PROJECT | Staff Reporter, Japan

Japan greenlights changes to MOX fuel fabrication plant

The application for the examination was filed in January 2014.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan (NRA) has approved changes to the Japan Nuclear Fuel's (JNFL) MOX fuel fabrication plant on 9 December, nearly seven years after the application for the examination has been filed.

According to a media release, “JNFL made the approval recognising that the facility, located in Rokkasho Village, Aomori Prefecture, was compatible with Japan’s new regulatory standards under the Law for the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors (the Reactor Regulation Law).”

On 7 October, the NRA issued a draft review report, referring the case to the head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as well as making it available for public commentary. A total of 545 comments, mostly citing nuclear fuel cycle policy and prospects for start of operation as well as particular MOX-fuel-use plans, were received.

“The MOX fuel fabrication plant will produce new fuel using plutonium recovered through the reprocessing of the spent fuel from the country’s nuclear power plants (NPPs),” commented Japan Atomic Industrial Forum president Shiro Arai. “Fuel produced at the facility is intended to be used at 16 to 18 nuclear reactors around the country, including four units that have been restarted since the nationwide shutdown.”

Meanwhile, NRA chairman Toyoshi Fuketa remarked that as “reprocessing and MOX fuel fabrication ought to be treated as ‘a set,’ and that safety and resistance to nuclear proliferation were ‘both enhanced,’” an early start for the MOX fuel fabrication plant was necessary.

The fabrication plant, along with the reprocessing plant, was expected to be completed between 1 April and 30 September 2022.

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