MOX fuel arrives at Takahama nuclear power plant

A shipment of reprocessed nuclear fuel from France arrived at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast on Wednesday.

The plant's operator, Kansai Electric Power Company, ordered a French firm to manufacture the MOX, or mixed oxide, fuel. The fuel is a mixture of uranium and plutonium reprocessed from spent nuclear fuel.

A vessel carrying the fuel assemblies docked at a quay at the plant around 8 a.m. and work to unload the shipment began. A Japan Coast Guard vessel and local police guarded the vessel, which is equipped against possible terrorist attacks.

The delivery is the first MOX fuel to arrive from abroad since September 2017.

The fuel is to be used at the plant's No.3 and 4 reactors.

Power generation using MOX fuel, called pluthermal power generation, is a key element of Japan's nuclear fuel recycling policy. Japan has outsourced the manufacturing of MOX fuel to overseas firms, as it has yet to set up reprocessing facilities at home.

About 20 activists opposing the delivery gathered about two kilometers away on a shore facing the plant. They say MOX fuel is more dangerous than conventional fuel because it becomes hotter and takes longer to cool down.

When the vessel came into view, they displayed a banner protesting the delivery.