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Two cargo ships carrying recycled nuclear fuel arrived Monday in Japan from France for the planned introduction of plutonium-thermal power generation in the fall, power company officials said.

One of the two armed ships entered a port near Chubu Electric Power Co.’s Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, the first stop for the delivery of plutonium and uranium mixed oxide, or MOX, fuel.

The ships will also deliver the fuel, a combination of uranium and plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel, to Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture and Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture.

The fuel was manufactured in France on an order placed by the three utilities and will be used in conventional uranium-burning light-water reactors.

The Pacific Pintail and Pacific Heron left the northern French port of Cherbourg in early March and reached Japan after sailing through the southwestern Pacific via the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

The Pacific Heron was escorted by Japan Coast Guard ships and helicopters as it entered the port of Omaezaki.

Antinuclear groups staged demonstrations against the pluthermal power generation plan, shouting, “No transport of dangerous MOX fuel.” Pluthermal is a Japanese word combining the English words plutonium and thermal.

Critics point to the potential dangers of MOX fuel, warning that use of fuel containing plutonium exposes residents to greater health risks in the event of serious accidents.

Kyushu Electric plans to put MOX fuel into the No. 3 reactor of the Genkai plant at the time of the next regular inspection in August.

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