MOX : Areva’s Slip-Up and heavy sleep

5 Jul 2017

Areva, a modern day pirate, keeps up maritime expeditions carrying nuclear fuels and fissile materials. The Pacific Egret is a military ship painted in blue. She disconnected her AIS on the 13th of June, 2017. An AIS (Automatic Identification System) allows one to know the position and route of a ship and is essential for maritime safety. There are no surface ships of the French Navy that currently transport cargo and a weapon as formidable as that of The Pacific Egret. Several options are possible for the seagoing voyage from Cherbourg to Japan. Once used in the bygone days of Noriega for sensitive nuclear material, the Panama Canal is no more a viable option for political reasons. Crossing the South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and South Pacific is now the most classic way to go. With the agreement of Vladimir Putin, the Arctic North-East passage off Siberia cannot be completely excluded as an option either.

Franco-Japanese contracts on the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, on the supply of enriched uranium, and of MOX date from the last century, before the era of terrorism, before Fukushima, before Kim Jong-Un, before cyber attacks, and before the financial and strategic failures of Areva, of whom the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) is the primary shareholder.
And yet, this continues with the support of the French government, with the silence of the Ministries of Health and Ecology, with the discharge from the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN).

The MOX strategy is outdated. Only Japan and France, Siamese twins in nukes, continue down this narrow path without issue.
The fresh MOX is a nightmare. Its making, handling, and transport on the road or at sea exposes workers, the population, and the environment to aggravated radiological risks.
Spent MOX is also a terror. In an aging and vulnerable plant in The Hague peninsula, about 1500 tons of MOX are in the process of being cooled in pools of which the water must constantly be refreshed. Due to the thermal power of plutonium, the splash method will last several centuries before a dry storage solution can be considered.

But the rush forward continues. In 1987, the amount of plutonium in MOX fuel was 5%. In 2007 it passed 8%, and the French Nuclear Safety Authority was close to accepting a total amount of plutonium just about 9%. According to one of Areva’s documents, certain clients (no doubt, Japanese) order MOX fuel with a plutonium content of 12%.

“The choice to use MOX fuel in its reactors is dependent on the industrial strategy of EDF. ASN is not coming to a conclusion on this strategy. *” ASN has also not concluded on the use of MOX in Japanese reactors even though Fukushima Daiichi reactor n°3, which used French MOX, dispersed plutonium particles all throughout the Pacific Ocean and on land.

The issues of the nuclear spent fuel reprocessing, of the extraction of plutonium and of plutonium reuse in MOX should be put into question and re-examined by the French State and notably by the Minister of the Ecology. No government to this point has had this courage, insight, or independence.

Read also
The MOX killer. June 29, 2017





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