Protest Message: “Bnfl Never Again !”

Environmental NGO Resolution

Eighth International Energy Forum Osaka, Japan
20 September 2002

Green Action Press Release and Briefing
On Eve of Return Shipment of Falsified BNFL MOX Fuel

3 July 2002

For immediate release
Contact: Aileen Mioko Smith or Stephen Ready
Mobile 090-3620-9251

Kyoto, Japan – BNFL and Kansai Electric are in the final stages of preparation for loading 8 falsified MOX fuel assemblies onto the Pacific Pintail for a return shipment to the United Kingdom. The falsified MOX has already been loaded into the transport cask, and the cask is expected to be loaded onto the Pacific Pintail on 4 July 2002.

Green Action’s message is: ‘BNFL never again in Japan! Japan’s plutonium utilization plans should be scrapped.’ BNFL continues to cover up the real extent of the 1999 safety data falsification scandal and is attempting to use this shipment to re-start its business in Japan. En route countries strongly oppose this shipment.

MOX Fuel Scandal Cover Up Continues – BNFL has not improved

In December 1999, BNFL and Kansai Electric admitted quality control safety data for the Takahama Unit 4 MOX fuel had been falsified after citizens’ groups analyzing the data and found it falsified, and 212 residents of Fukui and Kansai took Kansai Electric to court seeking an injunction on the use of the fuel.

A February 2000 report by the British government’s Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) determined that falsification at BNFL had taken place since 1996, and that ’systematic management failures’ allowed data falsification to take place. In July 2000, BNFL formally agreed to Japanese demands to return the falsified MOX fuel to the United Kingdom at it’s own expense.

BNFL’s objective for taking back the fuel is to pave the way for negotiations with Japanese electric utilities for new MOX fuel fabrication contracts at the company’s Sellafield MOX Plant (SMP) which was given permission to operate in October 2001, in spite of a lack of contracts.

BNFL claims that it has learned from the data falsification incident and has taken steps to improve it’s management but this is far from the truth. BNFL has neglected to get to the bottom of the 1999 MOX scandal including refusing to examine evidence that it deliberately falsified safety data for the Takahama nuclear power plant in order to pass sub-standard fuel on to Japan. BNFL has also never pursued an investigation to get to the bottom of who and how the Kansai Electric fuel was sabotaged where screw and concrete were mixed in with the fuel. Since 1999, BNFL has been prosecuted for various violations at Sellafield and the company has continued to cover up incidents and accidents at their facilities.


Since the December 1999 data falsification scandal, Japan’s MOX fuel utilization plans, commonly referred to as the pluthermal program, have been suspended in all three prefectures (Fukui, Niigata, and Fukushima) scheduled to implement the program.


In a May 2001 referendum in Kariwa, Niigata Prefecture, a majority voted against implementation of the pluthermal program in Tokyo Electric’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Unit 3 reactor. Following the referendum, the mayor of the village and the mayor of neighboring Kashiwazaki City and the governor of Niigata determined that the program could not go forward without a change in the will of the people. On the one-year anniversary of the Kariwa referendum, an opinion poll conducted by the Niigata Nippo newspaper concluded that there had been little change in opinion since the referendum, and that a majority of people is still opposed to MOX utilization.


In February 2001 Fukushima Prefecture governor Eisaku Sato decided that he would not allow the loading of Belgonucleaire fabricated MOX fuel stored at the reactor site into the Fukushima Dai-ichi Unit 3 Reactor. Instead, he announced that the prefecture would carry out a fundamental review of the national government’s energy policy, including reprocessing and the pluthermal program.

Governor Sato recently announced that the review committee will issue its interim report prior to the September 2002 legislative session. On 3 June 2002, Governor Sato met with regional Fukushima mayors, and suggested the review will conclude that the pluthermal program should be frozen. The governor pointed out the high cost of implementing the program, and questioned the national government’s policy of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel when fast breeder reactor development plans have collapsed and uranium resources are plentiful. He has suggested a ‘once-through cycle’ where there is no MOX fuel utilization and spent nuclear fuel is stored rather than reprocessed.


The falsification scandal put a complete stop to the pluthermal program in Fukui. Governor Yukiio Kurita’s position has been that only after the return of the shipment would Fukui even deliberate on the pluthermal program again.

