Utilities that operate nuclear power plants stopped funding the reprocessing of nuclear fuel in fiscal 2016, their financial reports showed Sunday, a step that may affect resource-scarce Japan’s nuclear fuel recycling policy. The 10 utilities, including Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and Japan Atomic Power Co., apparently halted allocating reserve funds for reprocessing costs due to the huge expenses linked to building the reprocessing facilities, sources said. The government, along with the power companies, has been pushing for the reuse of mixed-oxide, or MOX, fuel, which is created from plutonium and uranium extracted from spent fuel. While Japan has not changed its policy on spent fuel reprocessing, the outlook for it has remained uncertain since the 2011 Fukushima disaster. At the same time, the government’s latest energy plan in July also stated for the first time that disposal of spent MOX fuel as waste can be considered. If MOX fuel cannot be reprocessed, nuclear fuel can only be reused once. For the reprocessing of spent MOX fuel, the utilities had allocated about ¥230 billion in reserves as of March 2016.
Japan Times 3rd Sept 2018 read more »