News Watch 105 (March/April 2005) Nuke Info Tokyo No. 105

Proposal to export total package: power generation and reprocessing

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. bids for nuclear plants in China

Preparations Begin for Monju Reconstruction

Proposal to export total package: power generation and reprocessingKaoru Samejima, Executive Vice-President of the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry, recently proposed exporting a total package of nuclear power plants and reprocessing services. The proposal was made to the Panel on an International Vision for Nuclear Power (News Watch, NIT 104), which is made up of representatives from the nuclear power industry and related ministries.The proposal envisions that three Light Water Reactors of about 500 MW would be built every five years. After 40 years, when the first reactors stop operating, they would be replaced by fast reactors of the same capacity, and so on as the reactors reach the end of their operating lives. Meanwhile, uranium, plutonium and minor actinides would be extracted from the spent fuel produced in the LWRs. They would be extracted in a mixed form using non-aqueous reprocessing and be made into metallic fuel for fast reactors.The content of the proposal is fanciful, but it reflects the ineluctable reality that reactors on their own are a hard sell.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. bids for nuclear plants in ChinaInternational bidding for China’s Yangjian and Sanmen nuclear power plants (2 x 1,000 MW each) closed on February 28. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) teamed with Westinghouse of the U.S. to make a bid. They hope to win an order for all four reactors. Westinghouse-MHI offered the AP1000 (Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor), while their rival, FRAMATOME, offered its EPWR (European Pressurized Water Reactor). It is believed that the reactor chosen by the Chinese Government this time will be adopted as the future standard type. On behalf of the Japanese government, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry sent a letter to two Chinese Vice-Premiers recommending the Westinghouse-MHI consortium. This is the first time such an action has been taken by the Japanese government. China plans to start construction in about 2007.

Preparations Begin for Monju ReconstructionPreparations for modifications to Monju (Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture), the 280 MW Fast Breeder Prototype Reactor, whose operation has been halted for over nine years since the sodium leak accident of December of 1995, began from March 1st and are aimed at the restarting of operation. The preparatory phase will include the bringing in of building materials, removal of lighting, and the installment of a temporary power supply. The main work is planned from this September through February of 2007, and will include removal and replacement of the temperature gauge that was the cause of the accident, and enlargement of the caliber of discharge piping for any future sodium leaks. According to Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute (JNC), plans are being laid for conducting various tests before resuming operations around February of 2008, and moving on to performance testing.Calls have erupted among Fukui Prefecture residents concerning these developments, demanding that modifications must await the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the High Court ruling that the approval to build the reactor was invalid. Oral arguments were heard at the Supreme Court on March 17th, and a ruling could be made in a couple of months time.

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