In Fukui, in November 1999 just before the Takahama Unit 4 fuel was officially found to be falsified, 21% of the population of Takahama had signed a petition seeking a referendum on the pluthermal program. Although in January 2000 the town legislature turned down this request, subsequent actions taken by the Fukushima governor and in Kariwa, Niigata by citizen referendum have most likely had an effect on stalling the program further in Fukui.

One thing is clear. Trust in BNFL has been destroyed in Fukui Prefecture. On 1 July Takahama and Obama residents from the prefecture visited the British Embassy in Tokyo. Their message, ‘ We, the residents of Takahama, are against the pluthermal programme itself, but above and beyond this even more anxious about having fuel used in our town which is manufactured by a company like BNFL. We also cannot believe the British government’s claim that ‘BNFL has improved’. We will adamantly refuse MOX fuel to be brought into Japan from a company such as BNFL, and this resolution will never change.’


On 2 July, Green Action and Mihama-no-Kai submitted a letter to Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transportation (MLIT) not to use the MOX transport cask for the BNFL falsified fuel, because safety checks on the cask have not been performed. Of particular concern is corrosion of the cask. Kansai Electric has also skipped the ‘cask approval’ application. MLIT admits skipping this approval for a nuclear transport cask is ‘unprecedented’.

On 27 June, MLIT issued an official notification instructing Tokyo Electric and Kansai Electric to refrain from using ‘TN model’ MOX transport casks until a corrosion inspection has been carried out to guarantee safety of the casks. This notification follows an investigation by the two utilities which determined that metal corrosion may be the cause of the rising of heat radiation fins on these the TN model MOX transport casks currently stored in France.

Kansai Electric claims that there is no corrosion on the Excellox model cask which is to be used in the upcoming BNFL MOX fuel return shipment because the ’structure of the cask is different.’ However, the company admitted that Excellox model casks were regularly exposed to water during their use as a spent nuclear fuel transport casks, and that no tests for corrosion have taken place on the current Excellox transport cask since it was modified to be used as a MOX fuel transport cask six years ago.

There are also concerns that the nuclear transport freighters the Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal to be used for the imminent shipment themselves have serious corrosion problems.


Japanese electric utilities currently have more than 32 tons of separated plutonium, and no realistic plans to consume it. Utilization of MOX fuel in light water reactors reduces the safety margin of these reactors, and there are proliferation concerns involved with the fabrication and transportation of plutonium fuel. For these reasons, Green Action is calling for the immediate immobilization of all Japanese civil plutonium.


Over 50 countries are on record as having protested shipments of Japanese nuclear materials. The upcoming shipment is taking place without prior notification of the transport route and consent of en route countries. No environmental assessment has been undertaken, and there is no adequate liability regime or contingency plans in case of emergency. Kansai Electric is on record stating there will be no additional ‘post September 11′ security for the shipment. The utility also states, ‘It would take a lawsuit to substantiate who is the owner of these MOX fuel assemblies.’

Green Action
Suite 103, 22-75 Tanaka Sekiden-cho, Sakyo-ku Kyoto 606-8203 Japan
T + 81 75 701 7223
F + 81 75 702 1952

Information Concerning Imminent Shipment of Falsified MOX Fuel from Japan to United Kingdom

Suspicions of Corrosion of Transport Cask and Transport Vessel

It was reported in 29 June Fukui Newspaper that 8 MOX fuel assemblies with falsified quality control data could leave Takahama, Fukui Prefecture as early as 4 July 2002. However, there are suspicions about corrosion of the transport cask and corrosion of the steel plate tank tops of the transport vessel.

An investigation by Tokyo Electric and Kansai Electric showed that metal corrosion led to the rising of the heat radiation fins on TN model transport casks currently stored in France. On 27 June, Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport issued an official notification instructing the companies to refrain use the TN model transport casks until a corrosion inspection has been carried out to guarantee safety of the casks.

The transport cask to be used in the imminent return shipment is an excellox model cask. Kansai Electric claims that “the structure is different therefore there is no corrosion.” However, Green Action and Mihama-no-Kai met with Kansai Electric officials at the companies headquarters in Osaka on 1 July 2002, and confirmed that the Excellox casks were also exposed to water when they were used as spent nuclear fuel transport casks. In order to use the casks as MOX fuel transport casks, the company carried out a series of modifications including installing a layer of resin around the body of the cask and an outer metal layer to cover the resin. Prior to these installations six years ago, the company carried out a visual inspection of the cask to check for corrosion. However, since the modifications have been completed no inspections for corrosion have taken place.

