Fuel Elements from Russian Production for German Nuclear Power Plants

Berlin, 02.03.2000

The planned use in German nuclear power plants of fuel elements produced in Russia is being described as "irresponsible" by opponents of nuclear power. The German Atomic Forum is now stating its view on this matter.

Organisations such as Greenpeace that oppose nuclear power will resort to any means of attacking the German nuclear energy industry. However, the green "peace" organisation is obviously failing to recognise that the use of these fuel elements, in which reprocessed nuclear fuel from Russian military stockpiles is used, is making a contribution to securing peace and promoting disarmament which the German federal government also desires. Displaying considerable ignorance, Greenpeace insists that "highly enriched weapons-grade uranium should be diluted so that it can no longer be used for bombs". That is exactly what is being done by making peaceful use of this uranium.

The "enriched reprocessed uranium" (ERU) fuel elements are produced out of a mixture of uranium from the French Cogema reprocessing plant and depleted uranium drawn from Russian military arsenals.

The firm of Siemens/KWU has been collaborating successfully for a number of years with the firm of Machinstroitelni Zavod (MSZ) in the Russian city of Elektrostal. MSZ possesses ultra-modern production equipment, fully up to western quality standards. Siemens supplies Russia with the cladding tubes of the fuel rods and the heads of the fuel elements from Germany, and production is governed by Siemens specifications and monitored by Siemens experts.

The first trial consignments of fuel rods made from "fresh" uranium were used as long ago as 1995 in the German nuclear power plant at Obrigheim and in the Swiss reactor at Gösgen. In 1996 and 1997, so-called precursor fuel elements came into use in Obrigheim and demonstrated very good operating behaviour. Numerous German power companies are planning to use the fuel elements from Russia in their nuclear power plant. The authorities have commissioned experts to examine the production process, and this evaluation is already in hand.

In summary: The use in German nuclear power plants of fuel elements produced in Russia has been a familiar feature for many years. The production process represents a major contribution to disarmament, and is thus stabilising peace in Europe.


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