Nagra refutes involvement with transmutation tech start-up

May 31, 2024, 11:59AMRadwaste Solutions
Transmutex’s transmutation reactor. (Image: Transmutex)

Switzerland’s national cooperative for the disposal of radioactive waste, Nagra, is distancing itself from recent reports regarding the work of the Geneva-based engineering start-up Transmutex, which claims to have developed a new technology for the transmutation of radioactive waste.

Articles in the Financial Times and elsewhere report that Transmutex’s particle accelerator technology could reduce the amount of high-level radioactive waste by 80 percent by transmuting it into less-long-lived isotopes. The Financial Times reported on May 25 that Nagra had spent “several months exploring the method proposed” by Transmutex.

“The article published by the Financial Times is misleading, quoting us on statements that we never made,” Nagra wrote on its website. “The article claims that ‘Switzerland’ now supports transmutation and that Nagra is a Swiss authority. It also states that a ‘joint study’ was conducted over several months, while we merely exchanged information with Transmutex.

“These and other statements are misleading, which is why we wish to distance ourselves from this article.”

Need for disposal: Nagra noted that Switzerland’s current legislation does not permit the use of transmutation as a method for managing the country’s nuclear waste. The organization also said that a transmutation reactor would also produce radioactive waste, which would have to be disposed of in a deep geological repository. Low- and intermediate-level waste cannot be transmuted and must also be disposed of in a repository.

Founded in 1972 by Switzerland’s radioactive waste producers, Nagra is developing a deep geological repository for the country’s waste. In 2022, Nagra identified Nördlich Lägern, located in northern Switzerland near the German border, as the most suitable area for a geologic repository with the best overall safety reserves.

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