First quarter of 2001

Belgonucleaire hit by quality-control default suspicion

WISE-Paris, 19 January 2001 (modified 2 February 2001)
Green Action
, Press release, 16 January 2001

[Posted 19/01/2001]

The MOX manufacturer Belgonucleaire in Dessel, Belgium, is suspected of quality-control data falsifications. Around 2000 citizens together with NGOs, Greenpeace Japan, the CNIC (Citizen's Nuclear Information Center) in Tokyo and Tokyo Electric Citizens Group, filed a lawsuit against the Japanese company, Tokyo Electric (Belgonucleaire's client), following analysis carried out on data concerning 32 PWR MOX assemblies that arrived in Japan in September 1999 together with some BNFL MOX. The case consists in an injunction against loading of the Belgian incriminated MOX. While the BNFL fuel is to be returned to Britain, the Belgonucleaire fuel remains unused due to a Kansai Electric decision of 16 December 1999. According to the Japanese NGOs irregularities have also been found among 28 Belgonucleaire BWR assemblies scheduled for imminent departure from Cherbourg (France) to the Kashiwazaki power plant, operated by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company). The NGOs are asking for the release of the entire quality-control data in order to lift any doubts.

Here is the Green Action press statement on the issue, released on 16 January 2001:

Green Action
TEL: 075-701-7223 - FAX: 075-702-1952
Suite 103, 22-75 Tanaka Sekiden-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8203JAPAN
TEL: +81-75-701-7223 - FAX: +81-75-702-1952 - Email:

16 January 2001

Belgonucleaire-manufactured MOX Fuel Confronted with Falsification Accusations, Lawsuit, Referendum Effort in Japan
  • Analysis Reveals Belgonucleaire’s MOX Quality Control Data Highly Suspicious of Being Manipulated
  • Referendum Effort on MOX Fuel Announced in Kariwa Village, Niigata.
  • Injunction Lawsuit Continues in Fukushima District Court

For immediate release: 16 January 2001

Contact: Aileen Mioko Smith Mobile +81-90-3620-9251

Kyoto, Japan— On the eve of departure from Cherbourg France to Japan, Belgonucleaire’s MOX (mixed plutonium uranium oxide) fuel manufactured for Tokyo Electric is facing accusations of quality control data falsification, a referendum effort, and an injunction lawsuit in Japan aimed at blocking use of MOX fuel already delivered from Belgonucleaire to Fukushima prefecture, Japan.

A recent mathematical analysis of the Belgonucleaire MOX fuel for both Tokyo Electric’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 3 and Fukushima I-3 nuclear power plants reveals that there is major suspicion that the quality control data measurements for pellet diameters have been manipulated. The analysis was made by Dr. Hideyuki Koyama, director of the citizens organization Mihama-no-Kai, and lecturer of mathematical sciences at Osaka Prefecture University. The analysis was submitted to the Fukushima District Court for Dr. Koyama’s testimony on 26 December 2000. All 14 lots of Fukushima I-3 (BWR) fuel were analysed for their pellet diameter quality control measurements. Four lots were found to be highly suspicious, while two additional lots were also found to be of concern. Both Fukushima and Niigata nuclear safety authorities are on record recognizing the importance of the lawsuit.

Irregularities have also been found for four of the MOX fuel lots bound for Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (BWR): KK3-1759, KK3-1773, KK3-1776, and KK3-1782. [All 18 lots were analysed.] The 28 assemblies of the Kashiwazaki MOX fuel is scheduled to depart Cherbourg, France for Niigata, Japan shortly. Tokyo Electric has, to date, not rebutted the claim in court that the fuel is tainted.

Dr. Hideyuki Koyama states, "Clearly, there are irregularities with both Belgonucleaire’s Kashiwazaki and Fukushima MOX fuel. These irregularities point to the fact that some type of manipulation has taken place. Rather than preparing to ship the Kashiwazaki MOX fuel, Belgonucleaire and Tokyo Electric should release the quality control data without a moment to waste."

The Belgonucleaire fuel for Fukushima (32 assemblies) arrived in Japan in September 1999 and has remained unused as a result of the 1999 discovery that MOX fuel manufactured by BNFL for Kansai Electric’s Takahama Unit 4 reactor (PWR, 8 assemblies) arriving at the same time was found to have pellet diameter measurement quality control data which had been falsified. Japanese citizen groups centered around Mihama-no-Kai, and Green Action were largely responsible for analysing the BNFL data and discovering the falsification for the Kansai Electric fuel. Use of the fuel was abandoned by Kansai Electric on 16 December 1999. The fuel is to be returned to BNFL in Britain.

