approx. 2 µg/g, which is below the often used nephrotoxicity standard of 3 µg/g (see Uranium Biokinetics Calculator). However, there have been many requests to lower this limit to 0.3 µg/g, to avoid kidney damage. The uranium concentration in the worker's kidney would fall below this lower limit only after approx. one month.

As the Gronau hospital refused to accept the patient for capacity problems, he was brought to the hospital of the neighbouring town of Ochtrup. As this hospital apparently was not prepared to deal with such a patient, he was then transfered to the university hospital in Münster. On Jan. 25, 2010, the patient was transfered to the University of Düsseldorf's nuclear medicine hospital at the Jülich research center, from where he was discharged on Jan. 29. (Westfälische Nachrichten Jan. 22/25/29, 2010)

This odyssey in result of a release of just a few grams of uranium hexafluoride raises the question of what would have happened in the case of a major release of uranium hexafluoride with dozens or hundreds of victims. And, Ochtrup is located 9 km to the east (that is downwind at the prevailing winds) from the enrichment plant. It is amazing to learn that the institutions around a plant that has been handling thousands of tonnes of uranium hexafluoride annually for decades are not even prepared to respond adequately to such a relatively minor release.

On Jan. 23, 2010, Greenpeace held a protest demonstration at the Gronau Urenco plant. On Jan. 24, 2010, a demonstration with 80 participants was held in the city of Gronau. A further demonstration with 150 participants was held in the city of Gronau on Jan. 30, 2010. (Westfälische Nachrichten Jan. 24/30, 2010)

During a special session of the Gronau city council held on Feb. 3, 2010, Urenco CEO Joachim Ohnemus denied any own neglects, but accused the employees of the Gronau hospital of "total ignorance" of the emergency plans [!]. He moreover announced that additional monitoring procedures would be established at the plant to prevent any not completely cleaned cylinders from being submitted to future pressure tests. (Westfälische Nachrichten Feb. 3, 2010) [It is not reported, whether Ohnemus gave any explanations, why such monitoring had not been introduced earlier.]

On July 6, 2010, the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Economics released its final report on the event. The report identifies the wrong labeling of the cylinder by the supplier as the primary cause of the event. But it also finds that Urenco had overlooked several indicators for the wrong labeling, and that the release could have been averted by a more cautious handling procedure.

On Aug. 31, 2010, the public prosecutor of Münster announced that the investigations into the accident have been dropped. The employees of Urenco cannot be held responsible for any violations of their duties, senior public prosecutor Wolfgang Schweer said. The spilled amount of uranium were too small to present a hazard to humans, and, according to an expertise, the worker involved does not have to fear any health effects. (Westfälische Nachrichten Aug. 31, 2010)

Reportable event at Gronau uranium enrichment plant

On July 17, 2009, during works for the plant expansion, control equipment had been connected to the operating plant without conducting necessary tests. The event was classified INES 0. (Westfälische Nachrichten July 25, 2009)

Completion of capacity increase at Urenco Gronau enrichment plant delayed

The completion of the capacity increase of the Urenco Gronau enrichment plant has been delayed for almost one year, and the startup date is still unknown. (taz June 6, 2008)

U.S. NRC issues export license for enrichment of Chinese origin uranium at Urenco's European plants

> View here

Protests against uranium hexafluoride rail transport from Pierrelatte to Gronau

On Dec. 6 and 7, 2006, a rail transport of uranium hexafluoride from the Pierrelatte conversion plant (France) to Gronau (Germany) was accompanied by protests in Waltrop, Hamm, Ahaus, and Gronau. (SOFA Münster Dec. 7, 2006)

Protests in Gronau against uranium hexafluoride rail transport arriving from Pierrelatte

Upon arrival of a rail transport of uranium hexafluoride from the Pierrelatte conversion plant (France) on Nov. 16, 2006, protests were held in Gronau at the station and at the Urenco enrichment plant. (SOFA Münster Nov. 16, 2006)

Anti-nuclear camp held at Gronau enrichment plant

On June 16-18, 2006, the organisation Nirgendwo (Nowhere) held an anti-nuclear camp with 50 - 60 participants at the Urenco Gronau enrichment plant. (Westfälische Nachrichten June 18, 2006)

Urenco Deutschland receives German "Ethics in Business" award

On Nov. 2, 2005, the German branch of Urenco received the German Ethics in Business award. (Westfälische Nachrichten Nov. 4, 2005)
Note 1: Rather than receiving money, the prizewinners have to pay EUR 4900 to the awarding organization.
Note 2: A partnering organization of the award is BUND , the German branch of Friends of the Earth.

Green party local group dissolved for capacity increase of Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant

In reaction to the licensing of the capacity increase of Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant by the Social Democrat / Green Party coalition State Government, the Gronau local group of the Green Party has declared its dissolution. (Gronauer Nachrichten April 22, 2005)

Gronau enrichment plant granted license for capacity increase

On Feb. 14, 2005, the Northrhine-Westphalia State Ministry of Energy (MVEL) issued a license for the planned capacity increase to 4500 t SWU/y at Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant. The license comprises the construction of a second enrichment plant next to the existing plant. The existing plant holds a license for 1800 t SWU/y and will reach this capacity in 2005. In addition, the license allows for the long-term onsite storage of 50,000 t of depleted uranium in oxide form. (MVEL Feb. 14, 2005)
The whole capacity increase will cost Euro 700 - 800 million. A first tranche of Euro 200 million has already been allocated. First production at the new plant is expected to begin in the second half of 2007. (Gronauer Nachrichten Feb. 14, 2005)

Failure of ventilation system at Gronau enrichment plant

On March 21, 2004, rain water caused a short circuit in an air pressure sensor of Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant. Subsequently, parts of the plant's ventilation system failed. The problem was corrected within 70 minutes. According to Urenco, the event was categorized below INES 0 on the International Nuclear Event Scale. (Gronauer Nachrichten March 25, 2004)

Security guards at Gronau enrichment plant on strike

The private security guards at Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant are on strike. They are participating in strikes organized by the "ver.di" trade union in Northrhine-Westphalia. (AP July 25, 2003)

6700 objections filed against Gronau enrichment plant extension

On March 26, 2003, AKU Gronau handed 6700 objections against the capacity increase of Urenco's Gronau uranium enrichment plant over to the NRW state ministry of energy.

> See also: AKU Gronau · BUND NRW (in German)

Protest at Gronau enrichment plant

On September 1, 2002, approx. 200 anti-nuclear activists gathered in front of the Gronau enrichment plant to protest against the expansion of the plant.

Blockade at Gronau enrichment plant

16 anti-nuclear campaigners blocked the access to the Gronau enrichment plant early on August 30, 2002. (Westfälische Nachrichten Aug 31, 2002)

State Government may stop capacity increase

According to a legal opinion commissioned by the Green Party, the Nordrhein-Westfalen state government is in the position to deny the requested capacity increase of Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant. The federal nuclear phase-out law would allow for such denial, according to the author of the opinion. (Westfälische Rundschau May 3, 2002)

Environmental NGOs oppose planned capacity increase

At the occasion of the initiation of the environmental assessment for the planned capacity increase of Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant, the three major environmental NGOs *) based in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen have vowed their opposition to the plan. (Gronauer Nachrichten May 2, 2002)
*) Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz (BUND), Landesgemeinschaft Naturschutz und Umwelt (LNU), Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU).

> View the NGO's news release (May 3, 2002) (in German)
> Download NGO's statement (April 30, 2002) (23k PDF in German)

Capacity increased

At the end of 2000, total installed capacity at Urenco's enrichment plants in The Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Germany is approaching 4.8 million SWU per year. (UI News Briefing 00.50, Dec. 13, 2000)

Blockade of UF6 transport at Gronau, Germany

On Dec. 2, 1999, around 40 protestors blocked the transport of UF6 cylinders at the gate of Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant. The transport consisted of 12 cylinders of natural UF6, originating from the conversion plant in Pierrelatte, France. The cylinders arrived by train at the railway terminal in Nordhorn and were then trucked 25 km to Gronau. One protestor was arrested, 26 others face charges with violations of the right of assembly. (Gronauer Nachrichten Dec. 3, 1999)

Protests at Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant (Germany)

200 people from Germany and the Netherlands gathered on October 3, 1999 at Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant to call for an immediate phase-out of nuclear energy. Considering the criticality accident at the Tokai nuclear fuel plant in Japan, speakers warned of the hazards of uranium hexafluoride processing, and called for an inclusion of the plant in the government plans for nuclear phase-out.
> see also: URENCO Gronau plans another 122% capacity increase

 

URENCO Gronau plans another 122% capacity increase

Urenco will hold a public meeting on January 31, 2002 on the planned capacity increase:
Über die geplante Erweiterung der Urananreicherungsanlage auf 4000 Tonnen Trennarbeit/Jahr will die Geschäftsleitung der Firma Urenco Deutschland GmbH die Gronauer Bürger während einer öffentlichen Veranstaltung am Donnerstag, den 31. Januar 2002 informieren. Stattfinden soll der Informationsabend in der Aula des Werner-von-Siemens-Gymnasiums (Adresse: Laubstiege 23). (Gronauer Nachrichten 23.1.02)

Urenco Deutschland has formally applied for a licence to increase the capacity of the Gronau centrifuge enrichment plant to 4000 t SWU/yr. The current plant has a capacity of 1000 t SWU, which Urenco plans to increase by 800 t SWU under existing licences. Urenco announced plans to build a new 1500 t SWU plant at the site several months ago but has now revised the capacity of the new plant to 2200 t SWU. (NuclearFuel, 5 October 1998)
The license application also includes the construction of two buildings for the storage of depleted uranium as oxide (details here).