Green Action and Mihama-no-Kai submitted a list of demands to MLIT Minister Chikage Ogi on 2 July, calling for MLIT to act on the ministry’s own official notification of 27 July, and instruct Kansai Electric not to use the Excellox cask to return MOX fuel until an inspection for corrosion has been carried out by the company. This evening, Green Action and Mihama-no-Kai will attend a meeting with MLIT officials organized by Japanese Diet members. We will continue to keep you posted about details concerning the transport cask issue and other issues concerning this return shipment of MOX fuel.

With regards to corrosion of the transport vessels, on 27 June 2002, UK Parliamentarian David Chaytor sent a letter to British Secretary of State for Transport which points out that initial results of tests on vessels owned and operated by Pacific Nuclear Transport Ltd (PNTL) indicate the possibility of serious corrosion problems affecting all ships within the PNTL fleet. We have enclosed a copy of the letter for your convenience.

If you have any questions please contact Aileen Mioko Smith at 090-3620-9251.


  1. Nuclear Fuel June 24, 2002 ‘Fukushima, Intervenors Query Integrity of Cask On Eve of MOX Transport to UK
  2. David Chaytor, Member of Parliament, Bury North, 27 June 2002 letter to Rt. Hon. Alistair Darling MP, Secretary of State for Transport
Green Action
Suite 103, 22-75 Tanaka Sekiden-cho, Sakyo-ku Kyoto 606-8203 Japan
T + 81 75 701 7223
F + 81 75 702 1952

Fukui citizens’ letter to Tokyo British Embassy concerning the falsified BNFL MOX fuel shipment back to Britain

H.M.. Ambassador Stephen Gomersall
British Embassy in Japan
1 Ichiban-cho,Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 〒102-8381 Japan

1 July 2002

Dear Ambassador Stephen Gomersall:

On 14 June, a BNFL vessel from the United Kingdom arrived in Takahama to take back the “falsified data MOX fuel”. To us in Takahama, we feel as though this will break our hearts. The reason is, if the falsified MOX fuel is returned to the United Kingdom, it could result in further MOX fuel fabrication which could then lead to forced implementation of the pluthermal programme at the Takahama nuclear power plant, and as a result of BNFL fabricating new fuel, the Sellafield region will be, as in the past, forced to be exposed further to environmental contamination from worsening radioactivity. Furthermore, there is also anxiety about terrorist attacks and accidents during the shipment, and many en route countries have voiced opposition due to these concerns.

Our town Takahama has a population of 12,200 people, and is located in an area of scenic beauty within the Wakasa Bay National Park. There are four nuclear power plants in our town. There are 15 nuclear power plants of various design, including those in Takahama, concentrated in a straight line of only 60 kilometres along Wakasa Bay. We, the residents, have no choice but to live with this danger twenty-four hours a day.

We are sure you already know that the Japanese government has to date promoted the nuclear fuel cycle as a fundamental part of its atomic energy policy. However, seven years ago (in 1995) the Monju fast breeder reactor which was a central part of this policy had a fateful accident, and as a result of opposition from a large number of prefectural residents, the national government’s fast breeder reactor development plans have reached a deadlock. Since then, plans to use plutonium in light water reactors, the pluthermal programme, which had previously played only a secondary role, has been forced upon us. We the local residents don’t understand difficult technical issues. However, scientists around the world warn about the dangers of the pluthermal programme, and it is said the programme is not economic. Also the world trend, even among the small number of countries which have implemented pluthermal programmes, is to withdraw from them. The Japanese government is clinging to the nuclear fuel cycle, going against this widespread trend. For this reason, Japan’s atomic energy policy is becoming more contradictory and chaotic, and is leading the Japanese public into an irreconcilable quagmire even on into the future. We residents absolutely refuse by all means to become foolish victims of such government policies.

