Anna Walker, head of the Energy Section of the UK's Department of Trade and Industry, and Hirobumi Kawano, chief of Japan's Natural Resources and Energy Agency, met again to resolve the MOX fuel problem on 11 July. As a result of this meeting, BNFL and Kansai Electric have come to an agreement on the issue of the MOX fuel held since last year at Takahama.
Under the terms of the agreement, the eight MOX fuel assemblies at Takahama will be returned to the UK. BNFL also agreed to pay £40 million in compensation to Kansai. In return, Kansai lifted the moratorium on new MOX fuel from BNFL and on its reprocessing business. BNFL also says that if it meets certain conditions on quality assurance and control procedures, then Kansai could choose to take just under half of the compensation in replacement MOX fuel.
Norman Askew, BNFL's chief executive, said: "We have been working very hard with our customers to find a solution.
I am very pleased that these matters have been resolved, and with the lifting of the moratorium, it opens the way for re-establishing a normal business relationship." He said that the compensation paved the way to unlock £4 billion of existing and future business in Japan, and could help persuade MOX customers in Switzerland and Germany to resume orders. However, Kansai Electric said it was not bound to resume imports, and Germany said its ban remains in place.
The date for the shipment will be fixed after negotiations with the US and with countries along the route.
The original problem arose from BNFL’s falsification of fuel data. BNFL has said that it has now rectified its procedures. “We will have done all the work that was recommended by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) by the end of July. It will obviously be up to the NII to decide whether what we have done meets their standards,” said BNFL spokesman Paul Vallance. BNFL has told the British government that it believes it has already met nine out of 15 recommendations relating to the MOX Demonstration Facility (MDF) and two out of 28 recommendations referring to general safety at Sellafield.