On May 28, 1998, Urenco announced that it is planning to increase the capacity of its Gronau enrichment plant by 1500 t/year uranium separation work (SWU).

On Oct. 31, 1997, Urenco's Gronau facility, the only uranium enrichment plant in Germany, received a license to increase its capacity from 1000 to 1800 t/year uranium separation work (SWU).
> View license text (in German)

In September 1997, the Higher Administrative Court of Münster had turned down an application filed by a citizen group to conduct a referendum against the plan.

The previous capacity increase had been licensed in 1994, allowing for a nearly doubling from 530 to 1000 t/year SWU. The 1000 t/year capacity will only be attained in early 1998.

On Nov. 28, 1997, the Higher Administrative Court of Münster turned down a case filed by a Green Party member of the city council of Gronau against the 1994 license.

Capacity also is being increased in Urenco's other plants: in the end of 1997, the first modules of a new plant in Capenhurst (UK) went into operation; and the capacity of 1500 t/year SWU of the Almelo plant (The Netherlands) is being expanded by 2000 t/year SWU.

 

ANF Lingen nuclear fuel fabrication plant

Aerial view: Google Maps

 

350 demonstrate for closure of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant and Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant

On Sep. 9, 2017, 350 people demonstrated in Lingen for the shutdown of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant and Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant. (NOZ Sep. 9, 2017)

Leak in autoclave at Areva's ANF Lingen nuclear fuel manufacturing plant

During operation of the dry conversion plant, a fissure in an autoclave caused a leak. The autoclave has been taken out of operation. (Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Umwelt, Energie und Klimaschutz May 18, 2017)

Greenpeace holds blockade of Areva's ANF Lingen nuclear fuel manufacturing plant

Protesting against the export of nuclear fuel elements to European nuclear power plants, Greenpeace held a blockade of the access road to Areva's ANF nuclear fuel manufacturing plant in Lingen for almost 12 hours on May 10, 2017. (NOZ May 10, 2017)

Lower Saxony state minister of environment endorses plan to close German nuclear fuel facilities

Lower Saxony state minister of environment Stefan Wenzel endorsed the announcement of federal environment minister Barbara Hendricks to explore the legal possibilities for a closure of Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant and Areva's ANF Lingen nuclear fuel manufacturing plant (the latter being located in Lower Saxony). Both of these plants are not covered by the German nuclear phase-out policy. (Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Umwelt, Energie und Klimaschutz, April 3, 2017)

Federal Government of Germany continues to issue transport licenses for nuclear fuel to ailing Belgian reactors Doel and Tihange - in spite of own demand for their shutdown

In spite of all doubts about the safety of the Belgian Tihange 2 nuclear power plant, new fuel rods [produced at Areva's Lingen plant] have been delivered from Germany to the reactor located near the German border town of Aachen. A total of 50 transports to the Belgian Doel and Tihange power plants has been licensed by the German Federal Government according to a list of the Federal Office for Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE). 17 of these transports have already taken place.
North Rhine-Westphalia state environmental minister Johannes Remmel criticized these licenses that were issued in spite of the Federal Government's demand for a shutdown of these ailing reactors. (Frankfurter Rundschau Mar. 28, 2017)
> Download list of Current transport licenses (BfE)

700 demonstrate for closure of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant and Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant

On Oct. 29, 2016, 700 people demonstrated in Lingen for the shutdown of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant and Urenco's Gronau enrichment plant. (NOZ Oct. 29, 2016)

German government discloses export licenses issued in 2011 - 2016 for nuclear fuel from Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel manufacturing plant

Between 2011 and July 2016, 102 export licenses have been issued for nuclear fuel from Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant.
> Download: Bundestags-Drucksache 18/9747 , Sep. 23, 2016 (181k PDF - in German)

Resolution signed by 185 initiatives demands shutdown of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel fabrication plant

On March 2, 2016, activists handed a resolution demanding the shutdown of the ANF Lingen nuclear fuel fabrication plant over to the Niedersachsen state government. The appeal was signed by 185 organizations from Niedersachsen and neighbouring states. (Die Welt Mar. 2, 2016)

Blockade of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant

In the morning of Feb. 1, 2016, about 20 activists started a blockade of the access road to Areva's ANF Lingen nuclear fuel plant. (NOZ Feb. 1, 2016)

Demonstration for closure of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant

On Jan. 31, 2016, about 130 people demonstrated for the closure of Areva's ANF Lingen nuclear fuel plant. They also protested against the export of nuclear fuel bundles from the plant to the flaw-plagued Belgian reactor of Doel. (NOZ Jan. 31, 2016)

Blockade of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant

On Sep. 28, 2015, anti nuclear activists held a blockade of the access road to Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant for six hours. (taz Sep. 29, 2015)

Protestors demand closure of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant

More than 50 people demanded the closure of the ANF Lingen nuclear fuel plant during a demonstration held in front of the facility on Nov. 30, 2014. Participants included activists from France, the Netherlands, and Russia. (Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung Nov. 30, 2014)

Groups demand immediate closure of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant

More than 50 environmental organisations and anti-nuclear groups, including Greenpeace, Robin Wood and Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz (BUND), demand the immediate shutdown of Areva's ANF plant in Lingen, currently Germany's only nuclear fuel plant. They point out that the plant suffers from ageing problems. (Tageszeitung Nov. 27, 2014)

State government not to push for phase-out of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant

The state of Niedersachsen will not push for the closure of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant, according to state environmental minister Stefan Wenzel (Green Party). The plant is not covered by Germany's nuclear phase-out policy. (Grafschafter Nachrichten Nov. 6 2014)

Fissure causes partial halt of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant

A fissure in a rotary kiln used to heat uranium hexafluoride has led to a partial halt of the dry conversion operations in Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant. The fissure presumably is the result of ageing. (Ministerium für Umwelt, Energie und Klimaschutz, Niedersachsen, Nov. 5 2014)

Blockade of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant

On Oct. 14, 2014, 20 protestors held a blockade of the access road to Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant for four hours. They demanded the closure of the plant which is not covered by Germany's nuclear phase-out. (SOFA Oct. 15, 2014)

Blockade of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant

On the early morning of July 25, 2013, anti-nuclear activists started a blockade of Areva's nuclear fuel plant in Lingen. The activists protested against the continued operation of the plant, in spite of Germany's commitment to a nuclear phase-out. (Focus July 25, 2013)

Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant passes stress test

> Download Stress test results , March 14, 2013 (BMUB - in German)

Protests in front of Areva's Lingen nuclear fuel plant

Around 15 anti-nuclear activists held a protest this morning in front of the Lingen nuclear fuel plant. They demanded the shutdown of the plant in view of the nuclear phase-out in Germany. (Robin Wood Oct. 11, 2012)

Rumors growing that Areva plans layoffs at ANF Lingen nuclear fuel plant

According to the Internet site L'Expansion, Areva plans layoffs at the ANF Lingen nuclear fuel plant as part of a massive restructuring program that is to be set up in reaction to a drop in demand caused by the German nuclear phase-out and the Fukushima disaster. (Le Monde Oct. 18, 2011)

Greens demand change of nuclear law to limit life of ANF Lingen nuclear fuel fabrication plant

Greens are demanding a change of German nuclear law to limit the life of the Gronau enrichment plant and Lingen nuclear fuel plant. The nuclear phase out only covers the nuclear reactors in the country, while the other nuclear facilities have unlimited licenses. An expertise elaborated by the scientific service of the Bundestag (lower chamber of Federal Parliament) showed that these license cannot be limited afterwards, unless the nuclear law is changed. (Westfälische Nachrichten Aug. 18, 2011)

Germany orders "stress test" for ANF Lingen nuclear fuel fabrication plant

According to the answer of the Federal Ministry of Environment to a parliamentary question, the German government now has ordered so-called "stress tests" also for nuclear facilities other than power reactors, such as the Gronau enrichment plant, the Lingen nuclear fuel fabrication plant, research reactors, and the facilities for interim storage of spent fuel. As with the power reactors, the stress tests are to evaluate the hazards from plane crashes, earthquakes, oder power outages. (WAZ Aug. 9, 2011)

ANF Lingen nuclear fuel fabrication plant applies for capacity increase to 800 t/a