The people who are promoting nuclear power and the pluthermal programme say that “electricity is necessary.” Yes, electricity is necessary. However, why is electricity necessary It is needed to make human lives more convenient and comfortable. If for that reason, danger or disaster is brought about including into future generations, then what is the reason for doing it in the first place Isn’t what is necessary now the search for safer ways of generating the necessary electricity And already there are many new energy development and research programmes being promoted throughout the world. We are praying from our hearts that the Japanese government will also make a fundamental policy shift toward the direction being taken by the rest of the world.

In your country there are also probably various circumstances surrounding your atomic energy policy. Although it is presumptuous for us to say this, BNFL’s state of operations is extremely terrible. The other day we invited to our town Mr. Martin Forwood, a resident of Sellafield in your country, and we heard him speak about various things. We participants were all shocked to hear what he had to say. This is because his region was even more contaminated with radioactivity than we had imagined, and that cancer and leukemia has increased among the local people. And he said that the people have no choice but to live in these conditions. Even though it is clear that this is the effect of long term discharges of radioactivity from BNFL, why has the government or the company not stood in the shoes of the residents and made changes for the better Listening to Mr. Forwood’s presentation, we could clearly understand how the innate characteristics of the company BNFL lead to the dishonest fabrication of MOX fuel bound for use at the Takahama nuclear power plant. We, the residents of Takahama, are against the pluthermal programme itself, but above and beyond this even more anxious about having fuel used in our town which is manufactured by a company like BNFL. We also cannot believe the British government’s claim that ‘BNFL has improved’. We will adamantly refuse MOX fuel to be brought into Japan from a company such as BNFL, and this resolution will never change.

We believe that science is for human progress and happiness. Nuclear power still has many unresolved problems and is an incomplete technology. No matter which way it is looked upon, it will not bring about human happiness. The pluthermal programme only increases these dangers. Please don’t allow the use of this material for commercial trade. Please don’t push forward the sales of MOX fuel in Japan. Please don’t subject the Takahama people to further danger. And at the same time, please help the people of Sellafield. Speaking for the people of Takahama, we call on you from the bottom of our hearts.

Sincerely yours,

Member, Representative Committee
Group to Realize a Takahama Town Local Referendum Ordinance
1-46-4 Kotoshiro, Takahama-cho, Fukui-ken 〒919-2221
Member, Representative Committee
Group to Realize a Takahama Town Local Referendum Ordinance
Member, Representative Committee
Group to Realize a Takahama Town Local Referendum Ordinance
Permanent Board Member
Fukui Prefectural Citizens’ Organization Against Nuclear Power Plants
Masaharu IKENO
Obama Citizens Against Nuclear Reactor Establishment

Japanese Citizens Groups Slam British Nuclear Fuels and Kansai Electric for Preparing to Undertake Irresponsible and Dangerous Plutonium MOX Shipment

Green Action and Mihama-no-Kai Petition Government and Kansai Electric to Investigate Return Shipment MOX Transport Cask for Possible Corrosion

For immediate release: 14 June 2002 For more information contact: Aileen Mioko Smith or Stephen Ready Mobile: 090-3620-9251

Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, Japan—- Two Japanese citizen organizations, Green Action and Mihama-no-Kai, who were instrumental in December 1999 in successfully identifying the falsification of safety data for fuel fabricated at BNFL for Japan’s plutonium (MOX) program, joined local citizen groups in Takahama today to protest the arrival of the British-flagged vessel the Pacific Pintail into the port of Takahama. The ship arrived to drop off the transport cask that is scheduled to carry the tainted MOX back to Britain. The ship is scheduled to leave the Takahama nuclear power plant bound for Britain in early July.

In 1999, eight MOX (mixed plutonium uranium oxide) fuel assemblies manufactured by BNFL for Kansai Electric’s Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture were found to have safety data which had been falsified. In 2000, the British company agreed to take back the fuel.

