FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Ed Lyman, Paul Leventhal
Friday, December 17, 1999 tel. 1-202-822-8444, firstname.lastname@example.org
JAPAN SHOULD HALT PLUTHERMAL (MOX) PROGRAM
NCI Report Shows MOX Presents Severe Health and Safety Risks
WASHINGTON---While welcoming the decision of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and the Kansai Electric Company (KEPCO) to postpone use of MOX fuel fabricated by British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL), this decision falls short of cancelling the program, according to the Nuclear Control Institute (NCI).
The use of MOX fuel is dangerous under any circumstances and the Japanese Government should now take decisive steps to halt the entire MOX program, said NCI Scientific Director Dr. Edwin Lyman. Any use of MOX fuel places the Japanese public and environment at risk. Without reliable quality control of MOX fuel the risks of a severe accident are even higher.
In October, in meetings with the mayor and residents of Takahama, NCI President Paul Leventhal and Dr. Lyman discussed the results of an NCI analysis of the potential consequences of a severe accident using MOX at the Takahama reactors. The study by Dr. Lyman concluded that the number of cancer fatalities resulting from an accident involving a quarter-core MOX would be more than double the consequences if the reactor were operating with a full uranium core.
Quality control is important to performance of fuel in a reactor because use of MOX itself, whether from BNFL or Frances COGEMA, could increase both the probability and the consequences of a severe accident in Japan, said Leventhal. The potential consequences of a severe accident involving a plutonium-fueled reactor are too great to allow MOX loading and use to proceed. The Japanese government should cancel plans to use plutonium before larger economic costs are incurred and public safety is placed at risk, he continued.
Dr. Lymans report concludes that it is imperative that Japan reconsider its plan to begin loading MOX fuel in LWRs. The authorities will have to come to the conclusion that the increased risk associated with MOX use is too great a burden for the Japanese public to bear, and that the focus of the Japanese nuclear industry in the future should be to concentrate on operating their existing nuclear plants safely with conventional LEU fuel.