Japan: Protests Greet Nuclear Fuel Shipments


5-21-09, 8:56 am

Original source: Akahata (Japan)

'We are not guinea pigs for pluthermal power generation!'

Two cargo ships carrying recycled nuclear fuel, a combination of uranium and plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel, arrived in Japan on May 18 from France for the planned introduction of plutonium-thermal power generation in the fall.

Upon hearing the news of launching nuclear power generation with MOX fuel at three electric power companies in Japan, residents concerned expressed their anxiety over the safety of the use of MOX fuel and called for the plan to be canceled.

On May 18, a ship entered the Port of Omaezaki in Shizuoka Prefecture, and the MOX fuel was transported to Chubu Electric Power Co.'s Hamaoka No. 4 plant in Omaezaki City.

At the port's pier, citizens shouted, 'Stop transporting dangerous MOX fuel!'

Later on that evening, members of the Shizuoka Liaison Center on Nuclear Power Plants visited the Chubu Electric Power Co. Shizuoka office to protest against the shipping and unloading of the fuel. They demanded that the electric power company abandon the pluthermal power generation plan.

Yoshino Yuji, representative of the center, stated that the use of plutonium contained in MOX is dangerous because of its very toxic nature and it can be used to produce nuclear weapons. Once MOX fuel is used for nuclear power generation in Japan, it will greatly increase the possibility of radioactive accidents affecting plant workers and nearby residents.

'Recalling that a Shizuoka citizen had been killed by the hydrogen bomb explosion test in 1953, we cannot allow the running of the plant with MOX fuel,' he added.

Shimizu Sumio, the head of another association in Shizuoka warned that it is too dangerous to start pluthermal power generation at the Hamaoka Power Plant because it is located close to an earthquake fault.

On May 17, a rally was held at Genkai Town in Saga Prefecture, where Kyushu Electric Power Co. runs the Genkai nuclear power plant, to protest against the new power generation with MOX fuel.

The electric power company plans to begin pluthermal power generation in autumn, the first such plan to go on line in Japan.

Fujioka Akira, head of a local association, stated at the rally that the safety of running the plant with MOX fuel cannot be confirmed. 'Using MOX fuel at Genkai's No.3 plant will mean using Genkai's residents as guinea pigs,' he said.

After the rally, citizens waged a street campaign in opposition.

The cargo ship will also visit Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku where Shikoku Electric Power Co. will run its Ikata plant with MOX fuel.

In Japan, power generation with pluthermal fuel has been planned, such as at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, but was ruled out as inappropriate due to the possibility of extended blackouts in case of emergency shutdowns.