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First return shipment of vitrified wastes to Switzerland

Press release

November 28, 2001

One cask of vitrified nuclear wastes will leave the COGEMA-La Hague reprocessing-recycling plant for the Zwilag interim storage center in Switzerland as soon as all operational arrangements are made. This will be on or after 3 Dec. 2001.

This shipment is being made under commercial contracts between COGEMA and Swiss electricity producers that call for a portion of spent fuel from Swiss nuclear power plants to be sent to France for reprocessing(1). The return of the vitrified wastes is also covered by intergovernmental letters between France and Switzerland.

The transport cask being used meets the stringent security standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The transport of nuclear materials is strictly governed by a set of national and international regulations and procedures that ensure a high level of security. The departure date will be confirmed once the operational conditions for the shipment have been decided.

(1) Reprocessing and recycling are industrial operations in which materials with energy value (95% uranium and 1% plutonium) are recovered from the spent fuel and final wastes (fission products) are separated out and conditioned for permanent disposal.