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A spent fuel shipment from Australia to arrive soon at Cherbourg

Press release

March 09, 2001

A shipment of spent fuel from Australia that left the port of Botany, south of Sydney, on 23 January, will arrive next week in the French port of Cherbourg. This spent fuel is being shipped under a contract between COGEMA and the ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation), which was validated by the Australian and French governments through an exchange of letters on 27 August 1999 (published in the French Journal Officiel on 7 January 2000). The 360 spent-fuel elements that make up the shipment come from HIFAR (High Flux Australian Reactor), a research reactor.

The services that COGEMA is supplying the ANSTO include the transportation from Australia to France of the spent-fuel elements, their reprocessing at the COGEMA La Hague plant, the packaging of the final wastes in a stable form and, in accordance with the French law of 30 December 1991, the return of these wastes to Australia for temporary and then permanent storage.

Two more shipments will probably be needed to transport the remainder of the 1,300 fuel elements covered by this contract.  The Australian spent-fuel elements are being transported in special, cylindrical casks weighing about 20 tons each. These casks comply with the strict specifications laid down by the IAEA. To check their resistance and ensure that they are safe, this type of packaging undergoes a series of severe regulatory tests. The casks used for this shipment have been approved by the competent French and Australian security authorities.

This shipment of spent fuel is among those that are regularly arranged between France and the client countries of COGEMA.

The unloading of the Australian fuel can be viewed live at the Web site of the La Hague plant (http://www.cogemalahague.fr/), where it will be transmitted by a webcam installed at the port of Cherbourg.