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20 Aug 2021, 13:29
Benjamin Wehrmann

Germany agrees to repatriate remainder of highly radioactive waste treated in France

AFP / n-tv / Clean Energy Wire

Germany has agreed to repatriate several tonnes of highly radioactive nuclear waste from the French reprocessing plant La Hague, news agency AFP reports in an article carried by n-tv. A remainder of about three percent of a total volume of 5,310 tonnes of waste from German nuclear plants run by operators RWE, EnBW, Vattenfall and PreussenElektra will be repatriated until 2024 in a contract worth over one billion euros. Germany is obliged to take back the waste, which was treated by French company Orano in La Hague, according to a treaty with neighbouring France. While the remaining waste is only a small fraction of the total treated in France, it contains the bulk of all radioactive material. Processing company Orano said contracts for nuclear waste deliveries from Germany to France were made between 1977 and 1991 and covered the "recycling" of fuel elements and conditioning of "residual" waste.

Environmental groups have criticised the term "reprocessing plant" as only a small percentage of the total waste can be reused in new fuel rods, the article says. The highly radioactive waste therefore needs to be held in interim storages until a final repository has been found. Like almost every other country in the world, Germany has yet to find an appropriate location for storing away its nuclear waste safely for possibly over one million years. The search for a final repository that is scheduled to be completed in the 2030s has run into its first major difficulties in Germany, with some state councils demanding their region be ruled out as a possible location. 

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