You are here

French MOX and Melox expansion limited

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 4, 1997) The number of French nuclear reactors with license to use MOX fuel will be limited to 20, despite Electricité de France's wish to burn MOX in at least 28 reactors. The capacity of the Melox fuel plant at Cadarache will be frozen to 115 tons annually, instead of the foreseen 200 t/y.

(482.4788) WISE Amsterdam -Environmental Minister Dominique Voynet and Industry Secretary Christian Pierret have agreed to limit the number of French nuclear power plants burning MOX fuel to 20. The French utility EDF had planned to be burn MOX in 28 NPP around the year 2000. The production capacity of the Melox MOX fuel plant in Cadarache will be frozen at the current capacity of 115 ton MOX fuel per year. Cogema had planned to expand its capacity there to 200 ton/yr (1 ton = 1000kg) in order to win foreign MOX customers.

The government announced that reprocessing of EDF spent fuel will continue but that not all EDF spent fuel will be reprocessed. EDF said that spent MOX fuel will not be reprocessed at all. An EDF policy paper mentioned a level of 1000 tons spent fuel to be reprocessed annually in the next decade. This included 150 tons fuel from the Superphenix. As Superphenix is shut down, the reprocessing needs go down to 850 tons a year. Assuming a plutonium content of 1%, this is about 8,500 kg plutonium. To make recycling this amount of plutonium as MOX worthwhile requires more than 20 units, EDF officials said.

There had been rumors that Cogema was no longer allowed to sign any new reprocessing contracts, but Pierret denied this, saying that Cogema is free to sign new reprocessing contracts with foreign clients. The limits placed on the Melox plant will result in a zero production capacity for foreign customers. The 20 French NPPs which will be allowed to burn one third MOX in their cores will need about 115 ton MOX fuel a year. At the moment, fourteen French NPPs are burning MOX fuel. Two more NPPs will be loaded with MOX fuel next year. A license for four more units at Chinon to burn MOX will be issued soon.


  • Nucleonics Week, 23 October 1997
  • WISE NC 477.4740, 12 September 1997
  • NuclearFuel, 3 November 1997

Contact: Stop Melox, Marc Faivet, Quartier Saint-Hillaire, F-84560 Menerbes, France
Tel/Fax: +33-907-58544