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US, Japan to collaborate on nuclear plants

The US and Japan are developing a joint nuclear energy plan to collaborate on research and construction of new nuclear power plants.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2007 09:25 IST

The US and Japan are developing a joint nuclear energy plan to collaborate on research and construction of new nuclear power plants, US and Japanese officials said in Washington.

US secretary of energy Samuel Bodman and Akira Amari, Japanese minister of economy, trade and industry, met in Washington to discuss energy cooperation.

The officials told reporters Tuesday they intend to announce a plan by April to address research and development under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, the construction of new nuclear power plants and regulatory and non-proliferation-related nuclear exchanges.

Bodman said that specific plans are to be developed over the next three months but will likely include tapping Japanese engineers to work on new nuclear power plants in the US.

He said that Japanese scientists and nuclear engineers would lend technical expertise in advanced, so-called fast reactors, which use nuclear fuel more efficiently. Fast reactors yield more energy while producing significantly less radioactive waste to be disposed.

Japan is in the process of developing such reactors to be put into use on a trial basis in 2008, Amari said.

"In Japan we have among the greatest scientists and engineers in this field," Bodman said.

In the US, 103 nuclear reactors supply nearly 20 percent of the nation's electricity, but since the 1979 US accident at Three Mile Island and the Chernobyl in 1986 in the Soviet Union, only one US plant has come on line in 1996.

Growing concern about energy self-sufficiency and global warming from fossil fuels have recently boosted interest in nuclear power, and the Nuclear Energy Institute trade group said in December that 18 new plants were in the works in the US.

Japan has more than 50 nuclear reactors, generating one third of the country's power, according to the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan. It ranks third worldwide in installed nuclear capacity behind the US and France.

Bodman and Amari also discussed clean-coal initiatives and joint efforts in China and India to promote alternative energy sources and energy conservation.