‘BNFL willfully endangered the lives of the citizens of Fukui and surrounding areas. It has never apologized to the people for this. Now it intends to wash its hands clean by undertaking this shipment. We can never accept BNFL again,’ stated Aileen Mioko Smith, director of Green Action. ‘It is shocking that this company and the British government does not consider fuel with falsified quality control data to be unsafe. Even sabotage of the fuel did not warrant a thorough investigation. Such a company will never be acceptable to the Japanese public’ Smith stated. Smith was referring to Britain’s position that safety had not been undermined by the deliberate falsification. The sabotage concerned unnamed worker or workers inserting debris (screw) into the fuel rods.The local Anti Nuclear Power Plant Obama Citizens Group issued an urgent resolution yesterday against the shipment stating, "This shipment affirms the existence of BNFL’s THORP reprocessing plant which releases vast quantities of radiation, contaminating the surrounding regions and the shores of neighboring countries. BNFL continues to lie to the people of Ireland, Norway, and Denmark and can even be described as ‘criminal.’" The group stated, "This shipment is being undertaken with no party claiming ownership of the MOX fuel assemblies. If an accident were to occur with ownership remaining unsettled, who will be responsible for damages"

Kansai Electric’s Osaka headquarters are on record stating this June that they will not begin undertaking any contract negotiations with BNFL for new MOX fuel without the approval of the citizens of Fukui Prefecture and surrounding areas.

"One thing is certain. We Fukui citizens will never allow BNFL to set foot in our prefecture again" stated Miwako Ogiso, executive director of the Fukui Prefectural Citizens’ Organization Against Nuclear Power Plants.

Green Action campaigner Stephen Ready stated, "This shipment is being undertaken without the consent of the countries on the route of the shipment, there is no environmental assessment, no adequate liability regime or contingency plans in case of emergency. Over 50 countries are on record protesting Japanese nuclear shipments. We in Japan staunchly oppose this shipment on these grounds."

Green Action and Mihama-no-Kai submitted questions and demands to Kansai Electric earlier this month and again today to the Japanese government’s Ministry of Land, Transport, and Infrastructure urging them to investigate possible corrosion of the transport cask delivered today into Takahama. Recently, similar transport casks used by both Tokyo Electric and Kansai Electric were found to have corrosion problems after a more thorough investigation revealed previously unidentified corrosion. Kansai Electric claims there is ‘no problem’ because the casks "have different designs" but is yet to explain what these differences are.

Green Action
Suite 103, 22-75 Tanaka Sekiden-cho, Sakyo-ku Kyoto 606-8203 Japan
T + 81 75 701 7223
F + 81 75 702 1952

Japan’s Plutonium Program Remains at a Standstill Citizen and Governor Opposition Remains Strong

Commonly referred to as the pluthermal program, Japan has plans to commercially burn MOX (mixed plutonium uranium oxide) fuel in 16 to 18 nuclear power plants by 2010. The program, however, is way behind schedule and yet to begin. MOX utilization was initially to take place in Fukui, Fukushima, and Niigata Prefectures. However, at this time, all plans to load MOX fuel in these regions have been temporarily suspended, and opposition to implementation of the pluthermal program remains strong.


Kariwa’s ‘No to MOX’ Referendum Result Remains Unchanged May 27, 2002 marked the first anniversary of a referendum in Kariwa village, Niigata Prefecture, in which a majority of residents voted against the use of MOX fuel at Tokyo Electric’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Unit 3 nuclear power plant. An opinion poll conducted recently by the Niigata Nippo confirms that there has been very little change in opinion in Kariwa since last year’s referendum. Loading of the fuel during this August’s scheduled outage now appears politically impossible. Although the referendum is not legally binding, the message to the national government is clear. Citizens living at nuclear power plant sites do not want to implement the national government’s plutonium fuel utilization plans.

Details of the Poll: Noting that since the referendum, the pluthermal program has been ‘put on hold and no decision has been made as to whether to implement the program or not", 100 eligible voters in Kariwa were asked in face-to-face interviews what they thought should be done with the program. More than 70% agreed that the program should not go forward at this time, (with 40% stating that the "against" result should be respected and the program be put off for some time, and 33% saying the program should be scrapped entirely). Only 8% of respondents stated that the plan should be immediately implemented irregardless of the referendum result.

When asked to give their opinion about the pluthermal program, 46% answered that they are against the program, 26% answered that they are in favor of the program, and a further 28% of respondents stated that they "did not know or could not say."

In last year’s referendum 53.4% voted against the program, 42.5% voted in favor of the program, with 3.6% voting "suspend". The recent poll results clearly indicate the opposition force is still in the majority, and regardless of opinions concerning the program itself, a large majority of Kariwa residents believe MOX utilization should not go forward for the time being.


