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» “Pluthermal” program will be postponed again

An electric power industry organization will postpone the wide-scale start of the “pluthermal” program, a pillar of the government’s nuclear fuel recycling project that has long been wracked by setbacks.

The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC) had planned to use the program, which reuses plutonium from spent fuel, at 16 to 18 nuclear reactors in Japan by fiscal 2015.

However, the completion of two key facilities in the recycling project has been delayed, and prospects for restarting idled nuclear reactors remain dim.

The FEPC will decide on a new deadline after viewing situation surrounding possible restarts of the reactors.

Under the pluthermal program, spent nuclear fuel is reprocessed to remove plutonium and uranium, which are then used to manufacture “mixed oxide” (MOX) fuel. The MOX fuel is then used at light-water reactors.

One goal of the pluthermal program is to help reduce Japan’s huge stockpile of plutonium.

However, the deadline for the completion of a domestic plant to manufacture MOX fuel was postponed to October 2017.

And on Oct. 30, Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. pushed back the completion date of its Rokkasho reprocessing plant in Aomori Prefecture to March 2016. The Rokkasho plant, which will reprocess spent fuel under the recycling program, must pass stricter safety inspections for construction work to continue.

It was the 21st postponement for completion of the Rokkasho facility.
<Media Report>
Industry group to postpone ‘pluthermal’ program again (Asahi Newspaper)

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