OKs plan to store used nuke fuel
The Asahi Shimbun, 12 June 2003
Original address: http://www.asahi.com/english/politics/K2003061200512.html
MUTSU, Aomori Prefecture - A special committee of
the city assembly here has given the go-ahead for the construction of
a Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) storage facility for spent nuclear
The decision paves the way for the mayor to announce
the city's acceptance of the plan, probably early next week.
The special investigative committee, in a report
released Tuesday, said it was viable for Mutsu to host the nation's
first facility for temporarily storing spent fuel rods.
Mayor Masashi Sugiyama could now formally announce
the city's acceptance of TEPCO's plan to build the facility at the next
city assembly meeting, which is slated for June 17.
The committee's endorsement of the plan is a boon
for TEPCO, which hopes to have the facility up and running by 2010.
The facility would be used to store spent fuel rods
before they are transferred to a reprocessing facility.
A nuclear fuel reprocessing facility with a capacity
to reprocess about 800 tons of spent fuel annually is under construction
in Rokkasho, south of Mutsu. The facility is scheduled to begin operations
in July 2005.
But according to government and TEPCO officials,
between 900 and 1,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel rods are produced annually.
As a result, an intermediate storage facility would
be needed from 2010 to store rods awaiting reprocessing.
TEPCO officials have suggested to Mutsu city officials
that the storage facility would have a capacity of between 5,000 and
6,000 tons-the equivalent of 20 years' worth of spent nuclear fuel rods
produced by TEPCO and Japan Atomic Power Co.
The facility would be able to store the spent fuel
for up to 50 years.
In November 2000, Sugiyama asked TEPCO officials
to study the feasibility of building the storage facility in Mutsu.
As a result of a study conducted from 2001 near
the harbor of the former nuclear-powered vessel Mutsu, TEPCO released
a report in April saying there were no obstacles to bringing the facility
to the site.
The Aomori governor must approve the construction
plan before work on the facility can begin. The governor's decision
is expected to be made after about one year of study.
TEPCO must also conduct its own detailed study and
apply with the central government for approval to operate the facility.
Final approval will be given after a secondary inspection
is conducted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Atomic
Energy Commission and the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan.