The Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPC) of Japan, which includes 11 operators comprising nine utilities along with Japan Atomic Power Company, and Electric Power Development Co (J-Power), said it was continuing to promote the use of mixed uranium-plutonium (mox) fuel in nuclear power plants, in line with the Pluthermal Programme formulated in June 2009.
A statement said that as circumstances changed in the wake of the Fukushima accident, FEPC continued “to work diligently” to promote mox fuel “as a critical task”.
Shikoku Electric Power’s Ikata 3, Kyushu Electric Power’s Genkai 3, and Kansai Electric Power’s Takahama 3&4 all began to use mox when they restarted. Furthermore, 2020 saw progress towards the completion of the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant (RRP) and the MOX Fuel Fabrication Plant (J-MOX), which received approvals by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, FEPC noted.
Based on the Japan Atomic Energy Commission “Basic Principles on Japan’s Utilisation of Plutonium” (2018) and respecting the principle of not possessing plutonium without specific purposes, “we will continue to do our utmost to manage the plutonium stockpile appropriately”, the statement said.
Given recent circumstances, and considering each utility’s mox requirement, FEPC decided on a new Pluthermal Programme “in order to manage plutonium stockpiles appropriately on the premise that each utility is responsible for using its own plutonium”. The programme includes the following:
- The basic policy is that all utilities will introduce as much pluthermal use as possible and will start operations as soon as possible.
- To this end, given the consent of the local community, all utilities will examine the possibility to introduce pluthermal use at as many operating reactors as possible as part of a mid-to-long term plan, and will do their utmost to ensure a balance between demand and supply of plutonium.
- Based on this premise, “we will aim to have at least 12 reactors running on pluthermal use by FY2030”.
- Furthermore, we will promote using plutonium and reduce the size of its stockpile at home and abroad through close collaboration and cooperation among utilities.
A Plutonium Utilisation Plan, based on a specific prediction of plutonium use, is under consideration as part of the Operation Plan for RRP and J-MOX. “We will release it as soon as it is ready.”
Photo: The Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant in Japan (Credit: JNFL)