Promotion of MOX Fuel Use in Thermal Reactors
ON DECEMBER 19, 2003, the MOX Energy Promotion Council, comprised
of presidents from Japan 's electric power companies, reconfirmed
that it will continue to work toward the goal of using MOX fuel
in sixteen to eighteen nuclear power units by fiscal year 2010.
The Council also presented a summary report showing the individual
progress achieved thus far by each utility.
The utilization of MOX (mixed uranium-plutonium oxide) fuel,
which is recovered from spent fuel, fabricated and reused in thermal
nuclear reactors, will lead to the conservation of uranium resources.
Its use has been promoted in Japan as part of the country's basic
energy policy since the beginning of its nuclear energy development.
In 1997, in accordance with a decision by the Atomic Energy Commission
(AEC) of Japan and with Cabinet approval, the country's power
companies formulated a joint plan to use MOX fuel in a total of
sixteen to eighteen reactors by fiscal 2010.
Since then the power companies have made efforts to realize this
goal; however, because of MOX fuel data falsification by British
Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) in 1999, inappropriate behavior over
voluntary inspections of nuclear power plants that came to light
in 2002, and other related issues, implementation of MOX fuel
is behind schedule. Despite these difficulties, our resource-poor
country must continue to work to secure a steady and stable supply
of energy. For this objective to be achieved, it is vital that
we establish a domestic nuclear fuel cycle: the use of MOX fuel
as an integral part of this cycle remains as important as ever.
This same point was also made in a comprehensive report on the
nuclear fuel cycle prepared by the AEC in August 2003 entitled
"On the Nuclear Fuel Cycle." Moreover, the national
basic energy plan formulated in October 2003 also clearly states
that the use of MOX fuel in thermal reactors should be promoted
steadily as the central part of the domestic nuclear fuel cycle.
The vital importance of MOX fuel to Japan's energy future has
thus been clearly reaffirmed by the national government.
Under the current plan, five to eight tons of plutonium will
be consumed annually through the use of MOX fuel in sixteen to
eighteen power reactors nationwide. Meanwhile, when the Japan
Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL) reprocessing plant situated in Rokkasho
Village begins operation - scheduled for July 2006 - it should
be possible to recover about five tons of fissile plutonium annually.
We can therefore consume plutonium according to a fixed schedule,
while bringing to Japan regular shipments of plutonium recovered
in overseas reprocessing plants.
At present, power companies are doing their utmost to gain the
understanding of residents living near power plant sites in order
to implement the use of MOX fuel in thermal reactors. Companies
such as Shikoku Electric Power Co., Inc. and Japan Atomic Power
Co. have published detailed plans on how they intend to use MOX
fuel, in line with the summary released by all the power companies
in December 2003. As detailed in the same report, Kansai Electric
Power Co., Inc.(KEPCO) is moving towards concluding a new overseas
MOX fuel fabrication contract in order to get its MOX plans back
|KEPCO's Takahama PS
We, the electric power companies, will continue to work toward
concrete results; the entire industry is making concerted efforts
to realize the use of MOX fuel in thermal reactors as soon as