Japan’s Plutonium Plan Hits New, Local Obstacles

Activists protest the arrival of mixed-oxide fuel at a Japanese nuclear power plant last June. New, local steps against the possible use of MOX fuel in Japan could complicate efforts by Tokyo to justify increased production of plutonium, an expert said.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
April 10, 2014, 10:52 a.m.

Ja­pan’s case for stock­pil­ing plutoni­um risks be­ing un­der­cut by new, loc­al moves to stop the na­tion’s power plants from run­ning on the bomb-us­able ma­ter­i­al.

Ja­pan­ese com­munity of­fi­cials de­scribed new leg­al steps in op­pos­ing the use of mixed-ox­ide fuel — a plutoni­um-urani­um blend con­sidered po­ten­tially more haz­ard­ous than oth­er re­act­or ma­ter­i­al — as Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s gov­ern­ment pre­pared to au­thor­ize the first re­act­iv­a­tion of atom­ic sites since the 2011 Fukushi­ma plant dis­aster. The city of Hakod­ate last week sued to stop work on a nearby MOX fuel re­act­or, and Shizuoka pre­fec­ture’s gov­ernor said he wants to re­verse his pre­de­cessor’s ap­prov­al of its use.

The moves came as Abe’s ad­min­is­tra­tion pre­pared as soon as Fri­day to fi­nal­ize an en­ergy policy call­ing for the sep­ar­a­tion of ad­di­tion­al plutoni­um from nuc­le­ar waste, the New York Times re­por­ted. This ties in with the planned launch of the Rokkasho re­pro­cessing fa­cil­ity, which could gen­er­ate yet more plutoni­um on top of 9 tons it has stock­piled thus far, enough to power 2,000 nuc­le­ar arms.

One non­pro­lif­er­a­tion ex­pert said pub­lic op­pos­i­tion to MOX fuel is a re­l­at­ively re­cent de­vel­op­ment in Ja­pan. Re­l­at­ively few Ja­pan­ese re­act­ors are slated to run on the ma­ter­i­al, and the new loc­al steps could fur­ther un­der­mine the case for Rokkasho’s launch, Henry Sokol­ski, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Policy Edu­ca­tion Pro­ject in Wash­ing­ton, told Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire on Tues­day.

“There really is no prac­tic­al way to ir­ra­di­ate large quant­it­ies of the sur­plus plutoni­um any­time soon, with the re­act­ors they have or are plan­ning,” said Sokol­ski. “Giv­en how much plutoni­um they already have, plus what they in­tend to pro­duce, the idea that you can elim­in­ate these plutoni­um stocks in re­act­ors is pre­pos­ter­ous.”

He also noted China’s vo­cal op­pos­i­tion to any in­creased Ja­pan­ese plutoni­um pro­duc­tion.

Cor­rec­tion: This art­icle was up­dated to more ac­cur­ately char­ac­ter­ize the plutoni­um-sep­ar­a­tion com­pon­ent of Ja­pan’s Rokkasho fa­cil­ity and to in­clude ad­di­tion­al ex­plan­a­tion by Henry Sokol­ski.

What We're Following See More »
CALIFORNIA MAKES IT 21
FDA to Ban All Tobacco Sales to Minors
51 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

In a long-awaiting new rule, the Food and Drug Administration will ban sale of all tobacco products—including e-cigarettes—to those under 18. The rule takes effect in 90 days. It's part of a larger package of regulations that "gives FDA authority to regulate—but not to ban—all tobacco products, from e-cigarettes to cigars and hookahs." Meanwhile, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill on Wednesday that would bump the legal age to buy all tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Source:
#NEVERTRUMP
Sen. Sasse Calls for a Third Candidate
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

Sen. Ben Sasse, the most prominent elected official to declare that he's #NeverTrump, wrote an open letter on Facebook to the "majority of Americans who wonder why the nation that put a man on the moon can’t find a healthy leader who can take us forward together." Calling to mind recent conversations at a Fremont, Neb., Walmart, the senator pitted the presumptive general election battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as such a "terrible choice" that there would be an appetite for another candidate to emerge. In a parenthetical aside to reporters, Sasse ruled himself out. "Such a leader should be able to campaign 24/7 for the next six months," he wrote. "Therefore he/she likely can’t be an engaged parent with little kids." Meanwhile, his colleague Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) admitted in a private recording obtained by Politico that Trump hurts his reelection chances.

Source:
UTAH REPUBLICAN
Former Sen. Bob Bennett Dies at 82
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Former Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett died of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Bennett was defeated in a primary in 2010 by Tea Party–backed Mike Lee.

Source:
CLINTON HERSELF COULD TESTIFY LATER
Judge Approves Deposition of Clinton Aides
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, approved a joint proposal presented by Judicial Watch and the State Department to take the depositions of officials" involved in the setup and use of Hillary Clinton's private email server, "including Cheryl D. Mills, Clinton's former chief of staff, Huma Abedin, a senior adviser to Clinton, and Bryan Pagliano, a State Department employee who serviced and maintained the server." He said Clinton could be deposed later on, though that may not be necessary.

Source:
‘WORLD CLASS’ ORGANIZATION
Trump Will Not Self Fund the General Election
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump will not self-finance his general election campaign as he did the primary season, instead relying on "his expansive personal Rolodex" to create what he called a “world-class finance organization." 

Source:
×