Japan to cap plutonium stockpile to allay U.S. concerns. Japan plans to boost measures to curb surplus plutonium extracted from the reprocessing of spent fuel at nuclear power plants, including capping the country’s stockpile of the highly toxic material. The move followed the U.S. and other countries’ calls for Japan to reduce excess plutonium in light of nuclear nonproliferation and the threat of terrorist attacks involving nuclear materials. The Cabinet Office’s Japan Atomic Energy Commission will incorporate the measures in the five-point basic nuclear policy expected at the end of this month, the first revision in 15 years. A reduction in the volume of plutonium held by Japan will also be specified in the government’s basic energy plan, which will be revised next month. Japan possesses about 10 tons of plutonium inside the country and about 37 tons in Britain and France, the two countries contracted to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. The total amount is equivalent to 6,000 of the atomic bomb that devastated Nagasaki in 1945.
Asahi Shimbun 17th June 2018 read more »
There is a nuclear fuel cycle center in Rokkasho village, located at the tip of Shimokita Peninsula in Aomori Prefecture, in the northernmost part of the main island of Japan. On April 9, 1985, the governor of Aomori Prefecture gave the green light for the Rokkasho center to proceed. At first, it comprised three facilities: •a uranium enrichment plant •a fuel reprocessing plant •a low-level radioactive waste repository Later, two more facilities were added: •a temporary storage facility of high-level radioactive waste returned from overseas after reprocessing, •a MOX fabrication plant. The nuclear fuel cycle center of Rokkasho village is operated by Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited (JNFL), notorious for its incompetent management. In October 2017, the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Autority (NRA) reported that JNFL violated safety measures. As the Mainichi Shimbun reported in an October 11, 2017 article, safety records were faked at the unfinished reprocessing plant.
Beyond Nuclear 17th June 2018 read more »
EDITORIAL: Japan should disconnect from fast-breeder reactor project. France has decided to sharply scale down its ASTRID fast-reactor project, which is supported by Japan. France’s decision underscores afresh the dismal outlook of Japan’s plan to continue the development of fast-reactor technology by relying on an overseas project. Now that it has become unclear whether participation in the ASTRID project will pay off in future benefits that justify the huge investment required, Japan should pull out of the French undertaking. Fast reactors are a special type of nuclear reactors that burn plutonium as fuel. The ASTRID is a demonstration reactor, the stage in reactor technology development just before practical use. The French government has said the Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration, if it comes on stream, will generate 100 to 200 megawatts of electricity instead of 600 megawatts as originally planned. Paris will decide in 2024 whether the reactor will actually be built. Japan has been seeking to establish a nuclear fuel recycling system, in which spent nuclear fuel from reactors will be reprocessed to extract plutonium, which will then be burned mainly in fast reactors. When the Japanese government in 2016 pulled the plug on the troubled Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor, which was at the technology stage prior to that of a demonstration reactor, it decided to make the joint development of the ASTRID the centerpiece of its plan to continue the nuclear fuel recycling program. The government will provide some 5 billion yen ($45.2 million) annually for the French project through the next fiscal year, which starts in April, and decide, by the end of this year, whether and how it will be involved in the project after that.
Asahi Shimbun 18th June 2018 read more »
JAPAN’S city of Osaka was struck by a massive earthquake this morning, leaving three dead and injuring hundreds. After the Fukushima disaster a decade ago, concerns have turned to the country’s nuclear plants. Are they at risk?
Express 18th June 2018 read more »
Japan’s nuclear regulator says no problems have been found with the nuclear reactors in Fukui Prefecture, located to the north of the epicenter of Monday’s earthquake in Osaka. The Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority says a reactor at the Takahama nuclear power plant and 2 others at the Ohi plant continue to operate. It also says it has found no problems with 5 other offline reactors in Fukui.
NHK 18th June 2018 read more »