Governor Remains Critical of Program
Meanwhile, in Fukushima Prefecture, Governor Eisaku Sato continues his strong criticism of the pluthermal program national government plans to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. On May 17, Governor Sato questioned the very necessity of the pluthermal program by stating, "Is it a policy which needs to be implemented The whole nation should consider whether or not it is a policy which needs to be implemented as the national government is saying."

Back in February 2001, Governor Sato decided not to allow for the time being the utilization of MOX fuel in Tokyo Electric’s Fukushima Dai-ichi Unit 3 nuclear power plant in his prefecture. He also announced that Fukushima Prefecture would set up an Energy Policy Review Committee to examine the entire national energy policy from the perspective of an energy producing prefecture.

Over the past year, Governor Sato has also publically questioned the economics of reprocessing and MOX fuel use, as well as pointing out the proliferation dangers of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel.

The Fukushima Prefecture Energy Review Committee is expected to wrap up its deliberations in the near future and officially propose to the national government a list of demands concerning formulation of future Japanese national energy policy.


BNFL Falsified MOX Fuel Return Shipment Imminent
Two transport vessels, the Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal, are currently en route to Japan to retrieve 8 MOX fuel assemblies delivered to Japan in September 1999 which were later found to have quality control data falsified by the manufacturer British Nuclear Fuels plc. (BNFL). The fuel is currently in storage at Kansai Electric’s Takahama Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture and is scheduled to be shipped out for return to the manufacturer, British Nuclear Fuels plc. (BNFL) sometime mid-June or later.


Strong public opposition against the pluthermal program continues to prevent MOX fuel utilization from going forward in Japan. MOX fuel use is not necessary for Japan’s energy program, and is not accepted by the public.

Japanese electric utilities should cancel all MOX fuel fabrication plans with European fabricators, and consider immobilization of their separated plutonium stocks now in Europe.

Green Action
Suite 103, 22-75 Tanaka Sekiden-cho, Sakyo-ku Kyoto 606-8203 Japan
T + 81 75 701 7223
F + 81 75 702 1952

Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission—a Naked Emperor—Japan Should Shut Down its Plutonium Program—

For immediate release: April 9, 2002 For further information contact: Aileen Mioko Smith 090-3620-9251, or Stephen Ready

Kyoto, Japan–The Japanese Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) in its 2001 White Paper reaches the conclusion that use of plutonium at Japanese nuclear power plants is safe. However, the NSC’s has a poor record when it comes to declaring there is no problem with Japan’s MOX program.

In 1999 when citizen organizations submitted evidence to the NSC that MOX fuel manufactured by the British company BNFL for Kansai Electric had falsified quality control data, the NSC failed to address the issue. Citizens filed an injunction against use of the fuel and were subsequently proven correct. As a result, Kansai Electric abandoned the fuel on December 16, 1999. The fuel is now scheduled to be returned to Britain.

Today, again, the NSC declared there would be no safety problems with using plutonium fuel atJ apanese nuclear power plants claiming there is ample experience in using this fuel in Japan and Europe. What the NSC fails to inform the Japanese public and international community is that experience with MOX fuel at nuclear power plants (light water reactors) in Japan is virtually non-existent, and that use of MOX fuel internationally is minimal when compared to use of uranium fuel. The Fugen ATR reactor which uses plutonium fuel is a great safety concern to many Fukui residents.

‘Importantly, the NSC fails to inform the public and international community that the scale of MOX fuel use in Japan will be unprecedented. There is to be a higher concentration of plutonium in the fuel, and a higher burn-up rate. Experiments have shown that there are serious safety concerns with high burn-ups. In fact a NUPEC (Nuclear Power Engineering Corporation) report commissioned by the Japanese government addresses this precise concern’ stated Aileen Mioko Smith, director of Green Action. Moreover, the NSC does not require that adaptations be made such as increasing the number of control rods when using MOX fuel.

There is no need for Japan’s plutonium program. Yet the Japanese government is pushing for restart of Japan’s troubled fast breeder prototype reactor Monju-even though there is no program to commercialize the breeder. There is no demand for plutonium and yet the government is promoting start up of Japan’s Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant which would, if run at full capacity, produce as much as 7 to 8 tons of plutonium a year. Only 5 kilograms of this plutonium would be necessary to create a nuclear weapon.

