The removal of used nuclear fuel from the site of the Fugen prototype advanced converter reactor in central Japan will be postponed by nine years to fiscal 2026 as a reprocessing facility has yet to be determined, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) said on 26 February.
JAEA had originally aimed to complete transportation of the fuel from the reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, by March. It had been planned that the reprocessing facility in Tokaimura, Ibaraki Prefecture, would receive the fuel, but JAEA decided in 2014 to scrap the plant due to the difficulty of satisfying the more stringent post-Fukushima safety regulations. The agency had been looking to transport the fuel overseas for reprocessing, but discussions had not gone smoothly, the Mainichi reported, citing sources close to the matter.
The Fugen reactor is currently undergoing decommissioning after being shut down in March 2003 after plans to build a next-stage experimental reactor were abandoned on economic grounds. Operation of the reactor started in 1979. Of the 738 fuel assemblies stored at the site, 272 had been taken to the reprocessing facility in Tokaimura by 2007, but transportation was suspended pending the completion of work to boost the quake resistance of the reprocessing facility, which began in 2008. JAEA expects to ask the Nuclear Regulation Authority soon for approval to change in its decommissioning schedule to reflect the delay in removal of the used fuel. The agency will retain its plan to complete the decommissioning of the reactor in fiscal 2033.