Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. on Tuesday filed for regulatory safety screening of its spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant.
The company aims to complete the plant in the village of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, in October, expecting that tests by the Nuclear Regulation Authority will be concluded in about six months.
The company is determined to do whatever it can to ensure the screening goes smoothly, Senior Executive Vice President Kazuhiro Matsumura said.
The NRA last month drew up new safety standards for key facilities used in the country’s nuclear fuel cycle, such as fuel reprocessing plants.
Under the new rules, operators of these facilities must take steps to ensure they can deal with severe accidents caused by earthquakes, tsunami and terrorist attacks.
The plant, a core component of the country’s nuclear fuel cycle, extracts uranium and plutonium from spent fuel generated from nuclear power stations. Its maximum annual capacity stands at 800 tons of uranium equivalents.
High-level radioactive liquid waste arising from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel will be solidified by mixing it with glass. The firm plans to hold the solidified radioactive waste for a limited period, but no clear plan has been set for a final disposal site for the waste.
The ¥2.2 trillion plant has seen its scheduled completion date moved back as many as 20 times due to a series of problems. Initially, the plant was slated to be completed in 1997, four years after the start of construction.
It is uncertain whether the NRA can complete its safety screening of the plant in six months as expected.
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