Subject: [cwj 156] Japan's TEPCO to postpone plan to use MOX fuel
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Mon, 04 Jun 2001 15:12:08 -0700
Seq: 156

Friday, June 1 6:02 PM SGT 

Japan's TEPCO to postpone plan to use MOX fuel

TOKYO, June 1 (AFP) - 

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said Friday it will postpone its plan to
use recycled nuclear fuel at its nuclear plant in northern Japan in line
with a request from local authorities.

"We have received a request from Niigata prefectural governor (Ikuo)
Hirayama today to postpone introducing MOX fuel in the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa
nuclear power plant during the current regular inspection," TEPCO said in a

"Because of this request, the company decided to postpone the adoption of
MOX fuel," it said, without specifying how long the postponement would last.

Hirayama telephoned TEPCO earlier Friday following a vote Sunday by
residents who came out against the use of plutonium-uranium mixed oxidefuel
at the plant.

Local leaders agreed that the "introduction of MOX during the current
regular (reactor) inspection is impossible," because of the villagers'
objections, said Kashiwazaki city's nuclear safety countermeasure officer
Masaki Wakayama.

The next scheduled opportunity to convert one of the plant's reactors to
MOX will not be until August 2002, according to TEPCO.

The plebiscite result dealt a blow to the nation's future nuclear energy
policy, as TEPCO and the government acknowledged it would be hard to press
ahead with the project without gaining local people's understanding.

"Looking at the residents' vote result, the people's understanding is still
not enough," Wakayama said. The proposal was rejected by a majority of 53.6

TEPCO insisted however the plan still needed to be carried through.

"The execution of the pluthermal plan is an urgent issue for our country
which lacks (natural) resources, and its necessity has never changed in the
smallest degree," it said.

The local authorities from prefectural to Kariwa village level reached an
accord with Tokyo in April 1999 allowing the MOX plan to go ahead, Wakayama
said, explaining why a postponement rather than cancellation of the project
was being sought.

"By law it is impossible for the agreement in the past to be withdrawn,"
Wakayama said.

The accord between the central and local governments includes conditions
for the project to proceed, such as ensuring safety, and Tokyo's active
role in gaining nationwide acceptance as well as local people's understanding.

After Sunday's vote, the government and TEPCO vowed to step up efforts try
to persuade the public of the need for nuclear power.

The use of MOX fuel has been the lynchpin of Japan's nuclear policy since a
fire at the nation's prototype 'Monju' fast-breeder nuclear reactor in
Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, in December 1995.

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