The ANF Lingen nuclear fuel fabrication plant has filed an application for a capacity increase of the deconversion plant from 650 to 800 t/a. (Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Umwelt und Klimaschutz, July 2008)

Export of radioactive waste to the US for uranium extration and incineration

> view details


ROMANIA   flag


Pitesti nuclear fuel plant

Pitesti nuclear fuel plant to double production from 2010

The nuclear fuel plant in Pitesti will double production between 2010 and 2011 to supply the nuclear fuel bundles needed by the two new reactors of the Cernavoda power complex, informed Nuclearelectrica , the company supervising the plant. A year before the Unit 3 starts to function, the plant will produce 15,000 nuclear fuel bundles and before the Unit 4 is completed, it will climb to 20,000 bundles. The plant produced last year 9,360 bundles. (Realitatea Apr. 16, 2009)


SLOVAKIA   flag


Nuclear fuel plant project

The Russian state corporation TVEL is interested in building a nuclear fuel production plant in Slovakia. (Hospodárske noviny Mar. 3, 2009)


SPAIN   flag


Juzbado nuclear fuel plant, Salamanca

Violation of criticality rules at Juzbado nuclear fuel plant

Enusa 's Juzbado nuclear fuel plant has notified the nuclear regulator Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear of a reportable event, in which a container was filled with more than the permissible 30 kgs of uranium pellets. The situation was soon corrected and the incident did not have any impacts. (ABC Sep. 16, 2011)

Juzbado nuclear fuel plant partly closed after fire

In the afternoon of Saturday (Sep. 18), a small fire caused the shutdown of the production in part of Enusa's nuclear fuel factory in Juzbado (Salamanca). The small fire, that was extinguished with extinguisher, occured in the lubrication oil of the bearing of an extraction ventilator, and activated a fire alarm in the BWR fuel tablet processing area. According to Enusa, the incident has not presented any hazard to the installation, the workers, the residents, or the environment. (La Voz de Galicia Sep. 20, 2010)

Spanish Supreme Court confirms Euro 1 million fine for Enusa for negligence leading to inadvertent transport of nuclear fuel to the USA

The Room of Contentious Affairs of the Supreme Court has confirmed four fines at an approximated total amount of one million Euros to the National Company of Uranium (Enusa) for "serious infractions" in the physical protection of nuclear fuels, among others. The sentence of the Supreme Court, that brings an end to a procedure initiated by the Minister of Industry and Energy in 1997, confirms that Enusa, a public company, showed a "negligent behavior" and "it produced a risk relative to the physical security of the nuclear material that could have been stolen or got lost".
The sentence of the Supreme Court indicates that all the sanctions were related to the irregular execution of an operation of transport of containers from the factory of nuclear fuel components at Juzbado (Salamanca) to Wilmington (USA). The breach of the protocol of the production processes led to the transport of three containers with uranium oxide to the USA, together with 147 empty ones. However, all 150 containers should have gone to General Electric's Wilmington factory empty. General Electric informed the authorities of the USA, the European Union, and Spain about the incident. Two department heads and four employees of the factory were dismissed. (El País Dec. 29, 2009)


SWEDEN   flag


Westinghouse nuclear fuel plant, Västerås

Westinghouse Electric Sweden

Toshiba's nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Co declares bankrupt

> View here

Westinghouse expands VVER fuel production capacity at Västerås

On April 28, 2016, Westinghouse Electric Company announced the expansion of its nuclear fuel factory in Västerås, Sweden. The US-based firm, which is majority-owned by Japan's Toshiba, said the expansion is a response to growing demand for nuclear fuel supply diversification for VVER-1000 reactors in Europe. Five countries - Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia - operate VVER-design reactors (four VVER-1000 and 14 VVER-440 type reactors).
A Westinghouse spokesman said that the company was investing "tens of millions of dollars" in expanding the Swedish factory. "The expansion work is almost complete and we expect everything to be 100% operational in the fall," he said, declining to give the size of the expansion. (WNN Apr. 29, 2016)

Deficiencies in radiation protection at Westinghouse Västerås nuclear fuel plant

The Westinghouse nuclear fuel plant in Västerås has reported deficiencies in radiation protection. The company has found traces of uranium in towels and overalls used in one of the company laboratories, according to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM).
According to SSM, levels are not so high as to constitute a health hazard to humans. But the authority is still critical. It might not be the levels themselves that are the most serious, but it indicates a lack of accuracy and some poor control on the management of the facility, said Eric Häggblom who is Inspector of Radiation Safety.
The authority has now decided that Westinghouse must measure the level of radioactivity in all textiles used before they leave the company area. By December 9, the company shall submit a report describing the incident and the steps the company has implemented and is planning to implement. It is still unclear what caused the uranium contamination detected. (Sveriges Radio Nov. 15, 2011)

Container not completely emptied at Västerås plant leads to UF6 exposure of worker in receiving plant

On Jan. 29, 2010, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) confirmed that a supposedly clean uranium shipping container had left the Västerås plant only partially emptied and cleaned, which led to the exposure of a worker with uranium hexafluoride at the receiving Urenco Gronau enrichment plant in Germany on Jan. 21, 2010. Westinghouse now has 30 days to describe the incident in writing and the action it intends to take to prevent such events from reoccuring.

> See details of the incident at Urenco Gronau

Excessive uranium levels found in urine of Westinghouse Västerås fuel facility workers

Employees at the Westinghouse fuel factory in Västerås may have been exposed to high doses of uranium. When the company investigated the uranium levels in urine of the workers, it was discovered that there is a risk that more uranium accumulated in their bodies than previously thought. The Radiation Safety Authority is investigating now how Westinghouse is dealing with the risk of inhaling uranium dust that is formed in the manufacturing process. (Sveriges Radio Nov. 13, 2009)

 

Ranstad Mineral AB processing plant

Excess amounts of uranium dumped on municipal dump in Sweden

Ranstad Mineral AB's uranium-processing plant has dumped excess amounts of uranium on the nearby municipal Risängen dump site which is located in the community of Skövde. 1500 kg rather than the licensed amount of 400 kg of uranium was dumped on behalf of Westinghouse Electric Sweden AB.

> View SSI release, Feb. 17, 2005 (in Swedish)
> View SSI release, Oct. 21, 2005 (in Swedish)

Contaminated waste from old Hanau MOX plant in Germany transfered to Sweden for uranium recovery and disposal

Waste containing plutonium from the dismantling of the former nuclear fuel plant of Siemens in Hanau, Germany, ends up on a municipal dumping ground near Ranstad in central Sweden.

40 metric tonnes of material have been delivered from Siemens to Ranstad Mineral AB. According to a Swedish parliament resolution, the import of radioactive waste into the country is prohibited in principle, but this material is classified as useful residues.
At Ranstad Mineral AB's uranium-processing plant (a former uranium mill), residual uranium is recovered from the Hanau material. After the extraction of the uranium, the material was dumped on the nearby municipal Risängen dump site which is located in the community of Skövde.

In April 2000 it was found that the plutonium concentrations in samples from dumped waste originating from treated Hanau material exceeded the admissible limit of 100 Bq/kg tenfold. The Swedish Radiation Protection Institute (SSI) then prohibited further dumping of this material.
In December 2000 however, Westinghouse Atom AB, the licensee for the dumping, illegally continued dumping of at least five further batches of the material.
SSI then investigated whether Westinghouse Atom AB might have penal responsibility for breaching the Radiation Protection Law. According to the law, a minor breach does not imply penal responsibility. And, SSI considered the breach minor, since no hazards to humans or the environment had occured.
(Der Spiegel / BBC Monitoring Service Apr. 29, 2002; Dagens Nyheter May 4, 2002; SSI documents)

> See also

> more Hanau decommissioning issues

 


Switzerland   flag


General

Swiss reactors use reprocessed Russian military uranium

According to investigations performed by Swiss paper Handelszeitung, the Swiss nuclear power plants at Gösgen and Beznau use reprocessed uranium from Russian military sources, such as decommissioned submarines or ice breakers. Neither the utilities Axpo and Alpiq, nor fuel manufacturer Areva know the exact origin of the highly enriched uranium. (Handelszeitung Sep. 26, 2012)

Swiss reactors use fuel re-enriched in Russian Seversk plant

> See Seversk enrichment plant waste disposal scheme puts drinking water at risk

Swiss reactors use fuel reprocessed in Russian Mayak plant

Gösgen nuclear power plant to use fresh fuel from Canadian uranium rather than recycled fuel from Russian Mayak reprocessing plant: The operator of the Gösgen nuclear power plant has announced the decision to procure the uranium for its fuel in future from Canadian uranium mines. The enrichment will take place in Urenco's plants in Europe, and the fuel will be manufactured by Areva. (sda July 15, 2014)