Green Action calls on the Japanese government to abandon its plutonium program which is unsafe, environmentally unsound, and is a nuclear proliferation threat to Asia.

Green Action
Suite 103, 22-75 Tanaka Sekiden-cho, Sakyo-ku Kyoto 606-8203 Japan
T + 81 75 701 7223
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Immediate release: Japanese Citizens Challenge Quality of Cogema MOX Fuel, Oppose Japanese Pluthermal Program,Meet with Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI)

Citizen organizations from Aomori, Fukushima, Niigata, Fukui, Tokyo region, Kansai region, and Kyushu region submit petition to stop Cogema fuel and technology from entering Japan

For immediate release: 13 February 2001 Contact persons:Aileen Mioko Smith (+ 81 90 3620 9251) / Stephen Ready

Kyoto, Japan—-On 12 February, citizens from prefectures with Tokyo Electric nuclear power plants slated to use MOX (mixed plutonium uranium oxide) fuel under Japan’s plutonium program submitted a petition to the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry seeking government rejection of MOX fuel currently being fabricated at Cogema’s Melox facility for Tokyo Electric’s Fukushima Unit I-3 reactor. They were joined in the petition by Green Action, Mihama-no-Kai and other organizations. A total of 24 organizations nationwide signed the petition. The petition also seeks government scrapping of plans to build a MOX fuel fabrication facility in Aomori prefecture which uses Cogema technology.

Citizens who filed the petition were from Aomori, Fukushima, Niigata, and Fukui prefectures along with Tokyo, Kansai, and Kyushu regions. The petition was handed over to METI officials of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (Nuclear Safety Administration Division, and, Nuclear Power Inspection Division) at a meeting held at the House of Representatives Diet Office Building. Two Diet offices were also represented.

The petition was prompted by Kansai Electric’s announcement on 26 December that it was scrapping plans to use MOX fuel fabricated by Cogema for its Takahama nuclear power plant, and, a report by NUPEC (Nuclear Power Engineering Corporation) commissioned by the Japanese government. The NUPEC report findings indicate problems in Cogema’s MOX fuel fabrication technology.

According to Kansai Electric, the decision to abandon the MOX fuel manufactured at the Cogema Melox facility was prompted by the Japanese government informing the company a month earlier on 29 November that even if the company were to submit an application for approval of the fuel, the government would reject it on grounds Kansai Electric had failed to meet the new regulatory requirements for imported MOX fuel. The regulation came into effect in July 2000.

Citizens, however, have strong doubts that this was the true reason for the fuel’s rejection since the new regulations specifically exempt fuel that was already under fabrication, such as the Kansai Electric Cogema fuel, from meeting requirements placed on fuel to be fabricated after the regulations took effect.

One of the reasons given by the government to justify rejection of the Kansai Electric Cogema fuel was that Kansai Electric did not conduct its own ‘pre-fabrication audit’ of the Melox facility. Yesterday, however, METI admitted that, ‘It would have been a physical impossibility for Kansai Electric to have conducted a pre-audit’. However METI stated it had nevertheless placed this requirement on the fuel. According to METI it ‘knew from the beginning’ that the fuel would be rejected but only informed Kansai Electric in November of 2001. METI stated yesterday that in spite of the many meetings it had held with Kansai Electric concerning the fuel, it never informed the company the fuel would be rejected because, ‘Kansai Electric never asked’.

METI’s rejection came the day following Kansai Electric’s submission of a two-page document to METI explaining the process the company had undertaken in order to quality the fuel. Reiko Oshima, member House of Representatives who attended the meeting told METI officials it was scandalous that METI’s review process for MOX fuel approval was so slipshot, requiring only a two-page document and a one day review process.

