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8 Interim Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel in Japan Kinichiro Kusunose Geological Survey of Japan National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology INTRODUCTION About one-third of Japan’s electricity is supplied by nuclear power plants. As of January 2005, the total number and capacity of nuclear power plants were 53 and 47 GWe, respectively. Since the first commercial operation of a nuclear power plant in 1966, about 17,000 metric tons of uranium (MTU) of spent fuel has been produced, including fuel in the reactors, and 10,000 MTU of this fuel is stored in nuclear power plants. Based on Japanese policy, the spent nuclear fuel is reprocessed and pluto- nium and recovered uranium are recycled. From 1973 to 1998, 5,610 MTU of spent fuel was reprocessed in plants in France and the United Kingdom. The Tokai Reprocessing Plant began operation in 1997, and 1,029 MTU of spent nuclear fuel was reprocessed by February 2004. Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited is constructing a commercial reprocessing plant at Rokkasho-mura, which will begin operation in 2008 and reprocess 800 MTU annually. It is planned that the 8 reprocessed spent nuclear fuel will be stored at a vitrified waste storage center in the plant until the final disposal site is constructed. . Annual production of spent nuclear fuel from all nuclear power plants in Japan was 900 MTU in 2003 and will increase to 1,100 MTU by 2010. The estimated total production of spent fuel from 1997 to 2010 is 14,000 MTU. Of the 14,000 MTU, 6,700 MTU will be shipped to the Rokkasho-mura reprocess- ing plant and 70 MTU has already been shipped overseas for reprocessing. The amount of spent nuclear fuel from power plants exceeds the current reprocessing capacity plant at Rokkasho-mura, which can reprocess about 800 MTU per year. Of the excess spent fuel, 2,900 MTU will be stored at nuclear power plants. 70

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7 SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL IN JAPAN Consequently, 4,400 MTU of spent nuclear fuel must be stored outside the power plants. For this spent fuel, an interim storage facility should be prepared. Based on the estimation by the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI), the re- quired capacity of the facility is 4,400 MTU by 2010 and 7,100 MTU by 2020. MEASURES FOR SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL INTERIM STORAGE The policy for the interim storage of spent fuel was discussed by the METI council. The council advised in 1998 that the interim storage facility should be prepared before 2010 within Japanese territory. Based on this advice, METI . issued a technical report for safety assessment of the temporary storage site in 2000. Guidelines for safety assessment of the temporary storage site using metallic casks were issued by the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan in 2002. Based on the guidelines, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency will act as a regulator. Tokyo Electric Power Company searched all over Japan for an appropriate site. The local government of Mutsu City in Aomori Prefecture showed a keen he interest in the matter and in 2000 asked Tokyo Electric Company to evaluate the possibility of constructing interim storage at Sekinehama, once the home of the nuclear-powered ship Mutsu. The company issued a technical assessment report -powered powered in 2003. Based on the report, local governments are examining the plan for ap- proval. According to the Tokyo Electric Company’s plan, the facility will begin operation before 2010, and the spent fuel will be stored for 50 years in metallic casks kept in a building. During the first stage of construction, a facility with 3,000 MTU storage capacity will be built, and after its completion another facility will be built. The total storage capacity planned by the Tokyo Electric Company is 5,000 to 6,000 MTU. Fifty years after the completion of these facilities, all , remaining stored fuel will be removed from them based on an agreement with the local government. . The amount of spent nuclear fuel from power plants exceeds the capacity of the reprocessing plant at Rokkasho-mura, which can reprocess about 800 MTU per year. The spent fuel in the temporary storage facility will fill rapidly even though the reprocessing plant is operating at full capacity. Capacity calculations should be made around 2010. Our government policy is that all nuclear waste should be disposed of within Japanese territory. Current circumstances do not provide for a change in policy in . the near future, but Japanese experts are carefully studying the information and , international discussions about multinational storage.