"What we are demanding is release of the Belgonucleaire data. Without the data the suspicion will remain. We are concerned that history is repeating itself here. In 1999, citizen findings of BNFL’s data falsification were not heeded by the European nuclear industry, Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and the Japanese utilities. Instead, their response was to attempt to cover-up the falsification. But this failed. If any lessons were learned, the same should not happen again with Belgonucleaire fuel. The accusation about the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa fuel is serious and must be answered by Belgonucleaire and Tokyo Electric " said Aileen Mioko Smith, director of Green Action.

Citizen efforts continue in various locations in Japan in opposition to the use of Belgonucleaire fuel. Over 1100 citizens are currently suing Tokyo Electric in the Fukushima District Court seeking an injunction to prevent the use of the Belgonucleaire fuel manufactured for Tokyo Electric’s Fukushima I-3 nuclear power plant. The next hearing is scheduled for 30 January. The number of plaintiffs continue to increase.

On 14 January, citizens and legislators of Kariwa village (the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 3 plant is located in both municipalities) announced a referendum drive to begin on 4 February. The referendum will seek a "Yes/No" vote of the village constituency on the use of MOX fuel at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant. Hayato Kitaoka, a Kashiwazaki City Assembly legislator stated, "MOX use and MOX shipments are in and of themselves unsafe. Tokyo Electric and the Japanese government are ignoring citizen opposition, the court case against use of the fuel, and findings that the fuel is suspect. This industry is bad for the citizens of both Europe and Japan, the natural environment, and the peoples of countries on the shipment route. MOX fuel production and use should be terminated."

On 13 January, Niigata media reported citizen accusations of "Suspicion of Falsification" for Belgonucleaire fuel. Green Action, Mihama-no-Kai, and Greenpeace Japan met with both Niigata prefecture and Kashiwazaki city nuclear safety authorities, reviewing the Koyama findings at length. A petition was submitted by the organizations to both authorities seeking release of the Belgonucleaire data, and opposition to the impending shipment from Cherbourg.

Explanation of methodology used in the Koyama analysis:

In the case of the BNFL data falsification scandal, BNFL made public both the total pellet diameter measurement data and the random sampling quality control data for the Takahama Unit 4 MOX fuel. Citizens detected falsification by inputting both sets of data into a computer and comparing the two graphs created by the data. If no manipulation had taken place, the quality control random sampling data would have fundamentally matched the total pellet data since the random sampling was from the total pellet data. However, lots with non-matching graphs were found, thus leading to the substantiation that the fuel had been falsified.

In comparison to the BNFL case, the quantity and type of data revealed by Belgonucleaire for MOX fuel it manufactured for Tokyo Electric has been extremely limited. Dr. Koyama took the limited data, mathematically analysed it, working to re-generate what the actual graphs of the quality control data would look like had the data been made public.

Since the total pellet diameter measurement data is said to have been erased from the computer by Belgonucleaire, Koyama used the next best comparison available: the normal distribution curve. Belgonucleaire has also not revealed the random sampling quality control data with the measurement unit actually used to measure the pellets: 1 micron. Instead, Belgonucleaire has presented histograms compiling the data into 4 micron increments. This can mask irregularities in the data if they exist. (MITI in a meeting with citizens on 13 December 2000 agreed that this procedure could mask irregularities.) Therefore, since the 1 micron data is not available and the 4 micron data would mask irregularities if these existed, Koyama worked to "resurrect" the 1 micron data from the 4 micron increment data by using a quadratic function at every 4 micron interval. This was then compared to the normal distribution curve.

Koyama first used as an example the BNFL fuel that had already been proven to have been falsified. He then analysed the data backwards for this fuel, changing the 1 micron units to 4 and using the quadratic function at every 4 micron interval. Results comparing this graph to the graph which plotted the actual falsified fuel showed that his analysis could partially resurrect the irregularities. Since Koyama’s analysis of Belgonucleaire’s MOX fuel pellet measurement quality control analysis is limited by the limitations of the data available, it cannot reveal all the irregularities, in fact it can only point to irregularities having taken place. In other words, Koyama’s analysis would point part way to the full irregularities if and when they exist.

One example: KK3-1773

(Above graph is Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 3’s KK3-1773):
Diamond-shaped distribution (blue) = 4-micron mean
Square-shaped distribution (pink) = quadratic estimation
Triangle-shaped (dotted-line) distribution (green) = normal distribution

There is a sharp drop at the larger measurement end ["x" axis]. The 10.346 measurement area could indicate a second peak. The 1 micron data needs to be released for analysis.

The 12-page English narrative explaining Dr. Koyama’s analysis with color graphs may be obtained through Green Action

[The English translation of Dr. Hideyuki Koyama’s analysis submitted to the Fukushima District Court on 24 November 2000 for use in his testimony on 26 December 2000 is also available through Green Action. The analysis contain the color graphs.]

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