Swiss utility stands by decision to halt use of nuclear fuel originating from Russian Mayak reprocessing plant - in view of inconclusive results of environmental surveys: On Jan. 24, 2014, Axpo Holding AG made the decision to dispense with uranium deliveries from Mayak for the production of fuel elements for its reactors in Beznau. The decision is based on surveys carried out on behalf of Axpo in Russia. Axpo suspended uranium deliveries from Mayak in 2011 until new measurements could be carried out to create transparency regarding the environmental impacts of the current production methods.
Measurements taken in the area surrounding the Mayak nuclear facility near Chelyabinsk have not produced any clear-cut indications on whether current production methods violate environmental limits or not.
Between the spring of 2012 and spring 2013, Axpo ordered three independent radiological surveys to be carried out in the area around the Mayak production facility. The surveys were carried out by independent Russian scientists and experts from various laboratories. Furthermore, representatives from environmental organisations were present during measurements, and were able to send samples to a laboratory of their choice for evaluation. Results do not provide a clear indication that currently valid environmental levels are being exceeded through current operation, but cannot rule this out completely. (Axpo Jan. 27, 2014)

Fact-finding mission of Swiss utility denied access to Russian Mayak reprocessing plant - again: A planned visit of representatives of the Axpo energy group to the Mayak uranium reprocessing plant has been called off again. The visit was planned for mid-November, but has been postponed indefinitely for "still incomplete preparatory work" with Rosatom. (Bieler Tagblatt Nov. 7, 2012)

Rosatom now concedes Swiss experts access to Mayak reprocessing plant: Rosatom has changed its mind and promised to allow Swiss experts to inspect the Mayak reprocessing plant. A date for the visit has not been fixed yet, but is expected for the second half of 2012. (Schweizer Fernsehen Aug. 23, 2012)

Leakages from Mayak reprocessing plant continued in recent years: A 2006 document of the Chelyabinsk district court reveals that then Mayak director Vitali Sadovnikov failed to prevent the leakage of liquid radioactive waste into nearby rivers between 2000 and 2004. The strontium-90 standard was exceeded 10-fold. Rather than reparing the leaks, the director set aside company money for himself.
These events fall into a period, during which the plant did process fuel for use in Swiss nuclear power plants. (Schweizer Fernsehen Feb. 8, 2012)

Swiss utility halts use of nuclear fuel originating from Russian Mayak reprocessing plant, in response to denial of site inspection: On Nov. 12, 2011, the Swiss utility Axpo announced its decision to no longer acquire nuclear fuel originating from the Russian Mayak reprocessing plant. The decision was made based on Rosatom's denial to allow an inspection of the plant. (Neue Zürcher Zeitung Nov. 12, 2011)

Zürich Canton government asks utility to halt use of nuclear fuel originating from Russian Mayak reprocessing plant: The government of the canton of Zürich means to ask, through its representative in the board of directors of the utility Axpo, no longer to acquire nuclear fuel coming from the Russian reprocessing facility of Mayak. (RSI July 22, 2011)

Zürich Canton parliament urges government to terminate business relations with Rosatom: In view of the denial of access for a fact-finding mission of the Swiss utility Axpo to the Mayak reprocessing plant, the parliament (Kantonsrat) of the Canton of Zürich has urged the Canton government (Regierungsrat) to terminate the business relations with Rosatom as soon as possible. The Zürich Canton is co-owner of Axpo. (Tages-Anzeiger Jun. 27, 2011)

Rosatom denies fact-finding mission of Swiss utility access to Mayak reprocessing plant: Representatives of the Axpo energy group have called off a planned visit to Russia, after being suddenly told they could not visit the Mayak uranium reprocessing plant. The official reason given by Rosatom, the Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation, which is responsible for Mayak, is that the plant is in a closed military area.
In a statement issued by Axpo on Sunday, chairman Robert Lombardini said they were "very annoyed" at the fact that the visit, scheduled for the end of the month, had been called off at such short notice. Lombardini explained that the aim of the visit by members of the Axpo board of directors was to "throw light on the allegations and decide on the basis of new factors whether the reprocessing of uranium in the Russian plants is consistent with the requirements laid down by Axpo for sustainable energy production". (Swissinfo June 19, 2011)

Based on variations of radionuclide concentrations found in water samples taken near the Mayak plant, Greenpeace assumes that the plant still releases contaminated effluents into the environment. According to the Swiss utility Axpo, these results differ considerably from the monitoring data provided to Axpo by Mayak. For Axpo it remains therefor unclear, whether the contamination is caused by the current operation of the plant, or whether it is a legacy of incidents in the 1950s and 1960s. (Schweizer Fernsehen May 20, 2011)
> View Greenpeace release May 20, 2011 (in German)
> Download CRIIRAD report Radioactivité dans les environs du site nucléaire Mayak en Russie , May 6, 2011 (1.1M PDF - in French)
> Download Greenpeace summary of CRIIRAD report , May 2011 (3.1M PDF - in German)

The Swiss utility Axpo is investigating allegations about the use of dirty uranium from the Mayak reprocessing plant in its nuclear power plants (Beznau and Leibstadt), according to Axpo CEO Manfred Thumann. Axpo has several supply contracts with Areva, including fuel manufacture in MSZ Elektrostal. Under one of these contracts, the fuel elements contain 10% uranium from Mayak. Axpo is now investigating, whether current operations at Mayak still are contaminating the environment. (Schweizer Fernsehen Nov. 14, 2010)

The operators of the Beznau and Gösgen nuclear power pants in Switzerland have for the first time confirmed that they partly use nuclear fuel made from uranium reprocessed in the Russian Mayak plant - one of the most irradiated sites in the world. The Mayak plant is known for an explosion of a plutonium tank in the 1950s, but current operations still discharge radioactive waste liquids directly into the Techa River. According to Greenpeace, the cancer incidence rate of area residents is elevated, as is the number of still births and births of heavily handicapped babies. (Handelszeitung Sep. 9, 2010)

Swiss reprocessed uranium transferred to Eastern Europe for use as inferior quality fuel in old RBMK-1000 reactors

Other than plutonium and high level waste, the reprocessed uranium generated from reprocessing of Swiss spent fuel in the La Hague (France) and Sellafield (UK) reprocessing plants is not returned to Switzerland. According to a report in Swiss weekly SonntagsZeitung, it is, for example, transferred to Areva, who sells it to Russian companies, who use it as an inferior quality fuel in old reactors. The Russian nuclear energy authority has confirmed that it is being used in all units of the RBMK-1000 reactor type (the Chernobyl reactor type, of which 11 units are still in use). (Schweizer Fernsehen/Der Standard July 5, 2009)

> View Greenpeace Schweiz release July 15, 2009: "Verdacht erhärtet: Falsche Angaben in der Ökobilanz zum AKW Beznau" (in German)
> Download report Recycling von Wiederaufarbeitungsuran? Ein Einblick in die Geschäfte der Schweizer Atomindustrie mit russischen Brennstoffproduzenten (3.65MB PDF - in German)

 


UNITED KINGDOM   flag


General

Britain can reuse plutonium extracted from Japan's spent fuel: NDA expert

Britain can reuse around 17 tons of plutonium extracted from Japan's spent nuclear fuel on condition that Japan provides funding for the reprocessing of the material, which could be used to produce atomic weapons, a British nuclear expert has indicated.
Adrian Simper of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), a body linked to the British government, said in a recent interview at the NDA's office in Risley that weapons-grade plutonium taken from Japanese spent fuel and kept in Britain could be reprocessed as mixed oxide fuel and reused in the country to power reactors. British government sources also said they have conveyed to the Japanese government their readiness to reuse plutonium from Japan under appropriate commercial terms.
Britain has so far reprocessed around 4,000 tons of Japanese spent nuclear fuel. At present, Japan has 44 tons of plutonium in the country and abroad. Of that amount, 30 tons is fissile material that could be used to produce about 5,000 nuclear weapons. As of late last year, Britain kept around 90 tons of domestically generated plutonium and 28 tons of plutonium from other countries. (Japan Times Nov. 24, 2012)
[there is no mention in the article, where or how Britain would produce that MOX fuel, given the malfunction of the Sellafield MOX fuel plant]

Ageing nuclear cargo ship Pacific Pintail brought back into service under new name - in spite of expected "PR difficulties"

An ageing nuclear cargo ship has been rescued from the scrapyard to save money transporting plutonium and other radioactive materials around the world, prompting accusations that maritime safety is being jeopardised. The 25-year-old vessel, Pacific Pintail, has been brought back into service to make dozens of international shipments between nuclear plants over the next three years. Last month it moved three kilograms of plutonium under armed guard from Sweden to the US. The Pintail was laid up at Barrow in Cumbria two years ago for decommissioning, but has been resurrected after a £ 44 million plan to build a new nuclear cargo ship was abandoned as too expensive. An internal report seen by the Guardian admits that the continued use of the old ship "will present some PR difficulties". But the problems could be managed, the report said, by preparing a "stakeholder communications plan" and by giving the boat a new name. It has subsequently been renamed the Oceanic Pintail. (Guardian Apr. 19, 2012)

UK's separated plutonium stockpile poses severe risks warns Royal Society

> See here

 

