firms flip-flop on nuclear fuel reprocessing
The Japan Times, 16 October 2000
a major policy reversal, 10 Japanese electric power companies have decided
to have a French firm reprocess depleted nuclear fuel equivalent to
600 tons of uranium, according to industry sources. Previously, it was
agreed that all of Japan's spent nuclear fuel would be processed at
a controversial plant under construction in the village of Rokkasho,
in a move likely to draw criticism, the companies, which together comprise
Japan's major electric power utilities, will negotiate a contract with
the French firm Cogema by next spring.
10 companies are: Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Kansai Electric Power
Co., Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Tohoku Electric Power Co., Chubu Electric
Power Co., Hokuriku Electric Power Co., Chugoku Electric Power Co.,
Shikoku Electric Power Co., Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Japan Atomic
Power Co., a nuclear power venture mainly owned by the utilities.
companies decided to outsource some of their reprocessing needs to France
because the capacity of the Rokkasho plant is limited. If spent fuel
is left to accumulate at the plants, some of them might be forced to
shut down, they said.
are also hoping Rokkasho and Aomori Prefecture will let them store highly
radioactive waste there that is generated during the process.
sources said the Japanese firms plan begin shipping the spent fuel to
France in 2001. At the same time, they plan to send about 70 workers
to Cogema to learn the ins and outs of reprocessing before the Rokkasho
plants go online in 2005.
far, British and French companies have reprocessed 7,700 tons of spent
nuclear fuel on behalf of the Japanese electric power industry.
is estimated that the cost of building the Rokkasho plant will reach
2 trillion yen.