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Nuclear policy-setting body urges plant operators to prepare for decommissioning era via Japan Today

By Mari Yamaguchi

TOKYOJapan’s nuclear policy-setting body adopted a report Monday saying the country is entering an era of massive nuclear plant decommissioning, urging plant operators to plan ahead to lower safety risks and costs requiring decades and tens of billions of yen.

Twenty-four commercial reactors – or 40% of Japan’s total – are designated for or are being decommissioned. Among them are four reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant that were severely damaged by the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan.

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TEPCO said the decommissioning of Fukushima Daini alone would cost 410 billion yen ($3.9 billion) and would take four decades, but experts have raised concerns about whether those estimates are realistic for a company already struggling with the ongoing cleanup of the wrecked Fukushima plant, estimated to cost about 8 trillion yen ($75 billion).

Japan Atomic Power Co, which has been decommissioning its Tokai nuclear plant since 2001, announced in March that it was pushing back the planned completion of the project by five years, to 2030, because the company still has been unable to remove and store highly radioactive materials from the core. The decommissioning of the government’s Tokai fuel reprocessing facility is expected to take 70 years and cost 770 billion yen ($7.2 billion).

The white paper stated that Japan is pursuing its divisive spent-fuel reprocessing ambitions and a plan to develop a fast-breeder reactor despite international concerns over the country’s plutonium stockpile of 47 tons, though the commission calls for more efforts in reducing the stockpile and increasing transparency.

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