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Forgotten Detonation Danger

The Tokai Reprocessing Plant in Japan-


By  Japanese Poet/Journalist Taki Yuriko


Translated by John Saxon


120 km from Tokyo as the crow flies,

It ignited Japan’s first atomic fire.

Since 1963,

Ibaraki’s Tokai Village has shared

The leading edge of atomic research.


18 other nuclear facilities

Stand within 30 km of

The Tokai No. 2 Atomic Power Plant,

The densest such array in Japan.

By some miracle, could all these facilities

Stay accident-free

As they age and wear?


One, a national facility, is the Tokai Reprocessing Plant.

It extracts plutonium.

In the USA, such plants once produced

The raw materials for atomic weapons.

Japan defends its peaceful uses of plutonium

Like the nuclear fuel cycle –

Still a technologically unstable process.
Almost all such plants overseas have shut down.


Continuing breakdowns at this,

Japan’s first reprocessing plant

Have forced its planned shutdown.


Highly radioactive waste fluid remains

In the Tokai Reprocessing Plant,

Enough for billions of lethal doses.


The large amount of nitric acid solution,

Waste fluid after plutonium extraction,

Would be left as is,

Since the decision to decommission

Left no new budget for safety measures.


As liquid,

It leaks through tank fissures.

As terribly radioactive waste,
It creates heat constantly,

Needing nonstop cooling.
Any stoppage

Induces a hydrogen explosion. *1

Only electricity can keep

The cool water flowing.

A blackout via earthquake or tsunami,

A tank breach from a crashing Osprey V.22,

Would create a disaster much worse

Than Fukushima.


A 5 m/s wind would blow west from Tokyo.

Half of all people could die

As far west as Shiga and Kyoto,

600 km away. *2


Dissolving plutonium in nitric acid is just wrong.

It yields a concentrated effluent

Killing any bystander in 20 seconds.

The Rokkasho Village plant in Aomori Prefecture,

Built to somehow solidify such effluent,

Is at a standstill.


Since they cannot openly make nuclear weapons,

They actually began reprocessing plutonium

Under the guise of peace.

This is just wrong.


It should never, ever be done.

Decommissioning a reprocessing plant

Is orders of magnitude

More protracted and onerous

Than ordinary nuclear plants.


10 years since the Fukushima accident.

Radiation leaks continue unabated.

That night’s “Nuclear Emergency Declaration”

Is not yet rescinded.

Now the terrifying effluent in

The Tokai Reprocessing Plant
Seems totally forgotten.

Even worse, they will restart

A nearby nuclear plant,

More aged and worn than Fukushima. *3

Restarting this plant makes it easier

To restart the other plants

Idled since Fukushima.

They will make more raw materials

For nuclear weapons.

They will tell other countries

It reduces carbon emissions.


Though the whole world suffers and struggles

Against the covid-19 pandemic

The Japanese government holds to

The outdated myth of nuclear deterrence.

Restarting the inactive plants

Is now a national policy

Promoted by the Japanese government.

Japan, the world’s only country

To suffer nuclear bombing

Has not signed the

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)


The ill-justified reprocessing plant, now abandoned,

Exposes us all to detonation danger.



*1 If the cooling system and hydrogen removal systems are shut down, then boiling occurs between 15 and 55 hours, followed by a hydrogen explosion between 7 and 38 hours.


*2 This is the result of calculations by Dr. Jinzaburo Takagi, who applied the method for calculating the spread of radioactivity in Japan based on a) measurements done by the Norwegian government of a reprocessing plant explosion in England, and on b) measurements done by the German government of an explosion simulation at a reprocessing plant in the former East Germany.


*3 Regarding the Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant: the Tokai Reprocessing Plant is only 3 km to the south. If the Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant were to be restarted and cause an accident, the fire would naturally jump to the reprocessing plant and a major catastrophe would be expected.




What is a reprocessing plant?

73-A reprocessing plant is a facility that extracts usable uranium and plutonium from spent nuclear fuel inside the reactor of a nuclear power plant. It is a key facility in the policy to reuse spent fuel in the nuclear fuel cycle.


Production   of   nuclear   weapons   by   plutonium extraction

75-In general, when nuclear fuel consisting of low-enriched uranium is “burned” in the reactor of a nuclear power plant, neutrons are absorbed by uranium-238 producing plutonium. Reprocessing is a process to extract the plutonium. Possessing both spent nuclear fuel and a reprocessing plant means the ability to obtain plutonium, the raw material for nuclear weapons.


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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