free web site hit counter
Search CNIC

Nuclear cooperation agreements signed with UAE and Turkey

    While touring Middle East countries, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was present at the signing of nuclear cooperation agreements between the Japanese government and the UAE (May 2) and Turkey (May 3). In the Joint Declaration on the Establishment of Strategic Partnership, PM Abe and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey “Expressed their satisfaction with the signing of the ‘Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Turkey for Co-operation in the Use of Nuclear Energy for Peaceful Purposes’ and the ‘Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Turkey on Co-operation for Development of Nuclear Power Plants and the Nuclear Power Industry in the Republic of Turkey’, and the granting of the exclusive right of negotiations to Japan regarding the construction of the Sinop Nuclear Power Plant. They also affirmed their hope that the negotiations will lead to establishing a new avenue of co-operation in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”
    In talks between PM Abe and Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia on April 30, agreement was reached on the consideration of concluding a nuclear cooperation agreement between the two countries.

TEPCO exchanges plutonium with German power company

    On April 23, TEPCO announced that it had agreed to exchange, through amendments to balance sheets, a part, 434 kg, of the 2.5 tons of plutonium that it owns in France for the same amount of plutonium held by a German power company in the UK. With the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi NPP Unit 3, TEPCO no longer has any use for either MOX fuel now being processed or plutonium, while the German company finds itself unable to process MOX fuel due to the closure of a processing factory in the UK, and thus the two sides found themselves with matching interests. The German side will now process the MOX fuel in France, and TEPCO will have a part of the plutonium stored in France now stored in the UK.

US-ROK civilian nuclear cooperation agreement to be extended for two years

     The US-Republic of Korea (ROK) civilian nuclear cooperation agreement was signed in November 1972 and came into force in March 1973. At the time, it was to be valid for 30 years, but this was extended to 41 years when an amended agreement was signed in May 1974. This agreement is due to expire in March 2014. The two countries have been negotiating a renewal since October 2010, but have been unable to reach a compromise. On April 24, it was announced that agreement had been reached on a two-year extension.
    The renewal negotiations stalled because the ROK side is demanding a comprehensive agreement on uranium enrichment and the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. An ROK government official has been reported as stating that the ROK sense of rivalry has been stimulated by the fact that “Japan is allowed to do these.” 
    The reprocessing method that the ROK is attempting to introduce is a dry form of reprocessing known as pyroprocessing, in which the oxidized spent nuclear fuel is reduced to metals, from which the fission products are then separated by electrolysis. The ROK side is claiming that since the minor actinides are not separated from the plutonium when it is extracted, this method is more proliferation resistant. The US side, however, does not acknowledge that the method is more proliferation resistant and maintains that both reprocessing and enrichment contravene the 1992 Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
    Having for the time being extended the validity of the agreement, the two countries will now continue negotiations every three months.

MOX fuel for Takahama Unit 3 departs from France

    On April 17, 20 MOX fuel assemblies for the Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) Takahama NPP Unit 3 were loaded onto two specialized UK-registered ships (the Pacific Heron and Pacific Egret) and began their journey from the French manufacturer to Japan. The two ships are armed and the idea is that they will escort each other. The ships will round the Cape of Good Hope and take the southwest Pacific route, apparently due to arrive at Takahama NPP’s private port in late June.
    The consignment was supposed to have been shipped in the spring of 2011, but was postponed due to the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident. Takahama Unit 3 has been shut down since February 2012, but KEPCO is reportedly planning to apply to the Nuclear Regulation Authority to restart the reactor as early as July this year. However, loading of the MOX fuel is not yet scheduled.

Order suspends Monju operation

    On May 30, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) ordered the suspension of preparations for a restart of trial operation of Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s (JAEA) prototype fast breeder reactor, Monju, due to failure to carry out roughly 10,000 inspections within the facility, and the ensuing sloppy response. With the exception, for example, of checks necessary for maintaining security, activities connected with pre-operation work, including an exchange of fuel, are suspended. The suspension will be enforced until the NRA has completed its assessment of the report on the implementation of improvements related to the suspension order. A major reason for the NRA issuing this very severe order is that not only the non-inspection of equipment and time between inspections were unilaterally altered without taking necessary procedures, even after the submission of a flawed report on the situation no new measures were taken. JAEA president Atsuyuki Suzuki announced his resignation on May 17.

Rat stops spent fuel pool cooling system

    On March 18 at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, a rat somehow gained entry to an outdoor electrical junction box, resulting in a loss of power when it caused a short by touching a terminal. The spent fuel pools of Units 1, 2, and 3 (now undergoing decommissioning due to the March 2011 accident) and the common fuel pool could not be cooled from between 19 and a half to 29 hours. On April 5, while installing a steel mesh fence as a countermeasure, a wire from the steel mesh came into contact with a terminal in the junction box, causing another short and making the cooling for Unit 3 spent fuel pool inoperable for three hours. Furthermore, on April 22, two dead rats were found inside an outdoor transformer, causing the Unit 2 spent fuel cooling to be suspended for 4 hours while the rats were removed and the transformer inspected.

Photo of the corpse of the rat that stopped the spent fuel pool cooling system (TEPCO)

Return to NIT 153 contents

Return to CNIC News Service


Citizens' Nuclear Information Center
Akebonobashi Co-op 2F-B, 8-5 Sumiyoshi-cho,
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 162-0065, Japan