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Shipment of MOX fuel from Europe to Japan

Press release

June 30, 1999

Nuclear power is an essential part of Japan's energy strategy. In 1977-78 the 10 Japanese electric utilities signed contracts with the French industrial Group COGEMA and the British industrial Group BNFL for the reprocessing of their spent fuel.  Reprocessing and recycling of plutonium through MOX fuel is a long term program, as Japan plans to have up to 16 or 18 reactors using MOX fuel by 2010.

The first shipment of MOX fuel is destined for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), and the Takahama nuclear power plant operated by the Kansaï Electric Power Company (KEPCO).  The governments and the industrial partners of Japan, France and UK have been closely coordinating and preparing the operation for the first shipment to Japan to be performed in the near future.

The following information will be communicated at the time of the shipment :

  • The date of departure, names of the vessels, names of the loading ports, total number of fuel assemblies and total number of casks - one or two days before departure from Europe.
  • The route and approximate timing of arrival in Japan - one day after departure from Europe.

The transportation of nuclear materials including MOX fuel, is strictly governed by an established system of international regulations covering the special transport packages, known as casks, the design of the purpose-built ships, and the physical protection arrangements. Nuclear material has been safely transported by sea since the 1960's. 
For the MOX shipments, two armed PNTL vessels will escort each other, and they will depart from Europe together.  This statement is being released simultaneously in UK, France and Japan by BNFL, COGEMA and TEPCO / KEPCO respectively.