Upcoming shipment of MOX fuel to Japan
July 09, 1999
COGEMA announced that the next sea shipment of MOX fuel to Japan will depart before the end of July. In accordance with its agreement with partners BNFL, TEPCO and KEPCO, and as previously indicated, the exact date of departure will be made public at least two days beforehand. The shipment is part of the contractual relationship between COGEMA and the Japanese power companies TEPCO and KEPCO, with whom the Group has recycling contracts for spent nuclear power plant fuel.
The shipment also has diplomatic and political overtones insofar as it is being carried out by COGEMA, a French company, and BNFL, a British company, in accordance with both countries regulations and with the formal approval of the United States under 1988 agreements between the Japanese and American governments. Together, the sovereign nations of Great Britain, the United States, Japan and France validated the terms and conditions for the shipment and in particular found that the precautions taken for physical security provide the necessary level of security for the materials that will be shipped.
The MOX fuel shipments to Japan are for Japanese utilities with plutonium recycling programs for their nuclear reactors. Four reactors have recently been licensed for such fuel in Japan. In Europe, 32 reactors have been "Moxed" to date. MOX fuel helps fight against proliferation: the use of MOX in a reactor uses recovered plutonium beneficially, consuming significant quantities of it and downgrading its isotopic composition, thus contributing to nuclear non-proliferation.
In fact, Russia and the United States followed suit by electing to burn a portion of their surplus defense plutonium stockpiles in civilian nuclear reactors in the form of MOX, in accordance with disarmament treaties.