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Japan Receives First Radioactive Waste Since Fukushima Crisis

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UK Vessel Sets Sail With Another Radioactive Headache
An undated handout photograph shows the Pacific Grebe. Source: International Nuclear Services Ltd. via Bloomberg

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- A ship carrying radioactive waste arrived in Japan, the first shipment of the dangerous material since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The 5,100-ton Pacific Grebe arrived at Mutsu-Ogawara port in northern Japan today, Masako Sawai, a member of Tokyo-based Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center, said by phone. She was among about 50 protesters at the port.

Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. is receiving the cargo of spent fuel from Japanese nuclear plants that was reprocessed in the U.K. Kyoji Ebisawa, a spokesman at the company, said he can’t comment on the arrival until the waste is delivered to the nearby Rokkasho storage site later today.

Thousands of workers are struggling to contain radiation leaks after the meltdown of three reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, about 400 kilometers (240 miles) south of the port.

“The accident at Fukushima hasn’t been resolved,” Sawai said. “We are concerned accidents can happen during the transportation of radioactive waste.

The Pacific Grebe set sail from the port of Barrow-in-Furness in the U.K. on Aug. 3. The waste is sealed in 76 stainless steel canisters.

Japan contracted the U.K. and France to process its fuel in the 1970s and waste from the process is shipped back for storage. Today’s cargo is the second shipment from the U.K. and about eight more shipments are scheduled through 2020, according to Ebisawa.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo at cwatanabe5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Langan at plangan@bloomberg.net; Teo Chian Wei at cwteo@bloomberg.net

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