FUKUSHIMA – The Fukushima District Court dismissed on Friday a request by citizens’ groups in Tokyo and Fukushima prefectures for a temporary injunction against the use of plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel at a nuclear power plant in the prefecture.
Judge Hiroyasu Ikushima said: “Checks on the fuel are reliable enough and there is no question of malpractice with regard to the checks. There is no need to consider the dangerousness of the fuel.”
The request, filed by 864 people, asked the court to halt the use of MOX fuel at the No. 3 reactor of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s No. 1 Fukushima nuclear power plant in Okuma.
The citizens’ groups argue that a TEPCO report shows that checks conducted by the Belgian maker of the fuel, Belgonucleaire, were unreliable. They say the company’s assertion that the Belgian maker found no defective products in tests is statistically impossible, adding that operating the reactor with defective MOX fuel pellets will pose a serious risk.
The fuel was shipped to the reactor in September 1999 to be used in TEPCO’s “pluthermal” nuclear power program.
However, in the same month it was revealed that another fuel maker, British Nuclear Fuels PLC, had falsified data on safety checks conducted on MOX fuel that was shipped to a Kansai Electric Power Co. nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture. This cast doubt on TEPCO’s fuel.
TEPCO assured the Trade Ministry in February 2000 year that Belgonucleaire conducted proper quality-control checks on the MOX fuel shipped to Japan, saying no defective products were found in the tests.
Last month, Fukushima Gov. Eisaku Sato announced the prefecture would not agree to the use of MOX fuel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on the grounds that Fukushima residents are against it.
Sato’s announcement is likely to affect TEPCO’s plans to start using MOX fuel in the reactor next month as well as Japan’s national policy on its nuclear fuel cycle.
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