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Web Exclusive | June 2013

Japan gets 1st reprocessed nuke fuel since Fukushima disaster

A nuclear power plant on June 27 received the first shipment of reprocessed reactor fuel to arrive in Japan since the 2011 Fukushima disaster. However, it will not be used until the facility gets government approval to restart its reactors. The fuel, a mixture of uranium and plutonium oxide called MOX, arrived aboard a freighter from France at the Takahama nuclear power station on the Sea of Japan coast in western Japan.

Dozens of anti-nuclear activists rallied outside the complex, chanting slogans against the shipment and use of plutonium-based fuel. Plant operator Kansai Electric Power Co is hoping to use the fuel once it gets the go-ahead to restart the reactors, reportedly by early next year. All but two of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors have been closed for safety checks and upgrades since a tsunami and earthquake in March 2011 touched off meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, northeast of Tokyo, causing extensive damage and massive radiation leaks.

The shipment, initially planned for arrival in early 2011 for use in the No 3 reactor at the Takahama plant, had been delayed amid growing anti-nuclear sentiment and uncertainty over Japan's fuel cycle policy following the Fukushima accident.

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