Japan’s interim used fuel storage facility under construction in Mutsu, Aomori prefecture is now expected to begin operating in fiscal year 2023 (ending March 2024), the Recyclable-Fuel Storage Company Ltd (RFS) said on 27 July. This is just the latest in a series of delays to the project.
Japanese utilities Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) and the Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC) launched RFS in 2005 to build Japan’s first spent fuel interim storage facility, with Tepco providing 80% of the capital and JAPC 20%. The centre would have an initial capacity of 3000 tonnes of used fuel and would eventually store some 4,000 tonnes of used fuel from Tepco’s NPPs and some 1,000 tonnes from JAPC’s plants. It was expected to begin operation in 2012.
In 2007, RFS applied to the Japanese government for a construction licence and in 2010, the joint venture announced that it had received approval from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry for the design and construction. Work on the initial storage building was eventually completed in 2013, shortly after which new safety standards for nuclear fuel cycle facilities were introduced in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. To meet the new regulations,
RFS was required to conduct further assessments for the facility's ability to withstand earthquakes, tsunami, volcanoes and tornadoes. The initial design and construction programme document was submitted to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in 2016 it received approval only in November 2020.
RFS has now announced that the construction of additional safety measures at the RFSC, previously planned to begin in 2019, will not start until 2021, pushing the start of operation to 2023, instead of 2021, as previously planned. The company plans to build two structures on the premises. The first with a capacity of 3,000 tons has been almost completed, but little work has been done on the second one with a capacity of 2,000 tons.