Just ten days before the 73rd commemoration of the day the United States deliberately dropped an atomic bomb containing around 6 kilogrammes of the nuclear explosive plutonium on the southern Japanese city of Nagasaki (on 9 August 1945), killing at least 65,000 instantly, the current Japanese Government’s Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) made an important announcement (on 31 July) on ‘The Basic Principles on Japan’s Utilization of Plutonium.’ The biggest single overseas managed consignment, 22,200 kilogrammes, held at Sellafield in the UK. It adds the detail:” “Approximately, 0.6 ton (600 kgs )of plutonium from the remaining spent fuel contracted out to the UK is expected to be added to the stockpile around by 2019, when the reprocessing facility in the UK (THORP, at Sellafield) is scheduled to be closed.” The JAEC statement says “Japan will reduce the size of its plutonium stockpile. …and will “work on reducing Japan’s plutonium stockpile stored overseas through measures including promoting collaboration and cooperation among the operators.” Kuperman proposed five point plan to deal with Japan’s plutonium stockpile. His third point reads as follows: “Nearly half of Japan’s stockpile, 22 tons, is in Britain, which has offered to take ownership for a price, as it did for Germany, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands. Overnight, Japan could cut its stockpile by 46 percent. Japanese utilities (and their customers) would also save money by avoiding the expense of storing plutonium abroad and then fabricating it into MOX, which costs eight times more than traditional uranium fuel.” He concludes: “By transferring the British plutonium, and disposing of unusable domestic stocks, Japan would be left with a more manageable quantity of 15 tons in France and two in Japan, which could be dispositioned faster using both MOX and disposal as waste. Japan could thus eliminate its plutonium stockpile in perhaps five years, if it also terminated the overpriced, dangerous, and incomplete domestic facilities for reprocessing and MOX fabrication. Japan could switch to disposing its spent fuel as waste, exactly as all other countries (except France) that previously used MOX in multiple thermal reactors already have done.
David Lowry’s Blog 3rd Aug 2018 read more »