A Japanese company yesterday launched construction of a $2.4 billion facility for producing nuclear power plant fuel from weapon-capable plutonium, Kyodo News reported (see GSN, Sept. 24).
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. is slated in March 2016 to wrap up construction of the Rokkasho plant, which would be capable of annually generating 130 tons of mixed-oxide nuclear fuel pellets. The facility would manufacture the pellets using MOX powder produced by reprocessing nuclear power plant waste at a nearby plant.
Three Japanese light-water reactors have already begun running on MOX fuel, but the material used at the sites has been manufactured in other countries. Japan's energy sector is expected by fiscal 2015 to start using the fuel in 16 to 18 power reactors, the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan said (Kyodo News/Japan Times, Oct. 29).