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Friday
Aug202010

Speaking tour of Japan challenges MOX fuel use and financing for new U.S. reactors

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps toured Japan from August 2nd to 12th, visiting Tokyo, Fukushima, Fukui, Kansai and Kyushu. Highlights included meeting with officials from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Nippon Export and Investment Insurance agency, where a letter signed by 75 U.S. national and grassroots groups was delivered, urging no Japanese financing for risky new reactors in the U.S. A backgrounder spelled out these risks in detail. Most proposed new U.S. atomic reactors have designs owned by Japanese companies -- either Toshiba (Westinghouse), Hitachi (General Electric), or Mitsubishi. At South Texas Project, Toshiba and Tokyo Electric Power Company are even partners in the venture. In addition, Japan Steel Works would be the primary supplier of large nuclear components, such as reactor pressure vessels and steam generators. The Japanese news media were alerted to the letter and meeting.

Local anti-nuclear groups also asked Kevin to address the risks of long-term storage of Mixed (plutonium-uranium) Oxide (MOX) irradiated nuclear fuel in pools, given the leaks of radioactive water that have occurred at five U.S. nuclear facilities, including Indian Point, Salem, Connecticut Yankee, Brookhaven National Lab, and Babcock & Wilcox, Virginia. Several reactors in Japan are recklessly moving to load MOX fuel, even though there is no final disposition plan for the irradiated fuel that would be generated. There is a vague promise to someday build a special reprocessing facility in Japan, but that is unlikely, and would actually only make matters even worse! This means the radioactive wastes will remain in storage pools on-site for decades. Kevin also presented a power point about the many risks of storing irradiated nuclear fuel in pools.

One last highlight -- Paul Gunter's Leak First, Fix Later report was translated into Japanese!