The NUPEC study, published in March 2001, reports on analyses of plutonium spots in MOX fuel fabricated by Belgonucleaire and what the report only identifies as ‘the other MIMAS’ fabricator. The study reveals a multitude of plutonium spots particularly in the latter’s fuel. METI, in response to citizens’ questioning yesterday, divulged that ‘the other MIMAS’ fuel was Cogema’s. The data and photographs in the NUPEC report reveal extensive areas in the Cogema fuel with 25% plutonium concentration (enrichment), a sign that the process of mixing the plutonium and uranium in Cogema’s A-MIMAS process is not going well. [NUPEC report, p.75, graphs 4.4.1-9a and 4.4.1-9b ] High plutonium enrichment areas are called ‘plutonium spots’ and are a safety concern. The NUPEC report describing the graphs states, ‘The peak in the area of 25% plutonium concentration is a concentration close to the plutonium concentration figure of the first powder mix, and is thought to be a peak arising from plutonium spots. ‘ [NUPEC report p.53.] (Informal English translation of Japanese text by Green Action.) METI’s Shinichi Mizumoto of the Nuclear Safety Administration Division stated yesterday that ‘areas of 25% plutonium concentration are not a problem’ but admitted when asked to back up his statement that there were no standards established in Japan concerning plutonium concentrations.

In the past, Japanese citizen organizations have repeatedly asked both Cogema and Kansai Electric to release information concerning quality control of Cogema fuel. The information has, nevertheless, never been released.

Citizens told METI officials yesterday that the government should respect the May 2001 citizen referendum which took place Kariwa village which rejected use of MOX fuel, thereby abandoning the pluthermal program altogether. Kariwa is, along with Kashiwazaki city, the site of Tokyo Electric’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant complex, the largest capacity nuclear power plant site in the world.

Green Action
Suite 103, 22-75 Tanaka Sekiden-cho, Sakyo-ku Kyoto 606-8203 Japan
T + 81 75 701 7223
F + 81 75 702 1952

Fukushima Prefecture Energy Policy Review

  • Energy Policy Review

In February 2001, Governor Eisaku Sato of Fukushima Prefecture announced that he would not allow the use of MOX fuel in Fukushima Prefecture in spite of earlier promises to the national government and Tokyo Electric to allow the pluthermal program to proceed.

At the same time, Governor Sato announced his intention of setting up an Energy Policy Review Committee to examine the entire national energy policy from the perspective of an energy producing prefecture.

After listening to the views of twelve prefectural citizens on 31 May 2001, the committee proceeded to hear the views of eight lecturers.

On October 25, Professor Hitoshi Yoshioka, expert committee member of Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission, gave testimony to the review committee. Yoshioka presented a critical view of the Japanese government’s nuclear fuel cycle policy, pointing out it would be best to "withdraw from this policy as soon as possible." In particular, Yoshioka questioned the economics of MOX utilization, and suggested that the electric utilities should "make an orderly withdraw from the pluthermal program."

At a press conference held on 23 October 2001, Fukushima Governor Eisaku Sato pointed out that experts who have given presentations at the Energy Review Committee have continually pointed out the high cost of the nuclear fuel cycle, and stated in particular that professor Yoshioka’s arguments were "very persuasive." [Mainichi Newspaper, 24 October 2001]

At the most recent session, held on the 23 January 2002, during the question and answer period with lecturer Masao Nakamura, Governor Sato stated, "my conclusion is different from yours." Nakamura had given a lecture in support of the continued promotion of the nuclear fuel cycle for energy security reasons.

An article in the 24 January 2002 Mainichi Newspaper, addressing the reasons why Governor Sato supports a once-through cycle, quotes the governor as stating to Mr. Nakamura that, "(1) the nuclear fuel cycle will be too expensive under deregulation, (2) France has abandoned the nuclear fuel cycle, and (3) uranium fuel resources will not dry up for the next 70 years."

The prefecture’s original plan was to wrap up the review during fiscal 2001, but after the Hamaoka Unit 1 pipe rupture accident in Shizuoka Prefecture last November, Governor Sato announced that the committee would continue to meet into fiscal 2002. The purpose of the extension is to consider such topics as the safety of aging nuclear reactors and fiscal support for regions which supply nuclear power. [The Hamaoka reactor and Fukushima reactors are similar in design.]

After the September 1999 JCO criticality accident and the December 1999 BNFL data falsification scandal, Governor Sato stated that "public support for the pluthermal program has clearly retreated." He reiterated these feelings several times prior to establishing the energy review committee in February 2001. The strong anti-pluthermal victory in the Kariwa referendum in May 2001 clearly indicates that there is little public support for plutonium utilization policies even in areas which depend on nuclear power for livelihood.

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