UK government starts consultation on management of plutonium stocks, prefers reuse in MOX fuel, implying construction of new MOX fuel plant

> See here

 

Study analyses economics of management options for UK uranium and plutonium stockpile

> See here

 

Enriched uranium found in stream sediments near UK nuclear fuel facilities

The British Geological Survey has performed a pilot study on the isotopic composition of uranium found in stream sediments near nuclear fuel facilities in the United Kingdom. Samples were collected between 1979 and 1989 downstream from the following facilities: Uranium concentrations found in Drigg and Springfields stream sediments were about 20 times background, while those in Capenhurst were up to about 3 times background.
U-238/U-235 isotope ratios observed in stream sediments at Drigg and Springfields were in a 114.0 - 125.4 range (corresponding to 0.79 - 0.86 wt_% U-235), while those observed in Capenhurst were in a 54.8 - 63.0 range (corresponding to 1.55 - 1.77 wt_% U-235). For comparison: the U-238/U-235 ratio for natural uranium is 137.9, corresponding to 0.72 atom-percent, or 0.711 weight-percent U-235.
Without any detailed knowledge of the isotope ratios of the uranium released by these facilites, BGS was not able to determine what fraction of the uranium found in the stream sediments is attributable to the nuclear fuel facilities.
Uranium anomalies identified using G-BASE data - Natural or anthropogenic? A uranium isotope pilot study,
by SRN Chenery, EL Ander, KM Perkins, B Smith; British Geological Survey, Internal Report IR/02/001, 34 p., Keyworth, Nottingham 2002
> Download full report (2.5MB PDF - by courtesy of BGS)

 

Cheap uranium makes MOX uncompetitive, British Energy says

British Energy (BE) said on Nov. 26, 2001, that uranium would need to reach $60/lb for mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel to become competitive, while the current market price is roughly $9/lb. BE Corporate Affairs Director Robert Armour said before the U.K. government's Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee that though BE had separated plutonium in storage at Sellafield from reprocessing of its advanced gas-cooled reactors' (AGR) spent fuel, it had not attempted to re-use it as MOX "because of cheap uranium." [Platts Nov. 26, 2001]

 

Urenco Capenhurst enrichment plant, Cheshire (United Kingdom)

Aerial view: Google Maps

> See also: Capenhurst tails de-conversion plant project, United Kingdom
> See also: British Nuclear Group Sellafield Limited Capenhurst site
> See also: BNFL's depleted uranium storage facility at former Capenhurst gaseous diffusion plant (UK)

The plant is opposed by: Close Capenhurst Campaign

 

182 uranium hexafluoride transports to and from Urenco's Capenhurst enrichment plant in 2014

> View here

Firefighters at Urenco's Capenhurst enrichment plant announce 25 hour strike

Firefighters at the Capenhurst nuclear site will go on strike for 25 hours next week in a fight for their jobs. Coincidentally, 25 male and female emergency response and rescue staff at the Urenco uranium enrichment plant are at risk of redundancy. The GMB union says the strike will run between 6am on Wednesday (October 26) and 7am the next day. (Chester Chronicle Oct. 19, 2016)

'Minor' leakage from legacy depleted UF6 cylinder shows importance of deconversion plant project at Capenhurst

> View here

Fire in Urenco's Capenhurst enrichment plant

An overheated circuit was believed to have been the cause of an overnight blaze at a nuclear plant at Capenhurst. Fire crews [...] were called to the fire blaze at Urenco on Capenhurst Lane at around 4.13am on Thursday (Jan. 15) morning. On arrival they discovered the flames were confined to an industrial sized electrical unit and wore breathing apparatus and used foam and dry powder to extinguish the blaze. (Chester Chronicle Jan. 15, 2014)

Capacity of Urenco's Capenhurst enrichment plant decreases

According to Urenco's Annual Report and Accounts 2013 , the capacity of its Capenhurst (UK) enrichment plant decreased from 5.0 million SWU in 2012 to 4.9 million SWU in 2013.

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority transfers its Capenhurst site to Urenco

> View here

Fire at Urenco's Capenhurst enrichment plant

A nuclear scare was triggered at Urenco when a fire started in a workshop. Firefighters from stations across Cheshire attended the uranium enrichment plant. The proximity of the fire to radioactive uranium meant a carefully prepared action plan was set in motion and crews from Warrington, Ellesmere Port, Winsford and Chester all arrived at the Capenhurst Lane site at 3.26pm on Wednesday, February 22. Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus and staff from the plant put the fire out using a CO2 extinguisher. (Ellesmere Port Pioneer Feb. 29, 2012)
ONR was promptly notified of a fire in a non radiologically contaminated solvent degreaser tank, located within a pump maintenance workshop, at one of the enrichment facilities.  There were no injuries to personnel and the public were not affected. Monitoring of the perimeter of the site confirmed that there was no significant release of radioactive material.  The non-radioactive degreaser solvent fire led to evacuation of the enrichment facility control room for about an hour.  The fire was extinguished by the licensee's 'on site' Fire & Rescue team, supported by Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service, as rehearsed during planned ONR observed emergency exercises.
ONR has determined that enforcement action was not appropriate.  This is on the basis that the licensee has taken prompt action to implement a more robust maintenance regime and to obviate the build up of oil and grease residues within the heated solvent degreaser tank. These were understood to have been a key root cause of this event. (HSE Office for Nuclear Regulation: Statement of nuclear incidents at nuclear installations - Q1 2012)

Unexpected enhanced neutron radiation levels at Urenco Capenhurst plant site perimeter still under investigation

Perimeter radiation levels are periodically measured by both the licensee and independently by the Health Protection Agency.  In late 2008 and subsequently confirmed in 2009, although reducing in 2010 and early 2011, some unexpectedly variable levels of neutron radiation were measured, at the boundary of the Urenco UK Limited licensed site, at levels still well below any statutory limits and which are judged not to represent a significant health and safety risk, but nevertheless warranting further investigation.
Further independent measurements, taken by the Health Protection Agency, are periodically taken, to supplement those measurements taken by the licensee.  The licensee has also engaged with the National Physical Laboratory, (NPL), in order to gain a better understanding of neutron dosimetry requirements.  NPL took independent measurements at the site during this quarter.  This has initiated ongoing assessment and research into neutron dose measurements by Urenco UK Limited, which is continuing to be reviewed by an ONR specialist health physics assessment inspector. (ONR site inspector's quarterly report to the local stakeholder group for 1 April - 30 June 2011)

Urenco Capenhurst fails to maintain and test some safety related plant equipment

During a site inspection on 17th December, the licensee's Managing Director informed the site inspector of an event, provisionally rated as category "one" on the INES, (International Nuclear Event System) scale. During the licensee's periodic review of an enrichment facility plant maintenance schedule, (which defines key safety related equipment and the required maintenance frequencies for this equipment) it had just been established that a number of items of plant equipment had been incorrectly safety categorised, resulting in the failure to routinely maintain and test some of this safety related plant equipment. The maintenance should have been in accordance with the plant safety case requirements. The licensee was urgently testing these plant items and preliminary indications were that the equipment was generally functioning in compliance with the safety case requirements. This event was promptly recognised by the licensee as being a significant failure of their safety management system. (NII site inspector's quarterly report to the local stakeholder group for 1st October to 31 December 2009, Jan. 25, 2010)

Unexpected enhanced site perimeter radiation levels detected at Urenco Capenhurst plant

In late 2008 and subsequently confirmed in 2009, some unexpectedly enhanced levels of radiation were measured, at the boundary of the Urenco UK Limited licensed site, at levels still well below any regulatory limits, but nevertheless warranting further investigation. (NII site inspector's quarterly report to the local stakeholder group for 1st October to 31 December 2009, Jan. 25, 2010)

U.S. NRC issues export license for enrichment of Chinese origin uranium at Urenco's European plants

> View here

Three safety related equipment items found out of operation at Capenhurst enrichment plant, after Urenco forgets maintenance

Urenco UK Limited - Capenhurst reported on 17th December 2009 that during a periodic review of the Plant Maintenance schedule, the licensee identified that some safety related equipment items had not been placed on to the Plant Maintenance Schedule; some since 2005. This potential shortfall related to extensions to the latest enrichment facility, which was actively commissioned over the period 2005 to 2009. Consequently, affected safety related equipment items may not have been maintained in accordance with the plant safety case. Urgent checks were made of the safety related equipment items, three were found to be out of operation but of low safety significance, and were promptly repaired. (HSE Office for Nuclear Regulation: Quarterly statement of nuclear incidents at nuclear installations)

UK Environment Agency invites comment on review of radioactive waste authorisations for Urenco Capenhurst

The UK Environment Agency is reviewing the radioactive waste authorisations held by Urenco (Capenhurst) Limited for part of the nuclear site at Capenhurst, near Chester and invites comments.
Responses are due by 10 April 2007.

