Japan - Plutonium Investigation n°2


Japanese electricity utilities operate 54 nuclear reactors, 51 of them being Light Water Reactors (LWR) . These plants generated 293 billion kWh in 1996, which accounted for about 34% of the total electricity generation in Japan. Japan is with Belgium and Germany one of the three non nuclear weapon states to have developed a commercial reprocessing industry which produces the primary nuclear fuel and bomb ingredient, plutonium.

Demonstration facilities are operated by the state owned Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation (PNC) while the commercial power plants are operated by regional utilities. The Japanese plutonium industry is today at a crucial point of its development because:

- it is between the demonstration and industrial stage; many decisions have yet to be taken even though earlier objectives have not yet been reached.

- its credibility has recently been deeply questioned with several significant accidents at various facilities during which the operator has each time tried to cover-up the extent of the damage from the authorities and the population. In all cases the operator was the State nuclear research organisation PNC.

Back to contents                To be continued