More delays for Rokkasho mox plant

18 December 2020

Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited (JNFL), the operator of Japan's first commercial nuclear fuel plant, currently under construction in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, has postponed its completion by two years.

The J-MOX facility will produce for mixed oxide (mox) fuel commercial purposes using plutonium extracted from used nuclear fuel.

The plant, a key component of the government's policy to recycle nuclear fuel, passed safety screening earlier this month by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). JNFL had aimed to complete construction in the first half of fiscal 2022, but the company notified Aomori Prefecture that the schedule has been extended to the first half of fiscal 2024.

This is the seventh recent postponement of the facility's projected completion date.

Company president Masuda Naohiro said that more time is needed for additional fireproofing measures.

Another key facility for the nuclear fuel recycling policy, a reprocessing plant, also at Rokkasho, passed screening in July. Construction began in 1993 and was expected to be completed by 1997. The facility will have a capacity of 800 tonnes a year, according to JNFL.

Under the latest schedule, completion of the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant has been put back to the first-half of FY2022 (ending March 2023), to allow for implementation of safety measures at the plant, including construction of a new cooling tower.

JNFL said, 16 December, that a final operation plan of Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant (RRP) and MOX Fuel Fabrication Plant will be finalised in Nuclear Reprocessing Organization of Japan's future master plan which must receive an approval of Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.

According to provisional plans prepared by JNFL, plutonium recovery from the RRP in FY2023 is expected to reach 0.6t, resulting in possible MOX fuel fabrication capacity of 0.6t MOX in FY2025.

The planned operation dates prepared by JNFL are provisional. JNFL said there are two years between reprocessing and MOX fuel fabrication, for example, the figure for FY2025 is the amount of Pu recovered in FY2023. Figures may fluctuate depending on the type of reprocessed spent fuel and timing of reprocessing, etc.

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