Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has taken delivery of MOX fuel to be used in a BWR unit at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa. The 28 fuel assemblies, manufactured by Belgonucleaire, arrived on the Pacific Pintail at around 6am on 24 March. Their journey had brought them from Cherbourg on 19 January, around Cape Horn and across the South Pacific.
Unloading the three shipping casks containing the fuel and transferring them to a new fuel storage area took around five hours.
Security was tight at the site, with around 400 police on hand. The Japanese Maritime Agency was responsible for security in Japanese waters and employed aircraft and helicopters to patrol the area. About 300 protestors gathered on the beach near the plant with banners, but the port is inside the nuclear power plant site so there was little opportunity for active demonstrations.
Kashiwazaki-Kariwa has found itself the front runner on using MOX fuel, thanks to the furore that followed the discovery of falsified MOX data on a shipment sent to Takahama from BNFL. The use of MOX at Takahama has been indefinitely postponed, while loading into Fukushima Daiichi 3 (also planned to have MOX from Belgonucleaire) has been delayed by at least a year because the governor of Fukushima refused to give permission. Tepco had initially been expected to take advantage of regular maintenance closures in April to load the fuel.
It is still not clear whether the MOX fuel will be loaded into Kashiwazaki-Kariwa this year, and antinuclear activists are calling for a referendum. Tepco, however, has decided to go ahead with its preparations on the assumption that approval will be obtained.