After Environment minister M. Goshi Hosono considered the possibility to spread radiation to the whole of Japan (Cf. Hosono’s Spread of Radioactivity Decision Promoted by Mainichi Daily News), Industry minister M. Yoshio Hachiro admitted in an article published yesterday by the same newspaper which regularly relays and supports the goverment policies, that Japan had received an offer from French nuclear power company Areva SA to take charge of spent nuclear fuel from Fukushima, and hence start spreading radiation from the disaster in other countries. France and Japan regularly share their nuclear waste. For instance, France (and UK) sent 1800 kg of plutonium in form of Mixed Oxide (MOX) to Japan in February 2009, enough to built 225 nuclear bombs, according to Greenpeace. In a precursor of the inanity that would follow during the whole mismanagement of the Fukushima crisis, half of the MOX was returned because of its poor quality and unusuability. Yet shipments continued with the latest not later than August 2011, according to a report from World Nuclear News. Since the article from Mainichi Daily News advertises a supposed plan by the government to move out of nuclear energy, this MOX shipment in the middle of the nuclear crisis casts some doubt about its real intentions. The purpose of this SurvivalJapan post is to illustrate that European expats who leave Japan may run from the devil into the deep blue sea. Indeed, the nuclear waste may follow them back home and this should be pondered in deciding of a survival strategy.
Today, Asahi Shimbun published an article which content focuses on the French proposal. Besides providing some background to this story, it reminds us that Japan is building its own reprocessing facility in Rokkasho, Aomori prefecture, at the northern tip of Honshu island. The facility is due for completion in 2012, to extract plutonium from domestic spent nuclear fuel… Besides the danger of the place, and to return to the Mainichi Daily News propaganda, if the Japanese government really meant to have zero nuclear power plant in the future, and given the poor state of its finance, wouldn’t it immediately stop the project for a reprocessing facility? The answer is clearly that the government is trying to calm down the public concern and gain some popularity and trust, yet by making untrustful statements which are not consistent with the current nuclear activities of MOX import and Rokkasho continuous project. Furthermore, the nuclear industry is the first source of local government profits and job creation in rural areas, as is explained in an excellent New York Times article titled “In Japan, a Culture That Promotes Nuclear Dependency”. Unfortunately, nuclear power plants are here to stay in Japan no matter what the government says – we should find where they are the least dangerous and the most far away (apparently only in Okinawa).
The Mainichi article / government propaganda is reproduced hereafter :
No. of Japan’s nuclear plants to be zero in future: Hachiro
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Industry minister Yoshio Hachiro said Tuesday that the number of Japan’s nuclear power plants would be “zero” in the future, based on Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s policy of not building new nuclear power plants and decommissioning aged ones.
“Considering the premier’s remarks at press conferences, it would be zero,” Hachiro told reporters in answer to the question whether the number of nuclear plants would reduce to none in the future.
Hachiro added that it would be “difficult” to proceed with plans to build new nuclear plants whose construction has yet to begin, such as Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Kaminoseki plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture. “Public opinion is generally united in reducing (nuclear plants), instead of increasing them,” he said.
As for nuclear power plants whose construction has begun, such as Chugoku Electric’s Shimane plant’s No. 3 reactor in Shimane Prefecture and Electric Power Development Co.’s Oma nuclear power plant in Aomori Prefecture, Hachiro said he intends to make a decision based on discussions at the ministry’s advisory committee on energy and natural resources.
Japan currently plans to set up 12 reactors nationwide, excluding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s No. 7 and 8 reactors, whose construction plan was canceled by the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the complex. But construction has not progressed much for most of the projects.
As for the resumption of reactors idled for regular checkups, Hachiro said that Noda has approved a plan to seek safety assessments from the International Atomic Energy Agency as part of the so-called nuclear “stress tests” introduced by the Japanese government given the Fukushima crisis.
Hachiro has said he aims to resume operations of the halted reactors nationwide soon once their safety is thoroughly checked and local municipalities hosting the plants approve their resumption.
Meanwhile, Hachiro admitted that Japan has received an offer from French nuclear power company Areva SA to take charge of spent nuclear fuel at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi plant, but he did not reveal Japan’s response to the offer.
(Mainichi Japan) September 6, 2011
The Asahi Shimbun article is reproduced hereafter :
French offered to take Fukushima fuel, Kan says
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, left, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon at the OECD 50th Anniversary Forum at the OECD headquarters, in Paris, France, 25 May. (AP file photo)
France offered to dispose of spent fuel from the stricken Fukushima No. 1 power plant following the nuclear disaster, but Japan has yet to reply to the proposal, Naoto Kan told The Asahi Shimbun on Sept. 5 in his first interview since stepping down as prime minister.
Kan said French Prime Minister Francois Fillon made the offer when they met at the Group of Eight summit in Deauville, France, in late May.
“France said it would be willing to carry back the spent nuclear fuel,” Kan said. “While it may have been a sort of business opportunity, I naturally passed on the suggestion to bureaucrats at the Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry (METI),” Kan said.
He said the Japanese government is still discussing the French proposal. There is strong opposition from within METI because of a feeling among officials that allowing France to dispose of the spent nuclear fuel would upset the Japanese government’s established policy of recycling its own nuclear fuel domestically.
According to initial investigations by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima plant, the spent nuclear fuel in the storage pools of the No. 1 to No. 4 reactors was not as badly damaged as fuel within the reactor cores. There were 3,108 nuclear fuel rods in the pools, of which 2,724 were spent.
France has some of the world’s most advanced fuel reprocessing technology, and disposing of the spent Fukushima rods would provide an opportunity to publicize those capabilities.
Japan no longer uses French facilities to reprocess spent fuel and has its own reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, that is scheduled for completion in 2012. The Rokkasho facility would extract plutonium from spent nuclear fuel.
METI officials fear that giving France the Fukushima work could be taken as a sign that it has given up on its own recycling plan. No response was given to Paris about Fillon’s proposal, and the matter is still being considered by a government panel on energy and the environment.