The second shipment of MOX fuel left Cherbourg on January 19 for Japan. These fuel assemblies were manufactured by Belgo Nucleaire from plutonium extracted from Japanese spent fuel by Cogema. In total, 28 assemblies were shipped in 4 shipping containers. The fuel is scheduled to be loaded into TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa unit 3 during the April shutdown.

The journey is expected to take approximately 2 months and the route will be round the tip of South Africa, across the south Indian Ocean and through the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand. The New Zealand Foreign Minister, Phil Goff, has already protested against the shipment.

Although Japan’s plans to load MOX into Takahama and Fukushima reactors last year had to be abandoned, TEPCO apparently intends to proceed with the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa loading as it had originally planned.