Countering Capenhurst – Our Hex and Export Concerns

This is a special issue of Countering Capenhurst.

Finding out just what goes on at Capenhurst is very difficult to do, and the same applies to all of the URENCO plants.

What follows is just a summary of what we have managed to find out about the plant of late, and something about which countries URENCO has been trading with.

A question of Hex

We continue to keep asking about just what is going on at Capenhurst, with questions such as:-

How much depleted Uranium Hexafluoride is stored at Capenhurst?

&

What is the state of the Uranium Hex containers ?

Yet there is an aspect of this which very few people have ever heard about.

There is a clue to it within the following  Review by HM Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.

Urenco (Capenhurst) Ltd’s strategy for decommissioning its nuclear licensed site.

 ‘UCL has an ongoing contract, up for renewal in 2007, with Technabexport of Russia, which takes ex UCL tails cylinders and re-enriches the material to low enrichment product and/or pseudo natural. The product is sold on and the pseudo natural is re-fed or sold on. The operation of this contract is maintaining a steady state of net tails stocks on Capenhurst site.’

That’s something which URENCO has kept very quiet about.

Shipping information

We recently came upon a German  BREMISCHE BÜRGERSCHAFT report which listed the movement of uranium through the port of Bremin.

This included uranium being sent from Urenco to Russia.

Two of the latest of these reports are

Atomtransporte durch das Land Bremen seit dem 30. Juni 2014

&

Atomtransporte durch das Land Bremen seit dem 30. Juni 2013

The importance of these reports is that they give some clues as to just which companies and countries URENCO is traiding with.

Europe’s radioactive secret

Then we came upon the following report which was published in 2005,  and which has not been followed up on.

Europe’s radioactive secret.

How EDF and European nuclear utilities are dumping nuclear waste in the Russian Federation

‘ This report summarises the secretive attempts of the European nuclear industry to ‘solve’ one of their largest waste problems, by exporting and dumping tens of thousands of tonnes of uranium wastes in Siberia, in the Russian Federation.’

This last document is very worrying indeed.

The Re-enrichment of West European Depleted Uranium Tails in Russia

The information contained in this document are very technical in nature.

So rather than give an analysis of what is in this document we will just give the following summary from this report.

‘ Since 1996, depleted uranium tails from West European enrichers Urenco and Eurodif are being sent to Russia for re-enrichment. In Russia, the imported tails are, instead of natural uranium, fed into surplus enrichment cascades. The product obtained from re-enrichment is mostly natural-equivalent uranium plus some reactor-grade low-enriched uranium.

These products are sent back to Urenco and Eurodif, while the secondary tails generated remain in Russia,where they are re-enriched further to obtain morenatural-equivalent uranium and/or slightly enriched uranium. The latter is then used as blendstock for the downblending of surplus highly-enriched weapons-grade uranium into reactor-grade low-enriched uranium. The ultimate tails left, still comprising at least two thirds of the amount imported, remain in Russia with unknown fate.’

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‘Details on the re-enrichment business, though it is currently taking place at large scale, are hardly obtainable. In Russia, all related information is confidential; and, the West-European enrichment companies involved, Urenco and Eurodif, are not very communicative, to put it politely. In its recent annual reports, Urenco not even discloses its annual production figure, nor the capacity break down for its facilities, not to speak about other data of interest, such as amount and assays of tails produced.’

We will continue to keep searching for more information on these contacts.

How Much Depleted Hex Is At Capenhust ? ? ?

How Much Hex ?

Uranium Hexafluoride is highly toxic, radioactive, corrosive to most metals, and reacts violently with water.

One of the questions we have been asking since the Close Capenhurst Campaign was established is just how much Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride is stored at the URENCO Capenhurst site.

The best answer we have received is ‘ A vast Quantity’,which is also the only way we have been able to describe it.

We just don’t know.

Although one recent article stated that it is some 60,000 tonnes.

This is exactly what we want to know.

 

1. How many containers of Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride are stored at the Capenhurst site ?

2. What is the total mass of Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride which each of the containers at Capenhurst can hold ?

3. What is the total mass of Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride which is stored at the Capenhurst site ?

&

4. How much of the Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride will the new tailing plant at Capenhurst be able to process each hour ?

We recently submitted these questions to the Office of Nuclear Regulation as a Freedom of Information request.

This is the response which we received from them: –

‘We receive updates (a month in arrears from relevant UK dutyholders) on the amounts of material held on sites that are under our Nuclear Safeguards regime. Whilst we hold some of the data you require, we unfortunately do not receive it in the format that you have requested – it would take a significant amount of time to interrogate the data, to extract the specific volume of Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride and provide the information in the requested format, approximately 60 man hours at a cost of £900 over and above the £600 or 3 days’ effort that you are assigned under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We cannot release the data set in its entirety as it contains Sensitive Nuclear Information, which would need to be redacted/extracted under section 24 of FOIA, National Security.’

In other words

They would only be willing to let us have the answer, if we were willing to give them £900.

This ‘fee’ will then be used to redact much of the information from any reply which we might receive.

Our response to this is as follows.

– 1. That what we asked for relates to a matter of very great public concern, and should be freely available to us all.

– 2. That we Do Not intend to pay out any money in order to maintain the secrecy which is an integral part of how the Nukiller Industry operates.

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– 3. That we will continue to keep asking the same questions until we get the information which we require.