may cut off MOX supplier
Japan Times, 17 December 1999
By Eric Johnston, Staff writer
OSAKA -- Kansai
Electric Power Co. said Friday that it may end its relationship with
the British company that manufactures mixed plutonium-uranium fuel (MOX)
following revelations the firm falsified data for a batch of it due
to have been burned early next year in Kepco's No. 4 reactor in Takahama,
In addition, the
power company said it will look elsewhere, possibly France or Belgium,
to remake the MOX fuel.
During a meeting
with 40 antinuclear activists at the company's Osaka headquarters, Kepco
officials apologized for failing to conduct proper inspections at the
British Nuclear Fuels Limited plant in Sellafield, England.
Kepco had repeatedly
insisted no data falsification occurred, even after antinuclear activists
pointed out statistical anomalies in BNFL's reports.
Minister of International
Trade and Industry Takashi Fukaya said Thursday no more MOX could be
imported from BNFL until Kepco completed its investigations. Kepco said
this meant that, in addition to the fuel for the No. 4 reactor, it was
canceling a separate agreement with BNFL to manufacture fuel for the
No. 3 reactor in Takahama.
"As far as MOX
for Takahama No. 3 goes, we're back to square one and are considering
where to have the fuel manufactured," one Kepco spokesman said.
still has contracts with BNFL, one MITI official involved in nuclear
power policy and speaking anonymously said the ministry would refuse
to grant Kepco permission to import fuel from BNFL for an indefinite
period, no matter what Kepco's own investigations reveal. Kepco officials
refused to comment.
They also refused
to respond to reports that MOX for Takahama No. 3, currently in Sellafield,
will be remade in France or Belgium. Both countries are major manufacturers
of nuclear fuel, and Tokyo Electric Power Co. already has contracts
with a Belgian manufacturer for MOX.
In addition, Kepco
has reportedly signed a contract with a French nuclear power company
to manufacture another batch of MOX fuel that could be delivered next
in Fukui Prefecture say the deal was finalized prior to BNFL's revelations,
Kepco officials refused to divulge the details of that agreement, and
did not say when the fuel might be ready for shipment to Japan.
Pressure on Kepco
is mounting both within Japan and abroad to suspend its MOX program.
Nearly 20 percent of Takahama voters have submitted a plebiscite on
MOX use to the mayor and the Takahama city council will take up the
issue in January.
In Britain, BNFL's
relationship with Kepco faced questioning in Parliament earlier this
week. As late as Wednesday, a spokesman for the British secretary of
state for the environment, transport and regions said BNFL fuel shipped
to Japan was safe.
continue to maintain that although data falsification occurred, the
fuel was safe.