If enriching Uranium and Plutonium is profitable – Why is Japan dumping them as waste?

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The Japanese government admitted Thursday that nuclear substances have been found in the waste of domestic facilities subject to International Atomic Energy Agency inspection, but left unreported to the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

Top government spokesman Osamu Fujimura said in a news conference that the matter will be reported to the IAEA soon, but did not say how much nuclear material was involved.


The chief Cabinet secretary said an investigation last year of records led to the discovery of nuclear substances that were unaccounted for in waste at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency‘s Oarai Research and Development Center in Ibaraki Prefecture.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology then conducted a probe in August of nuclear energy facilities subject to the IAEA’s safeguard program and also found nuclear substances unaccounted for in facilities other than the agency’s.

“Based on investigation so far, most nuclear substances have been properly managed as waste, and from that perspective, there is no problem in safety management,” Fujimura said.

He added that the matter is still being investigated.

Senior government officials earlier said Japan has begun discussing with the IAEA about the discovery of unaccounted-for or unreported enriched uranium and plutonium in large quantities of nuclear waste disposed of by Japanese facilities.

 

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The science ministry, which oversees the JAEA, expanded the scope of investigation this August to about 250 facilities subject to the IAEA’s safeguard program, finding unaccounted-for nuclear materials in waste at 14 facilities, including some 4 tons of low-enriched uranium at a private nuclear fuel company.

The ministry also found radioactive substances in waste disposed of after the safeguard deal took effect while investigating the Chubu, Hokuriku and Chugoku electric power companies — and other nuclear energy firms.

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Japan claims to have presented informal reports on its findings to the IAEA and started discussing them with the agency, the officials said, adding that the 2.8 kg of highly enriched uranium and 4 tons of low-enriched uranium are seen as especially serious matters within the government. It is unclear what was thought of the 636 grams of plutonium or when exactly the findings were reported.

 


Japan’s safeguard agreement with the IAEA came into force in 1977.

In October 2010, unaccounted-for nuclear substances were found in waste from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s Oarai Research and Development Center in Ibaraki Prefecture, the sources said. The waste was disposed of before the 1977 effectuation of a safeguard agreement between Japan and the IAEA.

In a follow-up investigation, the government found some 2.8 kg of highly enriched uranium solidified with cement and 636 grams of plutonium at the JAEA’s Nuclear Science Research Institute in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, where a fatal criticality accident occurred in 1999.

Source: Mainichi

Source: Mainichi

Source: Japan Times

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