On site laboratories (OSL) 10 years logo© EU
New JRC report: safeguarding nuclear reprocessing plants
The JRC's Institute for Transuranium elements (ITU) and DG Energy's Nuclear Safeguards Directorate have published a report about the work performed at the on site laboratories (OSL) of the two largest nuclear sites within the EU: La Hague in France and Sellafield in the United Kingdom.
These two sites reprocess part of the nuclear spent fuel produced in the EU. Under the Euratom Treaty, the European Commission has the duty to assure that this material is only used for declared purposes. The aim of safeguards is to deter diversion of nuclear material from peaceful use by maximising the chance of early detection. As part of the safeguards approach of a reprocessing plant, both incoming material and end products have to be verified and quantified.
These laboratories were set up more than 10 years ago and since then, JRC-ITU scientists operate them, collecting and analysing on average 800 samples per year. The OSL are independent from the operators and allow for timely information and increased efficiency and cost effectiveness.
The report provides an overview of their functioning. It highlights for instance the improvement done in the measurement accuracy of the nuclear materials after separation of the spent fuel (i.e. quantities of uranium and plutonium), which has been reduced to 0,1% from an initial 1% when the laboratories were set up. This allows for a much more precise nuclear material inventory.