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Court reject citizens' demand on MOX fuel

June 27, 2016


High court denies injunction against MOX fuel use at nuclear plant



FUKUOKA (Kyodo) -- The Fukuoka High Court upheld Monday a lower court decision rejecting a citizens group's demand that fuel containing plutonium is not to be used for power generation at an idled reactor in southwestern Japan due to safety concerns.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. is seeking state approval to restart the No. 3 reactor of the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture and use plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel, commonly known as MOX fuel, created through spent fuel reprocessing.

MOX fuel is created using plutonium and uranium extracted from spent nuclear fuel. It is a key component of the nuclear fuel cycle pursued by the nuclear power industry and the government.

The Genkai No. 3 reactor, designed to run on both MOX fuel and uranium fuel, became the first in Japan in 2009 to use MOX. It went offline in 2010 for a regular checkup and remained idle as the operator sought to clear stricter safety requirements set following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The earlier ruling in March last year by the Saga District Court was the first over the legality of MOX use at a reactor. The court said then there had been no evidence to prove using MOX raises the possibility of a serious accident.

The plaintiffs comprising southwestern Japan residents argued a gap could develop between the MOX fuel and its tube container, and that the gap would cause a cooling failure, leading to a grave accident such as a meltdown.

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