BNFL hit by claims that it faked tests on atom fuel for Japan power station

BRITISH NUCLEAR Fuels was at the centre of fresh controversy last night after environmentalists claimed that tests on plutonium being sent to a Japanese power plant may have been faked.

BRITISH NUCLEAR Fuels was at the centre of fresh controversy last night after environmentalists claimed that tests on plutonium being sent to a Japanese power plant may have been faked.

The claims come two weeks after The Independent revealed that checks at the company's Sellafield plant in Cumbria had been falsified. At the time, BNFL insisted that the falsification involved only fuel under production in the UK - not the consignment due to dock in Japan today.

However, an investigation into that fuel, earmarked for the Takahama 4 reactor, in Fukui prefecture, has shown that one rogue set of tests might have allowed imperfect mixed plutonium and uranium oxide (MOX) pellets through the safety net. Information supplied by BNFL to Kansai Electric Power Company, which runs Takahama 4, also shows that the British company knew data had been falsified as early as 20 August, but did not tell Mitsubishi, Kansai's contractor, until 9 September.

The Independent had been making inquiries around this date and challenged BNFL on 10 September. Kansai was not told until the 13 September, the day before the news broke.

Suggestions that a batch of pellets on board the Pacific Pintail, which is carrying the BNFL MOX, might be suspect follow an examination of data by Professor Hidiyuki Koyama, of Osaka Prefectural University, on behalf of anti-nuclear campaigners.

It relates to tests on a batch of 200 pellets, numbered P824, in which 68 bore exactly the same microscopic measurements as their corresponding numbers in the previous batch. The suspicion now is that the results were simply copied to save time.

Politicians were left even more unsure of the fuel heading towards them when a legislator asked: "Do you consider this problem to be at the BNFL corporate level?", to which a Kansai representative replied: "There is no ethics education [at BNFL]." The company is expected to come under more pressure tomorrow, when the US Senate will be asked by a number of politicians to launch an investigation into the shipments of MOX.

Under a US-Japan agreement, MOX vessels were to be escorted at all times by armed vessels in government service. BNFL's ships, the Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal, have been fitted with 30mm cannon and have effectively been escorting each other.

Aileen Mioko Smith, director of the Japanese environmental group Green Action, said: "Doubts over BNFL's quality control ... have seriously damaged its reputation here. People are asking what sort of operation it is and whether Japan should be dealing with it." BNFL said Kansai and the Agency of National Resources and Energy in Japan accepted its figures and were happy the fuel on Pintail had not been subjected to falsified tests.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable