Japan Nuclear Regulator Approves Tokai Decommissioning Plan

Prompted by the high cost of complying with new post-Fukushima Dai-ichi accident safety measures, the Japan Nuclear Regulation Authority on June 13 said it had approved of a decommissioning plan for the Tokai reprocessing plant in Ibaraki Prefecture. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) would have borne the cost of the safety upgrades, submitted plans for decommissioning in June 2017 after declaring the costs prohibitive in September 2014 after the new regulations went into effect in 2013.

nuclear waste The plan for decommissioning calls for a 50-60 year process with preparations to take an additional 10 years, Nuclear Engineering International (NEI) reported.

The upgrades required would have meant bracing the plant for potential threats from terrorism attacks, hydrogen explosions, fires and other contingencies, the World Nuclear Association said.

The plant has started operations in 1981 after a 10-year under construction. It ceased fuel reprocessing in 2006 and was used since then for vitrification processing, In its prime, it reprocessed about 1,052 tons of used fuel from Fugen ATR, 644 tons of boiling water reactor fuel and 376 ton of pressurized reactor fuel and nine ton from the Japan Power Demonstration Reactor, NEI said.

The decommission is expected to cost $9 billion.

Once underway, the plan calls for 310 containers of highly radioactive vitrified waste to be buried more than 300 meters underground, while less dangerous waste will be buried “several dozen meters” down, according to the WNA. A third level of waste, considered less hazardous, is permitted to be buried closer to the surface. 

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