Siemens confirms MOX plant decommissioning

29 November 2000

Siemens Power Generation has given details for the decommissioning of its unused MOX fuel fabrication facility in Hanau (see NEI September 2001, p3).

Siemens made the decision to press ahead with dismantling the plant after the latest G-8 summit failed to make any progress on the question of finance for the project to export equipment to a new MOX production facility in Russia.

The main facilities in question are the incomplete new MOX plant, the existing MOX facility and an existing uranium oxide fuel fabrication. The existing MOX facility had been in operation since 1970, and the uranium oxide plant since 1969. Both facilities ended operation in September 1995.

The overall cost of the project is currently estimated at r700 million. In each case, decommissioning comprises four main stages, each of which requires at least one separate licence: removal of fuel from the processing facilities, dismantling of the processing facilities, dismantling of associated and adjacent facilities, and decontamination/demolition of the buildings themselves.

The current status, and the timetable for subsequent stages, are as follows:

• Uranium oxide plant: In January 1996 the government of the state of Hessen gave the go-ahead for decommissioning of the uranium fuel fabrication plant to begin. The first two stages were completed by March 1999, and licences for the final two stages have since been granted.

• Existing MOX plant: Licences for fuel removal were granted in 1997 and 1998, and this first stage of decommissioning was finally completed in July of this year. The first partial dismantling licence was granted last May.

• Temporary storage: As there is currently no final storage facility in Germany, radioactive waste from both facilities has to be stored temporarily in an on-site facility operated by nuclear services company NCS.

• Timetable for future work: Decommissioning of the existing uranium and MOX fuel plants is scheduled for completion by end 2003 and end 2005 respectively. The land will then be handed over to the Hanau Technology Park for alternative commercial use.

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