> View Environment Agency release Feb. 2007

Urenco Capenhurst tails deconversion plant project

> See here

Urenco Capenhurst seeks approval for enrichment of recycled uranium and for higher enrichment levels

A Preliminary Safety Report has been prepared to seek regulatory approval to enrich recycled uranium at Capenhurst as Urenco already does at its Almelo Plant in the Netherlands. Because of the potential increase in Nuclear power around the world uranium prices have risen which has therefore increased customer demand for enriching recycled uranium. The same report also covers the potential to enrich to higher levels than currently licensed. Again this is in anticipation of new requirements in the civil nuclear power industry as new generations of reactors are developed. (Minutes of the Urenco (Capenhurst) Ltd Local Liaison Committee, 30th November 2005)

UK Government to privatise stake in Urenco

> See Urenco

UK regulator releases review of Urenco Capenhurst's decommissioning strategy

On November 9, 2004, the UK Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Installation Inspectorate (NII) released its quinquennial review of Urenco (Capenhurst) Ltd's decommissioning strategy. The review also covers Urenco's tails disposition strategy.
> View HSE release Nov. 9, 2004
> Download A review by HM Nuclear Installations Inspectorate: Urenco (Capenhurst) Ltd's strategy for decommissioning its nuclear licensed site, Nov. 2004 (300k PDF)

> See also: Enriched uranium found in stream sediments near UK nuclear fuel facilities

 

Springfields Fuels Ltd uranium conversion plant (United Kingdom)

(formely BNFL Springfields)

Aerial view: Google Maps

> See also: Enriched uranium found in stream sediments near UK nuclear fuel facilities

Cameco ends Springfields toll-uranium conversion agreement early

On Mar. 31, 2014, Cameco announced that it will end its toll-conversion agreement with Springfields Fuels Ltd. (SFL) effective December 31, 2014.
The toll-conversion agreement was set to expire in 2016. Cameco has agreed to pay $18 million to SFL to permit early termination of the agreement. Production for Cameco at the Springfields facility will cease by August 31, 2014. Cameco expects to receive a maximum of 3,731 tonnes of uranium as UF6 from Springfields in 2014. "With the current weak market for UF6 conversion we can meet our customer requirements from our Port Hope conversion facility and benefit from better utilization of existing assets," said Tim Gitzel, Cameco's president and CEO.

Filter blown outside of Springfields Fuels Ltd uranium conversion plant building

"During night shift hours of 10/11 October [2012], an environmental discharge filter, contaminated with low levels of uranium tetrafluoride powder, became pressurised, and detached from its housing. This caused the filter to be released from the Hex Plant building on to nearby walkways, outside the building, but contained within the site."
(Quarterly site report for the Springfields Fuels Limited site. 1 October 2012 to 31 December 2012. HSE Office for Nuclear Regulation, Jan. 2013)

Operational life of BNFL Springfields uranium conversion plant to be extended by 10 years

Cameco has signed a toll-conversion agreement with British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL) to acquire uranium conversion services (UF6) from BNFL's Springfields plant in Lancashire, United Kingdom. Under the 10-year agreement, BNFL will annually convert a base quantity of 5 million kilograms of uranium (kgU) as UO3 to UF6 for Cameco.
In 2001, BNFL announced that the Springfields facility would close in 2006. This new agreement will keep the plant operating for the duration of the agreement.
Cameco will invest $4 million to construct drum tipping and washing facilities at BNFL's Springfields plant. UO3 shipments from Cameco's Blind River refinery to Springfields are expected to begin later in 2005 with UF6 conversion shipments from BNFL starting in mid-2006. (Cameco March 16, 2005)

Springfields uranium conversion plant to be shut down in 2006

"British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL) will cease uranium hexafluoride (UF6) conversion operations at its Springfield facility after March 2006, the company announced. The decision to end the conversion operations follows BNFL's announced schedule for shutting down its eight Magnox plants. BNFL emphasized that production of Magnox fuel and UF6 conversion share manufacturing facilities, and that it would be uneconomical to continue UF6 conversion after Magnox fuel production ends 'sometime after 2005'. Meanwhile, BNFL has sold its uncommitted UF6 conversion capacity to Cameco Corp. Under the agreement, BNFL will cease marketing UF6 conversion immediately, and all production other than that needed to fill existing contract requirements is committed to Cameco, who must take a specified minimum quantity of conversion." (UI News Briefing 01.07, Feb. 14, 2001)

 

Springfields Fuels Ltd nuclear fuel fabrication plant (United Kingdom)

(formerly BNFL Springfields)

Aerial view: Google Maps

> See also: Enriched uranium found in stream sediments near UK nuclear fuel facilities

159 uranium hexafluoride transports from Springfields nuclear fuel fabrication plant in 2014

> View here

Toshiba's nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Co declares bankrupt

> View here

Small release of uranium hexafluoride from ageing container at Springfields nuclear fuel fabrication plant

"On 30 April, the ONR nominated site inspector, accompanied by the Environment Agency nuclear regulator, conducted a reactive intervention, in response to a minor site event promptly reported on 23 April. This event involved a small weepage of uranium hexafluoride residue, from within two ageing legacy uranium hexafluoride transport containers. This type of container is no longer authorised for transport off the site. These two transport container had been stored on an external storage raft, alongside other similar containers, but were subsequently brought into ventilated, monitored cells, within a container processing building, for the forthcoming emptying of the transport container contents." (Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), Quarterly Site Report for Springfields Fuels Limited, Report for period 1 April - 30 June 2014)

"The licensee reported on 11 July that both of these containers had been safety washed out and the licensee remained on programme to empty the remaining ageing containers of this type within an acceptable timescale." (Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), Quarterly Site Report for Springfields Fuels Limited, Report for period 1 July - 30 September 2014)

Westinghouse Electric Co to buy Springfields Fuel

Toshiba Corp has announced its US subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Co will acquire UK-based Springfields Fuel after successfully concluding talks that started in September 2009. Under the deal, Westinghouse, which is currently the contracted operator of the Springfields plant will fully take over the business. However, the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which owns Springfields, will continue to own the property and buildings and will lease them out to Westinghouse. (IFandP Mar. 31, 2010)

Fuel manufacture from reprocessed uranium under consideration for Springfields nuclear fuel plant

"NII has continued to be engaged in discussions with the licensee regarding a proposal to potentially manufacture fuel, using reprocessed uranium as the feedstock. The licensee is currently reviewing the potential to use existing facilities and potentially a new facility to process the associated limited waste arisings. [...] The licensee is also continuing to plan to restart the existing LWR fuel manufacturing line, having recently updated the associated plant safety case."
(Springfields Fuels Limited Springfields Works report, NII site inspector's quarterly report for 1 July – 30 September 2009)

Westinghouse in discussions on takeover of Springfields nuclear fuel fabrication plant

Westinghouse Electric Company will announce that it is in advanced discussions with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) concerning a new organizational arrangement for the UK Fuel site at Springfields near Preston. These arrangements are looking at the introduction of a long-term lease when the current site management contract ends on March 31, 2010 together with the permanent transfer of ownership of Springfields Fuels Ltd, the company managing the site. (Westinghouse Sep. 9, 2009)

 

BNFL Sellafield MOX fuel facility (United Kingdom)

Sellafield MOX plant closure could cost taxpayer GBP 100 million

Taxpayers will be expected to pay the full costs of closing down and decommissioning a nuclear fuel plant at Sellafield which was built to provide plutonium-uranium mixed oxides (Mox) fuel to foreign power companies. A senior Sellafield executive has reassured Japanese customers that they will not have to pay the expected GBP 100 million costs of decommissioning the Sellafield Mox Plant, in Cumbria, which was closed in August because of Japan's "anticipated" cancellation of orders as a consequence of the Fukushima incident.
When a new nuclear power plant is decommissioned, the costs are supposed to be met by a levy on electricity companies but because the Sellafield Mox Plant is not new and was operated by the now-defunct, state-owned British Nuclear Fuels, the decommissioning liabilities fall to the British Government, said Andy Dawson, group commercial director of Sellafield Ltd.
"The costs of decisions to close the Mox plant ... will thus ultimately be paid by British taxpayers," Mr Dawson said in a letter to the Japan Times. (Independent Oct. 31, 2011)

Sellafield's MOX fuel plant to shut as a consequence of the Fukushima accident

The UK's only plant for processing plutonium into new fuel for nuclear reactors is to close as a result of the Japanese tsunami, threatening the loss of hundreds of jobs, it was announced today. The MOX site at Sellafield in Cumbria, which employs 800 workers, only had customers in Japan, where reactors have been shut down after the devastating earthquake and tsunami earlier this year.
Anti-nuclear campaigners said the plant had cost the public £1.4 billion in construction and running costs since building started in the mid-1990s, while union leaders described the closure as "ill-conceived and short-sighted".
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said there had been a "changed risk profile" for the Sellafield Mox Plant (SMP) following the Japanese disaster which crippled the Fukushima nuclear reactors. "In order to ensure that the UK taxpayer does not carry a future financial burden from SMP the only reasonable course of action is to close SMP at the earliest practical opportunity. " (The Independent August 3, 2011)

