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Australia’s top secret and expensive shipment of nuclear waste to France

Tight security for shipment of nuclear waste from Lucas Heights to France, THE AUSTRALIAN, SIAN POWELL, 12 APR 18 A top-secret security operation to send spent radioactive fuel rods from Australia’s nuclear reactor to France for reprocessing is planned for the coming months.

Potentially involving hundreds of state and federal police, the details of the transport operation will remain confidential until after the shipment arrives at La Hague, in northwest France.

Unused uranium and plutonium will then be removed from the fuel rods, and the residual waste eventually returned to Australia for storage. About 500kg of unused low-enriched uranium and 4.5kg of unused plutonium will be recovered from the rods…

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation at Lucas Heights in Sydney’s south has confirmed the shipment will be trucked to a port for transport to La Hague midway through this year.

The route, the port, the time and the ship, as well as the numbers of ­security personnel, will remain confidential until after the mission is completed.

The last shipment of spent rods was sent to the US in 2009, and both Port Kembla and Port Botany have been used as shipment ports in the past.

When reprocessed nuclear waste was returned to Australia in 2015 for storage at Lucas Heights, more than 500 police were ­deployed to guard the shipment, and it is expected at least that number will guard the radioactive cargo destined for France.

The radioactive spent fuel rods will be packed into an undisclosed number of ­immensely tough lead and stainless steel transport casks for the journey to France.

“These casks are purpose-­engineered to safely transport this type of material without risk to people or the environment,” said the manager of the multipurpose OPAL Reactor at Lucas Heights, Dave Vittorio. “Even a jet plane strike could not penetrate them.”

The total cost of the project is $45 million, including the contract with France, equipment, staff costs, and incidentals.

…… Australia, like other nations, pays to use the La Hague facility’s infrastructure and expertise. The shipment will be the 10th export of spent nuclear fuel ­assemblies used in the OPAL ­reactor’s first 10 years of operation. ….https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/tight-security-for-shipment-of-nuclear-waste-from-lucas-heights-to-france/news-story/5549c370206c15aa1bc1a4b2367d6552

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April 14, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA, safety

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