• Kyodo

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A U.S. antinuclear-proliferation think tank praised Kariwa, Niigata Prefecture, on Sunday for its opposition in a plebiscite to a plan to use plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel at a local reactor.

Paul Leventhal, president of the Washington-based Nuclear Control Institute, said in a news release, “The vote represents a major setback for the Japanese nuclear industry . . . (and) should be the turning point for the demise of the Japanese and European plutonium industries.”

The result of the Sunday plebiscite is not binding.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to use MOX fuel, made with uranium and plutonium from used nuclear fuel, in one of its seven power reactors in Kariwa and the neighboring city of Kashiwazaki.

In the plebiscite, 1,925 out of 4,090 eligible voters cast ballots against the plan, outnumbering supporters by 392.

Leventhal said, “The Kariwa referendum is but the latest evidence that the plutonium industries in Japan and Europe are being rejected because they make no economic sense, (and) increase the consequences of a nuclear accident.”

Leventhal also said the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush “would be wise to pay attention to the villagers of Kariwa.” He said nuclear industry lobbyists are pressing Bush to reverse decisions against the reprocessing of spent reactor fuel.

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