The Hottest Import To Hit Japan

Is plutonium the country's fuel -- or folly -- of the future?

PLUTONIUM IS SCARY STUFF: INHALING A SPECK OF it too small to see would mean certain death. So the 58-day voyage of the Akatsuki Maru, which exposed a 1.7- ton cargo of plutonium oxide to treacherous seas and possibly even to pirates lusting for nuclear booty, made plenty of people nervous. When the hot shipment finally completed its journey from Cherbourg, France, to Tokai, Japan, 140 km (90 miles) northeast of Tokyo, it was greeted by 1,000 protesters, some of whom had painted the universal radiation warning symbol on their faces. The crowd eventually dispersed and the cargo was nestled safely...

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