AREVA has been running since decades nuclear reprocessing and recycling installations in France. Several industrial facilities have been built and used to this aim across the time.
Following those decades and with the more and more precise monitoring of the impact of those installations, precise data and lessons-learned have been collected that can be used for the stakeholders of potential new facilities.
China has expressed strong interest in building such facilities. As a matter of fact, the issue of accumulation of spent fuel is becoming serious in China and jeopardizes the operation of several nuclear power plants, through the running out of space of storage pools. Tomorrow, with the extremely high pace of nuclear development of China, accumulation of spent fuel will be unbearable.
Building reprocessing and recycling installations takes time. A decision has to be taken so as to enable the responsible development of nuclear in China. Without a solution for the back end of its nuclear fuel cycle, the development of nuclear energy will face a wall.
This is what the Chinese central government, through the action of its industrial CNNC, has well understood. Several years of negotiations have been held with AREVA. Everybody in the sector seems now convinced.
However, now that the negotiation is coming to an end, an effort should be done towards all the stakeholders, sharing actual information from France’s reference facilities on: safety, security, mitigation measures for health protection (of the workers, of the public), mitigation measures for the protection of the environment.
Most of this information is public, as France has since years promulgated a law on Nuclear transparency. China is also in need for more transparency, yet lacks means to access this public information, often in French language, so let’s open our books!