NIIGATA – The Agency for Nuclear and Industrial Safety issued a certificate on Friday to Tokyo Electric Power Co. stating that the company’s plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel imports have passed safety inspection.
The agency issued the certificate for the 28 containers of MOX fuel imported from Britain for use in the No. 3 reactor of TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, located on the Sea of Japan coast.
Although TEPCO submitted to the central government a plan for periodic plant inspections, expected to begin Tuesday, it did not state whether it plans to use the MOX fuel in its thermal reactor or continue using uranium fuel.
The utility had planned to begin using MOX fuel from Tuesday, but the Niigata Prefectural Government has been reluctant to allow Japan’s first nuclear plant to use the controversial fuel.
“The company will continue to make efforts to obtain understanding from local residents and will decide whether to use the MOX fuel in the inspection after analyzing the situation with regard to the locals,” reads the plan. The inspection is to finish July 13.
The company said it hopes to decide by June whether it will begin using the MOX fuel in the reactor.
The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, which comprises seven reactors, has an output of 8,212,000 kilowatts, the largest in the world.
The company’s move follows its decision in late March to postpone implementation of a similar project at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture.
MOX, a pellet mixture of uranium dioxide and plutonium dioxide, is designed to be burned in light-water reactors, a process known as plutonium thermal use.
Plutonium is obtained by reprocessing spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants.
The electricity industry plans to implement the use of MOX fuel in 16 to 18 reactors by 2010. The project was originally scheduled to be launched in 1999.
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