The Port of Mutsu-ogawara together with the Port of Aomori and the Port of Hachinohe are designated ports operating domestic routes with the Port of Yokohama and domestic roll-on/roll-off cargo trade routes with Japan’s major cities. They also operate container routes with Southeast Asia, Korea, and North America.
The Port of Mutsu-ogawara is home to the Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Center (JNFL) receives recycled nuclear waste from within Japan and other countries. This function has been of significant political and environmental controversy in Japan in general and to the Port of Mutsu-ogawara in particular. In 1998, the regional governor barred a British freighter carrying waste from France from entering the Port of Mutsu-ogawara.
In 1992, a transport rehearsal involved entry/exit from the port, loading and unloading, and land transport of the waste. The rehearsal vessel was met by several hundred protestors, but 1480 drums of low-level homogeneous solid wastes (LLW) from Japan’s Atomic Power Company were transported in 12 vehicles. Since that time, opposition has decreased gradually, and the operation has operated successfully. In 1995, 50 thousand drums were transported, and by 1997 that volume had doubled.
Beginning in October 2000, miscellaneous solid wastes filled with mortar-grouted metallic solid wastes have been added to the LLW previously transported. By the end of 2003, the transport volume reached almost 165 thousand drums.
The Port of Mutsu-ogawara has capacity to dock vessels of five thousand DWT and can unload components as much as one thousand tons in weight.