Japanese Regulator Clears GNF-J Fuel Plant Restart

The Nuclear Regulation Authority in Japan has cleared a fuel processing plant in the Kanagawa Prefecture for a restart, marking the first such facility approved under new standards that came about in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear generating station disaster.

Global Nuclear FuelGlobal Nuclear Fuel-Japan applied for a restart permit in April 2014 after the NRA revised safety standards for processing plants and nuclear waste storage facilities in measures that were separate from post-Fukushima rules for power plants. According to the World Nuclear Association, new standards for power plants were established in July 2013, while new standards for fuel processing and waste storage facilities were made official in December of that year.

Standards for fuel processing plants and waste storage were made more stringent to suit heightened concerns in areas of natural and man-made accidents, including storms, tsunami events, hydrogen explosions, terrorism and to prevent accidental criticality.

A draft report on GNF-J's upgraded safety measures was finalized early in March.

GNF-J is a division of Global Nuclear Fuel, which is a joint venture involving GE Hitachi and Toshiba. The plant manufactures fuel for boiling water reactors. GNF-J in March said that “currently there are no BWRs in operation (in Japan) and only small amounts of fuel are being produced in order to maintain the technology.”

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