For half a century, Japan has stuck to a “nuclear fuel cycle” policy under which all spent nuclear fuel from the nation’s nuclear power plants was to be reprocessed and used again in nuclear reactors. However, no efforts have been made to bring the policy in line with reality. Having experienced the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, the government must now make bold policy changes.
The Japan Atomic Energy Commission last week compiled four options pertaining to the future of the nuclear fuel cycle to correspond with the future of nuclear power generation in Japan.
According to the various scenarios, if Japan were to get rid of all of its nuclear reactors in 30 years, then all spent nuclear fuel should be disposed of directly. If nuclear power covered 15 percent of Japan’s power generation by that time, a “concurrent” approach of reprocessing some spent fuel and directly disposing of other spent fuel would be appropriate, and if the ratio of nuclear reactors stood at between 20 and 25 either a concurrent approach or full reprocessing of spent fuel would be appropriate. Under the zero nuclear plant scenario, operations of the fast breeder reactor Monju would also be halted.
Continue reading at Editorial: Japan must earnestly take up issue of spent nuclear fuel disposal