Swiss end nuclear reprocessing, as Dutch police impound nuclear effluent “being returned” to Switzerland
The Swiss Government announced on Monday that it is to stop sending spent fuel rods from its nuclear power stations for reprocessing. On the same day, Dutch police seized a consignment of radioactive effluent which was "being returned" to Switzerland by Greenpeace.
Switzerland currently has over 640 tonnes of spent fuel contracts with La Hague and about 400 tonnes with the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in the United Kingdom. The ban on reprocessing will not apply to these existing contracts though.
On the same day, officials from the Dutch nuclear waste authority, COVRA, and Dutch police impounded a steel tank containing 2,000 litres of radioactive effluent at the port of Vlissingen in southern Holland. It was due to be returned today by Greenpeace to the nuclear industry in Switzerland, which has spent fuel from its nuclear power plants reprocessed at La Hague.
The tank of radioactive effluent was one of five tanks unloaded at Vlissingen on Saturday from the Greenpeace ship “Strakur” which had collected 9,000 litres of effluent from the end of the French government-owned COGEMA’s discharge pipe at La Hague on the Normandy coast. Four of the tanks were delivered to the Dutch nuclear power station Borssele which also has reprocessing contracts with La Hague.
Dutch police tried to prevent Greenpeace activists from unloading the waste at the power station and the owners of Borssele, EPZ, refused to take responsibility for the La Hague effluent. Last Monday Greenpeace attempted to return 1,000 litres of radioactive effluent to the French authorities in the port of Dielette, near La Hague, but were stopped by French police and the waste was seized and later returned to COGEMA for redischarge into the ocean.
“The Dutch nuclear authorities have seized the radioactive effluent from La Hague because they say it is too dangerous,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Simon Boxer. “However the Dutch government allow their nuclear industry to reprocess its spent fuel at La Hague”.