Sun, Jun 03, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Japan’s plutonium plans stir up alarm

PUBLIC MISTRUST:The nuclear industry’s desire to add to Japan’s plutonium stocks has been criticized by anti-nuclear activists as well as academics who see it as pointless

Reuters and AP, TOKYO

Critics argue that since no additional spent fuel is being created, this is not a good time start producing more. They also say it makes no sense for Japan to minimize its plutonium glut by calling it a “stockpile” rather than a “surplus.”

Officials stress that Japan files a yearly report detailing its stockpile with the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, it has repeatedly failed to keep to its own schedules for using the plutonium.

In 2006, the nuclear industry said the plutonium-consuming MOX fuel would be used in 16 to 18 conventional reactors “in or after” 2010. In fact, only two reactors used MOX that year. By last year, the number was still just three — including one at the Fukushima plant.

In response to the delays, the industry has simply lengthened its deadlines. It is now shooting for the end of fiscal 2015.

“There really is a credibility problem here,” Von Hippel said. “They keep making up these schedules which are never realized.”

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