New York Poised to Close Last Coal-fire Power Plant

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Construction Commences on Enel’s Aurora Wind Farm in North Dakota

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Industry News

550-Pound Shipment of Plutonium Leaves Japan

LCG, July 5, 2002--A ship carrying reprocessed fuel from British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) left the western Japanese port town of Takahama today, the subject of discussion within Japan, the South Pacific, and among U.S. officials.

The fuel on board, contained in ceramic pellets, was to have been used in Kansai Electric's nuclear reactors, but BNFL's certification of the fuel during quality control tests was found to have been fraudulent. The ship, the Pacific Pintail, will travel without military escort, exposing it to possible security breaches, according to standards outlined in a jointly written report issued six years ago by Sandia National Laboratories, the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, the three labs responsible for U.S. nuclear weapons research.

While the ship, as well as an escort of a similar type, will have several deck-mounted 30-millimeter machine guns, South Korea reportedly requested that the shipment not cross the strait off Pusan, and which separates the two countries, according to the New York Times. The fuel, which is said to be capable of being processed into nuclear-weapons material, could be vulnerable to dispersal over a large area by heavy explosives, or theft by way of an armed attack.

The Guam delegate to the House of Representatives, Robert A. Underwood, said that he had expresed concerns about the implications of situations which might arise during the ship's voyage to a port in Northwestern England to Congress and the Pentagon.

Plutonium from spent reactor rods from outside the countrry is commonly used at Japanese nuclear power generators, and is mixed with that uranium which Japan is able to supply itself.
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