As the U.S. federal government…
The struggling U.S. coal industry…
Ever since the Fukushima nuclear meltdown the US has taken a close interest in Japan’s nuclear program, and wields its geopolitical mite to influence that program as much as possible.
As Mitsuhei Murata, the former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland, said in August last year: “In the US there are 31 [sic] units the same type of that of Fukushima nuclear plant [23 are virtually identical to Fukushima]. So, if the accident be spread too far that really embarrasses the US. So that is why the crisis of Unit 4 has been toned down recently. The USA is actually the main reason.”
So the US has been determined to play down the negative press about the Fukushima disaster, in order to avoid any close analysis of its own nuclear power plants back home, and protect its nuclear industry from facing a similar public backlash to Japan’s poor industry.
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One of the ways that the US tried to calm the furore over the Fukushima disaster, was to help Japan to raise the acceptable radiation levels, so that any leak of radioactive particles would be deemed less serious.
And ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was thought to have signed an agreement with her Japanese counterpart to promise that the US would continue to buy seafood from Japan, as proof that all is well, even though the FD has so far refused to actually test the sea-food for any radiation and determine that it is safe for consumption.
As part of the US’s efforts to keep Japan’s nuclear industry alive, at the end of last month, Mainichi Shimbum, one of the largest Japanese newspapers, reported that “the Japanese prime ministerial envoy secretly promised to the United States that Japan would resume its controversial ‘pluthermal’ program, using light-water reactors to burn plutonium, according to documents obtained by the Mainichi.”
The ‘pluthermal’ program mixes uranium with plutonium, extracted from spent nuclear fuel, to form a mixed-oxide (MOX). The resulting MOX fuel can then be used in light-water reactors, and provides a useful means of disposing of dangerous plutonium.
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Nuclear experts have criticised Japan’s program, questioning the high costs, and the high risks that the MOC fuel poses, due to its lower melting point, and therefore higher risk of suffering a meltdown.
The decision to resume the pluthermal program could be very controversial, especially as the country has still not decided which nuclear reactors it will approve for restart.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com