Potential closure of Hamaoka nuclear plant in Japan casts doubt on viability of Sellafield's MOX operation

The future of a nuclear fuel plant at Sellafield in Cumbria hangs in the balance after the Japanese Prime Minister called for the closure of a nuclear power station near Tokyo, which was to be the UK plant's most important customer.
The setback is the latest blow to Britain's faltering strategy for dealing with its growing mountain of reprocessed nuclear waste, and further evidence of the extent to which the devastating Japanese earthquake of 11 March has changed the nuclear picture - in particular the international trade in reprocessed nuclear fuel.
If the power plant at Hamaoka, 200km from Tokyo, closes, shipments of nuclear fuel to Japan from the Sellafield Mox Plant would stop before they had even started. It is the latest in a long series of problems for the nuclear fuel plant at the Sellafield complex which had already cost taxpayers GBP 1.34 billion even before the impact of the earthquake and tsunami was felt. (The Independent May 9, 2011)

Chubu Electric Power Co. agreed Monday (May 9) to suspend operation of the Hamaoka nuclear power station in Shizuoka Prefecture, as requested by Prime Minister Naoto Kan for safety reasons, its president said. (Mainichi May 9, 2011)

Areva to upgrade BNFL Sellafield MOX fuel plant

On July 1, 2010, Areva announced that it has signed a contract with Sellafield Limited to design, supply and install a new rod line for the SMP MOX fuel plant. AREVA will also provide associated inspection equipment. The contract is part of a program of engineering improvements being made to the plant following an agreement with Japanese utilities for further fuel manufacture.

NDA confirms that operations at Sellafield MOX Plant are to continue

"Given recent improvements in plant performance and positive discussions with customers the NDA (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) has concluded that, at this stage, the best course of action is the continued operation of SMP (Sellafield MOX Plant) in pursuance of completing the current campaign of fuel manufacture." (NDA Oct. 27, 2009)

Sellafield's rejected MOX fuel to be reprocessed in France

Nuclear fuel rejected by Japan in disgrace ten years ago is finally to be reprocessed. In a multi million pound scandal, the MOX produced by Sellafield was returned after a whistleblower said a check on the fuel was falsified by bored workers. Now the fuel will be taken to France for reprocessing.
A statement from International Nuclear Services, which is run by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and oversees the movement of nuclear fuel, said: "[...] In 2014/15 the sixteen unirradiated MOX fuel assemblies will be transported to France to be processed in a facility at Cap La Hague operated by Areva NC (which now part owns Sellafield). The reusable constituents will be separated out and made available for making into new fuel. The waste products will be returned to Sellafield." (North West Evening Mail (Aug. 8, 2009)

UK government discloses Sellafield MOX Plant losses

The UK government has released figures showing the losses made at the Sellafield MOX fuel reprocessing plant. Since the plant opened in 2002, the plant has produced a total of only 6.3t of mixed-oxide fuel. In three of those years it produced none, and in one it produced only 0.3t. According to campaign group Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment, its original annual production rate was 120t.
Since 2002, it has had an average net cash flow (costs minus sales) of -GBP89.5 million; -GBP626 million in total. Costs include operating costs, overheads and subcontracts. The plant cost GBP498 million to build and GBP139.4 million to commission. (Nuclear Engineering International April 10, 2009)

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority sees no future for Sellafield MOX fuel plant

The UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) apparently does not believe that the Sellafield MOX plant (SMP) will ever function properly. NDA only concedes that the plant possibly might be useful for the production of so-called "low specification MOx" - as part of an option for the disposal, rather than reuse of plutonium: "NDA have reviewed SMP and do not believe that it provides either the capacity or longevity to be used for the UK civil stockpile and the recycle options that NDA has considered assumed that plutonium is either sold direct or that MOx is fabricated in a new plant. There may be an opportunity to utilise the plant in a meaningful manner for the low specification MOx option."

> Download NDA Plutonium Topic Strategy, Credible Options Technical Analysis, 30 January 2009 (1.1M PDF)

 

Sellafield MOX fuel plant produces almost nothing

A nuclear plant built at a cost of GBP 470 million to provide atomic fuel to be used in foreign power stations has produced almost nothing since it was opened six years ago, the government has admitted. The mixed oxide (Mox) facility at Sellafield in Cumbria - which was opposed by green groups as uneconomic - was originally predicted to have an annual throughput of 120 tonnes of fuel.
The energy minister, Malcolm Wicks, has admitted in response to a parliamentary question that it had managed only 2.6 tonnes in any one 12-month period between 2002 and 2006-07. In the four years before 2002, the plant had produced annual figures respectively of 2.3 tonnes, 0.3 tonnes, 0 tonnes and 0 tonnes. Wicks described the Sellafield Mox plant (SMP) as being based on "largely unproven technology" and pointed out that its estimated annual output had been reduced by 2001 to 72 tonnes.
British Nuclear Group (BNG), which operates the Sellafield site, said a range of improvements were being made to the facility but it admitted that the 2007-08 period had again seen production disrupted by various problems. BNG has been forced to meet the needs of Swiss and other contracted customers for Mox fuel through buying alternative supplies from France and Belgium. (The Guardian March 3, 2008)

 

BNFL calls in chief competitor Cogéma to try to get its MOX fuel plant operating properly

BNFL has had to turn to its biggest competitor, the French group Cogema, for help to try to get its controversial GBP 473 million (EUR 684 million) MOX plant operating properly. The plant is years behind target and has lost the company hundreds of millions of pounds. Two former environment ministers - Labour and Conservative - are demanding a parliamentary inquiry. (Independent Oct. 17, 2004)

 

Sellafield MOX plant starts operation

On December 20, 2001, BNFL's Sellafield MOX fuel plant started operation. (Independent Dec. 21, 2001)

 

FOE and Greenpeace lose appeal against Sellafield MOX plant decision

On December 7, 2001, environmentalists lost their appeal against the opening of the Sellafield MOX plant. Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace had urged the English Court of Appeal to overturn a High Court ruling last month that UK ministers had made "no error in law" in approving the Sellafield Mox Plant, which combines reprocessed plutonium with uranium. But Lords Justices Simon Brown, Waller and Dyson unanimously rejected the appeal at a hearing in London, saying the government was "entitled to decide these cases in the real world". (Financial Times 7 Dec 2001)
> View FOE news release (7 Dec 2001)

 

Ireland loses legal challenge against Sellafield MOX plant

On December 3, 2001, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg ruled that "the urgency of the situation did not require the prescription of the provisional measures as requested by Ireland" (i.e. a temporary injunction to halt the start of operations at the MOX plant). The tribunal ordered Ireland and the UK to submit written evidence by December 17, giving Ireland a window of just three days to resolve its complaints before the scheduled opening of the plant on December 20. (Financial Times 3 Dec. 2001)

> View: International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, Hamburg:
The MOX Plant Case (Ireland v. United Kingdom), Provisional Measures

 

FOE and Greenpeace appeal Sellafield MOX plant court decision

On Nov. 27, 2001, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth asked Britain's Court of Appeal to block the opening of the Sellafield MOX fuel facility. They are appealing a decision by the High Court on 15 Nov. that the government had made "no error of law" in granting approval for the Sellafield facility in Cumbria to begin production of mixed-oxide fuel. (AP 28 Nov. 2001)
> View Friends of the Earth release Nov. 23, 2001

 

Irish Government calls for injunction against Sellafield MOX plant at International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea

The Government is calling for the tribunal to establish Ireland's rights under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to grant its request for an injunction against the authorisation of the MOX plant next month based on a threat to those rights. Ireland says this is necessary to prevent the erosion of numerous other rights granted to it in the convention. (Irish Times Nov. 20, 2001)

 

High Court Judge rules Sellafield MOX plant go-ahead not unlawful

On Nov. 15, 2001, a High Court Judge ruled that the Government's recent decision to give British Nuclear Fuels Ltd the go-ahead for the MOX plant at Sellafield was not unlawful under European law. Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace had made the case that the Government had wrongly disregarded the £470 million it cost to build the plant when deciding that the plant was economically justified under EU law. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth will consider whether to appeal Mr Justice Collins' decision.
> View Friends of the Earth release Nov. 15, 2001

 

FOE and Greenpeace take MOX nuke plant to court

The UK Government is being taken to court to prevent the controversial plutonium plant at Sellafield from opening. Lawyers acting for Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace on Oct. 5, 2001, filed papers in the High Court.
> View Friends of the Earth release Oct. 5, 2001

 

Sellafield MOX plant receives government go-ahead

On Oct. 3, 2001, the UK Government announced that the manufacture of mixed oxide (MOX) fuel is justified in accordance with the requirements of European Community law.
Before the MOX Plant can start full operation, BNFL is required under one of the conditions in its Sellafield nuclear site licence to obtain consent for plutonium commissioning from the Health and Safety Executive.
> View DEFRA release Oct. 3, 2001 · Download Decision document (DEFRA)
> View Friends of the Earth release Oct. 3, 2001

