Questions emerge over need for Japanese nuclear reprocessing plant. On May 13, Japanese nuclear regulators announced that the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant had met new safety regulations, taking a crucial step toward becoming operational. The government has long touted the facility as crucial to the country’s nuclear energy policy, but construction has been plagued by difficulties since starting nearly three decades ago. And now, with low demand for the plutonium that the plant would extract, some are questioning the need for the project to be continued at all. Rokkasho would become Japan’s first commercial facility with the capability to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and extract reusable plutonium. The plutonium would then be mixed with uranium to produce what is known as mixed oxide, or MOX, fuel. This would be used to power nuclear plants across the country, helping Japan reduce its reliance on energy imports.The government also says the facility would help reduce spent fuel, which is taking up storage space at nuclear plants. If the fuel isn’t reprocessed, these plants may reach their storage limits and be forced to halt operations.
NHK 1st June 2020 read more »