Review of the public inquiry concerning the La Hague plant
June 07, 2000
Is the aim of the public inquiry to boost the production of the plant?
No, it is not aimed at increasing production. The aim is to adapt the operation of the installations at La Hague to the technical developments in the fuels used in nuclear power reactors. Concerning the specific point of production levels, COGEMA is keen to give each of its production units at La Hague (UP2 800 and UP3) a capacity of 1000 tons/year instead of the 850 authorized today.
The idea is to gain in industrial flexibility to spread the workload more evenly between the two units, and not to increase total production: the unchanged target is a maximum production of 1,700 tons/year for all the installations.
What's the connection between the public inquiry and the plant's releases?
As we saw earlier, the objective of the public inquiry is the industrial optimization of the La Hague facility. To do this, the complete impact study of the releases was carried out, making it possible not only to keep the public fully informed on the subject, but also to explain the release reduction policy.
Annual releases from La Hague are in any case kept far below the authorized level (0.15 mSv), and will continue to decrease in the future. In fact, the ultimate aim of any industrial activity is to tend towards zero detriment.
The new progress guidelines examined by COGEMA will help reduce the impact of the operations of the facility to a value lower than 0.03 mSv, a level considered by the experts as the operational translation of the "zero impact" concept.
As to the release limits set by the authorities, the latter have already announced that they will take account of the results of this public inquiry and will examine COGEMA's progress guidelines to review the level of these permits downward.
How far are we in the public inquiry process?
The public consultation phase was completed on May 17, and the inquiry commission will now be filing its report. It will then be up to the government to examine COGEMA's application. For further information on the subject, consult the heading "Public inquiry" on the Internet site http://www.cogemalahague.com/.