UK plutonium samples arrive in France for testing

2 December 2019

UK plutonium samples totalling a few hundred grams are to be tested at the Orano Melox site in France to see whether it can be converted into mixed oxide (mox) pellets. The samples arrived by sea in Cherbourg aboard the Pacific-Egret on 26 November and continued to the Melox site by road, French media reported on 28 November.

Orano TN is organising the transport on behalf of International Nuclear Services (INS), a subsidiary of the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Agency (NDA). "The samples are packaged in a packaging specifically designed to ensure the containment of the material and the safety of the transport,” Orano said. "These packages have been approved by the British government authorities (Office for Nuclear Regulation) and French Nuclear Safety Authority, in accordance with national and international regulations," Orano added.

The samples will be "used in the Melox laboratory test chain for analysis and verification of the feasibility of converting British plutonium oxide into Mox pellets, which will then be recycled. in the industrial process of the plant and used to make fuel to provide electricity on the European market," said Orano’s information service. "In France, 10% of nuclear electricity comes from the recovery of recycled materials. This transport is part of an agreement between NDA and Orano which aims to provide our UK partner with technical expertise on the option of recycling its stock of plutonium oxide, stored on the site of Sellafield in England", Orano added.

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