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Fresh fuel transport mistake??

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(September 14, 1990) On 11 May 1990, Advanced Nuclear Fuels GmbH (ANF) of Lingen, FRG sent two containers holding 129 kg of enriched uranium nuclear fuel by air via Luxembourg to Richland, Washington, USA. The containers were thought to be empty during a period of five days, and were not detected as full until arrival in the US.

(338.3378) WISE Stockholm - Following the discovery, the Lingen fuel fabrication plant has been put under a four month imposed supervision by West German authorities. This is the maximum penalty possible under paragraph 83 of the Euratom agreement. This is the first known application of paragraph 83 since founding of the Euratom agreement in 1975.

A spokesman for the EEC stated the belief that the containers were empty was a mistake due to human error. The shipment should have consisted of two containers which had come from Richland and were to be sent back empty. Two full containers were added to the shipment by one worker. Then another removed the labels because he thought they were empty. During transport, the difference in weight was not detected. There is speculation, however, that the "mistake" could in fact have been an attempt to avoid extra costs. Full containers require higher, and more costly, security arrangements compared to empty containers. Whatever the reason for the shipment having been handled in the manner it was, an investigation by Euratom concluded that the illegal shipment presented a serious risk to people and the environment.

The vice president for ANF in Lingen, Reinhard Faulhaber, has stated that the sentence is too harsh. Now, radioactivity is measured even for empty containers, so the same mistake should not happen again....


  • Dagens Nyheter (Sweden), 2 Aug. 1990
  • VLT (Sweden), 2 Aug. 1990
  • Taz (FRG), 2 Aug. 1990, p.7 and 3 Aug. 1990 p.4

Contact: BI Lingen, Werner Bussmann, Gardenstr.53, 4470 Geeste, FRG, tel: 49-5-907-545.