Energy Sources

Rokkasho Nuclear Reprocessing Plant Faces Further Delays, Completion Date Uncertain

Main image to the post Rokkasho Nuclear Reprocessing Plant Faces Further Delays, Completion Date Uncertain

The construction of a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, has faced numerous delays, with the latest setback pushing back the completion date from June to an unspecified time in the first half of fiscal 2024. The plant, which is intended to extract plutonium and uranium from used nuclear fuel, has been under construction for 31 years and has faced repeated postponements.

The delays have been attributed to prolonged screenings by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which has identified flaws in the company's submitted documents, and mechanical problems, such as the breakdown of a system to cool high-level radioactive liquid waste. The cost of the project has also ballooned to 3.1 trillion yen ($20.57 billion), significantly higher than the initial estimate of 760 billion yen.

Despite the delays and the high cost, the government has maintained its support for the nuclear fuel cycle project, which aims to reduce Japan's dependence on fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions. However, many insiders within the nuclear industry doubt whether the reprocessing plant will ever be completed, and calls have grown to abandon the project altogether.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09