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France/Russia - Nuclear waste

French government demands to know about EDF nuclear dumps in Russia

Article published on the 2009-10-14 Latest update 2009-10-14 08:25 TU

EDF is the world's biggest producer of nuclear energy.(Photo: AFP)

EDF is the world's biggest producer of nuclear energy.
(Photo: AFP)

The French government demanded answers from electricity giant EDF on Tuesday after reports claim the company has been sending spent nuclear fuel to Russia.

"I wanted EDF to show transparency on this subject because [it] has indicated that it did not have all the information and that it is up to them to carry out an internal inquiry," French Junior Environment Minister Chantal Jouanno told MPs.

Libération newspaper and an Arte television documentary claim that hundreds of tonnes of uranium have been stored in the open air at a complex in Siberia.

They say that this had been happening since the mid 1990s, and that 13 per cent of used nuclear fuel from the French plants is sent to the Tomsk-7 facility.

However, EDF says that no nuclear waste is sent out of the country. A spokesperson for the company told news agency AFP that it is only “recyclable uranium from fuel processing at EDF nuclear power stations that is transported to Russia to be enriched.”

It is unclear whether the technology exists to re-enrich the uranium in France. A spokesperson for nuclear power group Areva, which is contracted to handle spent nuclear fuel, told AFP that it does not.

But Areva boss Anne Lauvergon told French television on Tuesday that France did have the technology but Areva is waiting for a contract from EDF to do the work in the country.

EDF is the world’s biggest producer of nuclear energy. The French state owns around 85 per cent of the company.

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