Electric cancels MOX orders
The Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, 28 December 2001
Kansai Electric Power Co. decided Wednesday to
cancel orders for mixed oxide fuel (MOX) from a French company due to
fears it would fail
stricter fuel checks.
New government controls introduced in July last
year were considered too strict for the fuel, which was intended for
in the company's
The decision effectively puts Kansai Electric's
pluthermal ambitions on hold at least for several years.
The government has long talked of using
plutonium-uranium mixed oxide as a fuel for ordinary nuclear reactors.
The MOX project is considered a key part of the
national nuclear power policy.
But the project's future is increasingly in doubt.
It remains uncertain whether the nation's largest utility, Tokyo Electric
Power Co., will be able
to proceed with its own pluthermal operations
The Kansai Electric project has been dogged by
scandal, most notably when inspection data on MOX fuel ordered from
British nuclear fuel
company was found to have been falsified.
Kansai Electric does not have any useable MOX fuel
on hand because it suspended all orders while the earlier case was being
The six containers of MOX fuel ordered from France
will be destroyed at a cost to Kansai Electric of around 6 billion yen.
The company's decision underscores the
unexpectedly strict stance taken by inspectors from the government's
Agency of Nuclear and Industrial
Safety. The policy marks a sharp departure from
the past, when the government and the utilities worked together to
promote nuclear power.
The inspection agency was created through a
reorganization of government ministries and agencies in January. It
brought together inspectors
previously separated in the Ministry of
International Trade and Industry and the Science and Technology Agency.
Skeptics believed the new regulatory body would
lack teeth because it was set up within the Ministry of Economy, Trade
and Industry, which
promotes the use of nuclear power.
But the agency's unprecedented, strict position
showed its independence from the economy ministry and surprised its