The Japanese utility Kansai Electric Power suspended its orders for mixed oxide (MOX) fuel from France's Melox plant. This follows the refusal by Japan's ministry of economy, trade and industry (METI) to accept Kansai Electric's and Melox's quality assurance procedures for the fuel.
The move could cost Kansai Electric ¥6 billion ($46 million) fuel already produced by Commox - a joint enterprise between France's Cogema (who own the Melox plant) and Belgium's Belgonucleaire.
A statement issued by METI said: "The ministry cannot confirm that Kansai Electric's own preliminary audit and evaluation at the Melox plant, or the company's dispatch of its own staff to the plant, are sufficient to confirm the fabrication state and quality assurance activities. The ministry will not pass the said MOX fuel even if the company files an application for an examination." Kansai Electric said: "There is no quality problem" with the MOX concerned, but added that it understood METI's response was the "final decision of the ministry responsible for nuclear safety regulation." Kansai Electric said it would continue its efforts to return eight MOX fuel assemblies produced at BNFL's MOX Demonstration Facility as soon as possible. Quality assurance data on these assemblies, planned to be loaded at Takahama 4, was found to have been falsified. Following the return of the fuel, Kansai Electric "will consider another plan to load MOX fuel, while seeking understanding from the people, both locally and nationally."