The second and final shipment of high-level waste (HLW) from the UK to Switzerland was completed on 13 October. The waste came from used fuel from Swiss NPPs operated by utilities Axpo and BKW Energie. The fuel has been reprocessed at Sellafield's Thorp facility to reduce its volume and to recover fuel materials for recycling. It comprised four flasks, each with 28 containers of HLW in the form of vitrified residues.
International Nuclear Services (INS), a subsidiary of the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, said the flasks were loaded on to the specialist nuclear transport vessel, Oceanic Pintail, which sailed from Barrow on 7 October to the port of Cherbourg in northern France. From there, they were transported by rail to Switzerland. INS said it contracted with its historical partner Areva to safely manage the overland transport in France. The shipment was delivered to the central Zwilag interim waste management facility at Würenlingen in Sewitzerland.
The shipment is the latest in a programme to return foreign-owned waste stored in the UK to its country of origin. Under the Vitrified Residue Return (VRR) programme - a partnership between Sellafield and INS - waste from UK reprocessing services is being returned to overseas customers in Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy over a 10-year period. This will involve 11 shipments to transfer a total of 1,850 canisters. The first shipment was completed in 2010.