October 19, 2017

Dessel: a new step forward with the dismantling of the site

On October 9, 2017, the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (Agence Fédérale de Contrôle Nucléaire – AFCN) gave its approval for the demolition of buildings 1 & 2 of the plant of FBFC International, a subsidiary of AREVA NP, located in Dessel (Belgium) and which is part of the Fuel BU.

"This authorization marks another important step forward on the project. Three of the five nuclear buildings of which the site was made up at the start of dismantling have now been decommissioned. It allows us to continue with the works in progress and meet our undertakings to the Belgian authorities" said André Basset, Director of the site. "It also allows us to turn a new page in the history of the site. First opened in 1960, building 1 accommodated the administrative services and the quality analysis laboratory while building 2 was the first building used for the fabrication of fuel."

Demolition operations began as soon as approval was received from the AFCN and are set to last 4 months. They will be carried out in compliance with safety and security rules drawn up specifically for this type of worksite and in agreement with the local authorities.

Review of successive phases in the dismantling process

  • April 2012: halting of production of uranium fuel assemblies and start of operations to dismantle workshops
  • 2013-2014: disassembly of production equipment
  • June 2015: shipment of last MOX* fuel assembly manufactued at Dessel
  • 2015-2016: cleanup of buildings 1, 2, 3 and 5
  • July 2016: start of inspections operations for buildings 1 and 2, an essential step in the process, the purpose of which is to check that the cleanup operations have eliminated all traces of contamination
  • End of 2018: nearly 50 people, from around ten different sub-contractors, work in succession to complete dismantling work on the site

* MOX: MOX fuel (Mixed Oxide Fuel) is a nuclear fuel made from a mixed oxide, a mixture of uranium oxide and plutonium oxide

About FBFC in brief

The FBFC International site produced fuel assemblies for nuclear reactors on the Western European market. It also produced components used in the manufacturing of assemblies.

It was in August 1958 that the Belgian companies “Métallurgie Hoboken” and “Fabrique Nationale” decided to join forces to create a joint subsidiary for the fabrication of nuclear fuel: the company went by the name of “Métallurgie et Mécanique Nucléaires” (MMN).

In December 1973, MMN and Eurofuel, a holding company with Péchiney, Framatome and Westinghouse as shareholders, created the company FBFC to provide support for the rapidly developing French nuclear market. In 1986, FBFC Dessel became a Belgian company, a subsidiary first of FBFC, then of AREVA NP, changing its name to FBFC International.

In 1975 and 1976, prior to the commissioning of the Romans plant, it was at Dessel that the first cores of the first two French pressurized water reactors for Fessenheim were manufactured.

In 1987, the industrial production of MOX fuel began using rods originating first from Belgonucléaire, then from Cadarache, then MELOX.

Find out more

Since 1974, 28,762 fuel assemblies, including 3,209 MOX assemblies, have been delivered on time to customers in Europe (Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, France and Belgium) and in Japan.

1 fuel assembly provides electricity during its 4 year operation time for about 10,000 domestic homes on a continuous basis, every year.