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    Radiation levels started to rise sharply after steam was seen escaping from unit 3 at the plant


    The worrisome thing about this is Unit 3 is fueled with MOX. It was just done in 2010 or 2009 so there shouldn't be any of these fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool.

    The fuel, known generically as  MOX,  was made by nuclear giant AREVA in France, where MOX technology has been used for almost two decades.

    The rods, made by blending small amounts of plutonium with traditional uranium, were loaded into  Unit 3 of the Fukushima Dai - ichi nuclear plant last September.

    Makhijani said the unit contains 32 MOX assemblies , about 5 percent of the fuel now in the reactor, where an explosion this week kindled fears of a radiation release.

    “With this fuel, the risks of accidental criticality are different,”  Makhijani said. “You have the same kinds of problems ; they are just more intense with plutonium.”

    There's a reprocessing facility currently being built by the same French company that manufactured Japan's fuel at Savannah River to manufacture MOX.

    Slow progress towards US use of MOX 21 February 2011

    The $4.8 billion Savannah River MOX Plant is being built by Shaw Areva MOX Services to combine 34 tonnes of 'surplus' plutonium oxide with uranium oxide to create fuel for conventional power reactors. Russia is disposing of an identical amount of plutonium through a bilateral arms reduction deal that eliminates explosive fuel from some 17,000 unwanted nuclear weapons.

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