Tokyo and London could agree as early as next week on the return to Britain of tainted mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel manufactured by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd., Japanese officials said Friday.
“We are close to agreement with the British government on the return of the fuel (to Britain),” International Trade and Industry Minister Takeo Hiranuma told reporters.
The Natural Resources and Energy Agency said that it is trying to schedule a meeting between its representatives and senior officials of Britain’s Department of Trade and Industry to hold final talks on the matter.
The meeting could take place at the agency’s offices and an agreement could be reached as early as next week, agency officials said.
BNFL and Kansai Electric Power Co., which operates the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture where the BNFL-produced MOX fuel was supposed to be used, are also discussing ways to resolve compensation and other issues involving the scandal.
In September, it came to light that quality-assurance data on a consignment of MOX fuel intended for use in the Takahama No. 3 reactor had been falsified by workers at BNFL’s Sellafield plant in Cumbria, northwest England.
The fuel was waiting to be shipped to Japan at the time of the disclosure.
In December, there was more embarrassment for BNFL when it was revealed that data on a consignment already in Takahama — to be used for the No. 4 reactor — had also been falsified. The shipment was sent from Britain in September.
Furthermore, in February, BNFL announced that a screw and a concrete block had been mixed into two MOX fuel rods waiting for shipment to the Takahama reactor.
The incidents have caused a major delay to the start of Kansai Electric Power’s MOX fuel project, which was initially slated to begin late last year.