 

Falsification at Sellafield MOX fuel demonstration facility

The Nuclear Safety Directorate of the U.K. Health and Safety Executive has published the following reports:

HSE Team inspection of the control and supervision of operations at BNFL's Sellafield site (Feb. 18, 2000)

An investigation into the falsification of pellet diameter data in the MOX Demonstration Facility at the BNFL Sellafield site and the effect of this on the safety of MOX fuel in use (Feb. 18, 2000)


UKRAINE   flag


General

China ready to participate in building nuclear fuel manufacturing facilities in Ukraine: China is ready to participate in the construction of facilities for nuclear fuel production in Ukraine, the press service of the Energy and Coal Industry Ministry of Ukraine reported following the talks within the framework of the One Belt, One Road forum in Beijing. "China has expressed interest in the joint implementation of the investment project based at the mine, which is being constructed at the Novokostiantynivske uranium ore deposit, and is ready to take part in the construction of production facilities in Ukraine to manufacture fuel assemblies for Ukrainian nuclear power plants," the press service said. (Interfax May 15, 2017)

 

Urenco to supply Ukraine with enriched uranium

Ukraine's national nuclear energy generating company Energoatom and the Anglo-German-Dutch company URENCO have signed a contract on supply of the enriched uranium for Ukraine. The enriched uranium which the company will provide will be used to produce nuclear fuel at a facility of Westinghouse Company in Sweden for the purposes of Ukrainian nuclear power plants. (Energoatom Aug. 18, 2016)

 

Westinghouse to build nuclear fuel plant in Ukraine

Ukraine said today it had reached an agreement with the US-based electric giant Westinghouse to build a nuclear fuel production unit that would help reduce its reliance on Russia. Energy Minister Igor Nasalyk told reporters that his June visit to the United States had produced an agreement for Westinghouse's Swedish nuclear production factory to build its own plant in Ukraine at an undisclosed future date. (Business Standard Aug. 4, 2016)

 

Ukraine mulls cooperation with ConverDyn for construction of conversion plant project

A private U.S. nuclear energy company could begin helping Ukraine in the production of enriched uranium, the fuel in nuclear power plants, according to a statement on Thursday (July 2) from Kiev's nuclear authority, Yadernoye Toplivo. The meeting, which took place on June 23 in Kiev between ConverDyn and Ukrainian officials, is another indication of Kiev's attempts to diversify its future energy needs and distance itself from Russian-produced energy, reports pro-Ukrainian news website UNIAN.
"At present, ConverDyn is interested in cooperation with Ukrainian companies in the field of uranium conversion services for Ukraine’s nuclear energy industry," the official statement reads. "During the meeting, the parties discussed the potential possibility of jointly building the uranium hexafluoride production facilities in Ukraine." (International Business Times July 3, 2015)

 

Areva to supply Ukraine with enriched uranium

On April 24, 2015, Areva announced it has signed a contract with Ukrainian utility Energoatom , for the supply of enriched uranium, to be used in local nuclear power plants. This is the first enriched uranium contract awarded to Areva by Energoatom. The first batches will be delivered in 2015.

 

Smolyne nuclear fuel plant project, Kirovohrad Region

Ukraine to renounce Ukrainian-Russian nuclear fuel plant project: Ukraine plans renouncing a joint project with Russia, under which the two countries were to build a factory for the production of nuclear fuel, the Minister of Energy and Coalmining, Vladimir Demchishin told TASS on Wednesday (Apr. 29). Under the initial plans, the factory was to be built in the township of Smolino, Ukraine's central Kirovograd region. (Tass Apr. 29, 2015)

Russian-Ukrainian joint venture starts construction of nuclear fuel plant in Ukraine: Ukraine and Russia have begun building a nuclear fuel plant in Smolyne, Kirovohrad region. Nuclear Fuel state concern will be realising the plant construction project. A joint Ukrainian-Russian venture Nuclear Fuel Plant CJSC, founded by Nuclear Fuel SC and TVEL OJSC (Russia) will be dealing with further realisation of the project and adoption of technologies.
The construction is divided into two phases. The first phase (2012-2015) supposes fabrication of fuel rods, fuel assemblies, zirconia component parts of delivered roll stock, stainless component parts, and creation of corresponding infrastructure at the factory. The second phase (2016-2020) supposes fabrication of uranium dioxide powder, fuel pellets, and creation of corresponding infrastructure at the factory. (Ukrainian News Agency Oct. 4, 2012)

Russian-Ukrainian joint venture's nuclear fuel plant to cost US$ 350 million: Russian nuclear fuel producer TVEL estimates the construction cost for the planned Ukrainian nuclear fuel plant at US$ 300 - 350 million. Russia will provide 60% of the investment sum. The plant is to produce fuel for the Russian WWER-1000 pressurized water reactor line and is to start operation in 2014. (RIA Novosti Oct. 5, 2011)

Ukraine to build nuclear fuel plant in Zhovti Vody, Dnipropetrovsk Region: Ukraine has an intention of building a plant for production of nuclear fuel in the town of Zhovti Vody, Dnipropetrovsk region, Fuel and Energy Minister Yurii Boiko has announced in Kyiv. (Ukrainian News Agency Dec. 7, 2010)

Russia's TVEL and Ukraine's Nuclear Fuel agree to create Joint Venture for producing nuclear fuel in Ukraine: The TVEL company (Russia) and the Nuclear Fuel state concern (Ukraine) have reached agreement on creation of a 50/50 joint venture in Ukraine for production of nuclear fuel for reactors of the type VVER-1000, which are based on Russian technology. TVEL announced this in an official press release.
According to the agreement, the joint venture will have a capacity of 400 tons of uranium per year, and it may begin operation in 2012 if the Ukrainian side quickly selects and approves the site for location of the joint venture and approves the feasibility studies for it. The press release states that the two companies will soon agree and sign a plan of measures for implementation of the project and secure approval of the plan by the nuclear agencies of the two countries and begin registering the joint venture. The agreement also stresses that it is important for Ukraine to timely obtain the licenses and permits for construction, qualification, and operation of the joint venture.
In addition, TVEL affirmed its intention to transfer all the technologies for production of nuclear fuel not later than the year 2020, provide technological support for the operations of the joint venture, train the joint venture's personnel, etc. TVEL will also ensure that the Ukrainian side has access to part of the funds necessary for financing the project, and it affirmed its readiness to supply all missing components for nuclear fuel and facilitate uranium-enrichment operations. The agreement also stressed the possibility of supply of the joint venture's products to the markets of third countries in the future. (Ukrainian News Agency Oct. 27, 2010)

The Ukrainian government has declared Russian TVEL corporation the winner of a tender to build a nuclear fuel plant in Ukraine. According to the tender's terms, Ukraine hopes to have a controlling stake in the future company and insists on receiving the technology for nuclear fuel production by 2020. The new enterprise is slated to begin operation in 2013. By that time the plant will be able to produce fuel rods and assemblies totaling 200 tonnes of uranium equivalent a year. In 2017 capacity to manufacture fuel pellets will increase to 400 tonnes uranium equivalent, and in 2020 - fuel rods and assemblies totaling 400 tonnes of uranium equivalent a year. (Kyiv Post Sep. 22, 2010)

The Ministry of Fuel and Energy this week announced a tender to build a uranium plant and will pick a winner by early October, according to Deputy Fuel and Energy Minister Natalia Shumkova. Russia's OAO Tvel and Toshiba Corp.'s Westinghouse Electric Co. have the experience to build the plant, she said. (Kyiv Post June 26, 2010)

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has endorsed the Nuclear Fuel of Ukraine state program, says Natalia Shumkova, deputy minister of fuel and energy. She says in 2009 - 2013 it is planned to build on the basis of the Novokostiantyniv deposit a hydrometallurgical plant for the processing of uranium ore with a waste storage, launch the production of fuel assemblies, and create a full cycle of zirconium production, including production of tubular steel. In April 2008, the government set up the Nuclear Fuel concern based on the Eastern ore mining and dressing plant, the Novokostiantyniv uranium mine, state-run company Smoly, the Dnipropetrovsk works of precision pipes, and the Ukrainian scientific research, design and exploration institute of industrial technologies. (NRCU Sep. 25, 2009)

Ukraine plans to start production of nuclear fuel assemblies in 2013: Ukraine is planning to produce 50 fuel assemblies (FA) in 2013 under the special state economic program "Nuclear fuel of Ukraine." According to the program, creating the FA production capacities will cost some UAH 3.59 billion [US$ 428 million]. It is planned that UAH 1.285 billion of this amount will be taken from the special fund of the state budget, and UAH 2.305 billion will be raised through attracting investments and funds from enterprises. Ukraine needs to select a potential partner that possesses the technology to produce fuel for water-cooled reactors. Talks were held with JSC TVEL (Russia) and Westinghouse (United States). (Kyiv Post Mar 4, 2009)


RUSSIA   flag

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