Two ships loaded with plutonium and highly enriched uranium from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s Fast Critical Assembly reactor arrived Tuesday at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina. The British-flagged Pacific Egret and Pacific Heron were carrying 331 kg of weapon-usable plutonium. About 236 kg, used for nuclear-reactor testing in Japan, originated in the United Kingdom, while around 93 kg is of U.S. origin and 3 kg is of French origin, according to Savannah River Site Watch, a nongovernmental organization tracking the shipment. The two ships, which are usually used to transport spent nuclear fuel between Japan and Europe for reprocessing, departed the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, in March and were originally expected to reach their destination last month.
Japan Times 7th June 2016 read more »
After a 10-week voyage from Japan, Barrow-based ships Pacific Egret and Pacific Heron docked in Charleston’s naval yards in the early hours of 4th June 2016 – at least 3 weeks later than projected. Once unloaded, the cargo – consisting of 331kgs plutonium from Japan’s Tokai Mura research facility and a quantity of Highly Enriched uranium (most of the materials originally sourced from the UK) – was transported to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Both ships sailed from Charleston in the early morning of 6th June heading back to the UK. Although the contentious shipment of weapons-usable material was undertaken under utmost secrecy and with the ships’ Automatic Identification Sytems (AIS) turned off in order to remain ‘incognito’, their progress has been tracked by CORE and others since leaving their home port of Barrow-in-Furness on 19th January 2016 – from entering the Panama Canal on 6th February (when all Canal webcams were deliberately shut down), their arrival at Japan’s Kobe port on 3rd March, the plutonium loading on the Pacific Egret at the small nuclear port at Tokai Mura and departure to the US on 22nd March, to their tug-assisted journey up Charleston’s Cooper River to the naval yards.
CORE 7th June 2016 read more »
World Nuclear News 7th June 2016 read more »
According to the 2015 Euratom Annual Report, EU-28 countries used 10,780 kg of plutonium in MOX fuel of their nuclear reactors, bringing the cumulative total to 195,019 kg of plutonium used in MOX in 1996-2015. The quantity of MOX fuel loaded into power reactors in the EU in 2015 is a 7% decrease over the 11,603 kg used in 2014.
IPFM 6th June 2016 read more »