News Watch


Both Kanden and Tohoku Electric Power Co. to Build On-site Spent Fuel Dry Storage Facilities

Regarding plans to establish on-site dry storage facilities for spent fuel at the Mihama, Takahama and Ohi nuclear power plants (NPPs), Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kanden) submitted a “request for prior understanding” on February 8 to Fukui Prefecture, Mihama Town, Ohi Town and Takahama Town, based on their “Agreement regarding assuring safety of the environment in the vicinity of NPPs.” Kanden explained that rather than establishing interim storage facilities outside the prefecture by about 2030, as it had promised to Fukui Prefecture, it would establish on-site facilities at its NPPs in preparation for future shipping from them. Such facilities could store the spent fuel “in a highly safe manner, facilitating shipment to interim storage facilities, and furthermore not dependent on electric power during the period prior to their shipment.” On March 14, the mayors of the three towns all gave their prior consent, and Fukui Prefecture gave its consent on March 15. On the same day, Kanden applied to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) for approval of the implementation plan for the Takahama NPP.

Specifically, two facilities are to be built at the Takahama NPP and one each at the Mihama and Ohi NPPs. They will not be buildings, but reinforced concrete panels, holding one cask each. The casks, used for both transportation and storage, have a design storage life of 60 years, far beyond 2030. They are placed sideways onto a stand but not fastened to the foundation in any way. The Mihama NPP is expected to house a maximum of 10 casks, the Ohi NPP, a maximum of 23 and the Takahama NPP, 22 casks in the first term and another 10 in the second term, for a total of 32 casks. Each cask at the Mihama NPP will hold 21 spent fuel assemblies, and those at the Takahama and Ohi NPPs will have a capacity of 24 assemblies each. The first stage of construction at the Takahama NPP is planned to run from 2025 to 2027 or so, and the second stage, around 2025 to 2030. The construction periods at the Mihama and Ohi NPPs are planned to run about 2026 to 2030 and about 2025 to 2030, respectively. By the time the construction is completed and the casks are brought in, 2030 will be in the past.

Meanwhile, saying that the spent fuel pool at Onagawa Unit 2 will reach capacity four years after it is restarted, Tohoku Electric Power Co. submitted a request on February 27 to Miyagi Prefecture, Onagawa Town and Ishinomaki City for prior consent to install its own dry storage facilities. The very next day, without waiting for a response, they went ahead and applied to the NRA for permission to install the facilities.

In this instance, two buildings are to be constructed. The first building will hold up to eight casks, and the second, up to 12, with each cask holding 69 assemblies. They say construction is to begin on the first building in May 2026, which will become operational in March 2028; and on the second building in August 2030, with operations there commencing in June 2032.

Onagawa Town and Ishinomaki City have indicated they are considering taking this plan as an opportunity to levy a spent nuclear fuel tax on Tohoku Electric Power Co.


Plutonium Stored Overseas Exchanged between Electric Power Companies

An agreement was signed on February 15 between electric power companies to exchange plutonium held in the UK with plutonium held in France. Part of the plutonium recovered in France (1.7 tons of fissile plutonium in total, with 0.1t belonging to Tohoku Electric Power Co., 1.0t to Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), 0.4t to Chubu Electric Power Co., 0.0t to Hokuriku Electric Power Co. and 0.2t to Japan Atomic Power) is to be exchanged for part of that recovered in the UK (a total of 1.7 tons, with 0.7t belonging to Shikoku Electric Power Co. and 1.0t to Kyushu Electric Power Co.). Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Shikoku Electric Power Co. have plans for use of their spent fuel, having it undergo processing into MOX fuel in France, which has an operational MOX fuel plant. In addition, there had been plans to transfer 0.1 tons of plutonium from Kyushu Electric Power Co. to the Electric Power Development Co. (J-Power), but Kyushu Electric Power Co. will be using the plutonium itself, so it is having TEPCO and Chubu Electric Power agree instead to transfer the planned amount to J-Power.

The day after this agreement was concluded, on the 16th, the Federation of Electric Power Companies issued a new plan for the use of that plutonium. Even with the amount transferred overseas being processed, it is not providing enough plutonium to keep up with needs, so the amount of plutonium to be used in 2024 and 2025 will be zero.


MOX Fuel Production Commences for Use at Takahama Units 3 and 4

Kanden announced on March 1 that production of 32 MOX fuel assemblies in the fourth production lot for use at Takahama units 3 and 4 had commenced at Orano Recyclage’s Melox plant on February 29, France time.


First Overseas ‘Export’ of Large Metallic Waste Items

According to an item dated February 26 in The Denki Shimbun daily newspaper, six casks of spent nuclear fuel being stored at Fugen and the Tokai Reprocessing Plant were transported to Energy Solutions’ facilities in Memphis, Tennessee, USA in December 2023 for melting. Following preprocessing, to be completed by the end of July in preparation for melting, it is said that the spent fuel will be transferred to the Bear Creek Processing Facility near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where it will be melted, machined and recycled as shielding blocks for use in nuclear energy-related facilities.

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