Pacific Nuclear Transport Limited (PNTL) said Wednesday that two of its ships – the Pacific Heron and the Pacific Egret – had departed the port of Cherbourt in France on a two-month trip to Japan laden with MOX fuel that is designated for the Kansai Electric Power Company's Takahama Unit 4.
The ships are expected to arrive in Japanese waters in the second half of September, the company said.
“The voyage,” PNTL said in a statement, “is being undertaken with all necessary safety and security permissions from national and international regulators and the purpose-built ships are sailed by some of the most experienced nuclear mariners in the world.”
PNTL is a subsidiary of International Nuclear Services. The fuel assemblies were produced by French nuclear design and construction company Areva.
The World Nuclear Association (WNA) notes that the shipment is the sixth such shipment of MOX fuel that is headed to Japan from Europe. The fuel itself is produced with plutonium extracted from spent fuel in a reprocessing plant. Although Japan has not sent used fuel to Europe since 1998, “routinely” spent fuel is sent to Europe for processing with MOX fuel and the remaining waste returned to the country of origin. Japan, however, is in the process of creating its own MOX fuel reprocessing plant, the WNA noted.
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