Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant

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Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant

The Rokkasho Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facility (六ヶ所村核燃料再処理施設 Rokkasho Kakunenryō Saishori Shisetsu?) is a nuclear reprocessing plant with an annual capacity of 800 tons of uranium or 8 tons of plutonium.[1] It is owned by Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited (JNFL), and is the successor to a smaller reprocessing plant located in Tōkai, Ibaraki in central Japan which ceased operation in 2007.

The reprocessing plant is part of the Rokkasho complex located in the village of Rokkasho in northeast Aomori Prefecture, on the Pacific coast of the northernmost part of Japan's main island of Honshu, which also includes:

In 2010, the Rokkasho complex consisted of 38 buildings on an area of 3,800,000 m². [1]

Since 1993 there has been US$ 20 billion invested in the project, nearly triple the original cost estimate.[2] Construction and testing of the facility is complete, and it has been intended to begin operating in October 2013; however this was delayed by new safety regulations.[3] In December 2013 JNFL announced the plant would be ready for operation in October 2014.[4]

Protests[edit]

In May 2006, an international awareness campaign about the dangers of the Rokkasho reprocessing plant, Stop Rokkasho,[5] was launched by musician Ryuichi Sakamoto. Greenpeace has opposed the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant under a campaign called "Wings of Peace – No more Hiroshima Nagasaki",[6] since 2002 and has launched a cyberaction[7] to stop the project. Consumers Union of Japan together with 596 organisations and groups participated in a parade on 27 January 2008 in central Tokyo against the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant.[8] Over 810,000 signatures were collected and handed in to the government on 28 January 2008. Representatives of the protesters, which include fishery associations, consumer cooperatives and surfer groups, handed the petition to the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Seven consumer organisations have joined in this effort: Consumers Union of Japan, Seikatsu Club Consumer's Co-operative Union, Daichi-o-Mamoru Kai, Green Consumer's Co-operative Union, Consumer's Co-operative Union "Kirari", Consumer's Co-operative Miyagi and Pal-system Co-operative Union.

Vitrification tests completed in November 2007. This consists of pouring high level dry waste reside along with molten glass into steel canisters.[9]

In June 2008, several scientists stated that the Rokkasho plant is sited directly above an active geological fault line that could produce a magnitude 8 earthquake. But Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited have stated that there was no reason to fear an earthquake of more than magnitude 6.5 at the site, and that the plant could withstand a 6.9 quake.[10][11]

2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami[edit]

After the Tōhoku earthquake in March 2011, the plant ran on emergency power provided by backup diesel generators.[12] The emergency generators were not intended for long-term use.[13] Reportedly there are about 3,000 tons of highly radioactive used nuclear fuel stored in Rokkasho at current, that could overheat and catch fire if the cooling systems fail. Japanese radio reported on 13 March that 600 liters of water leaked at the Rokkasho spent fuel pool.[14] According to The New York Times, grid power was restored on 14 March 2011.[15]

The 7 April aftershock caused the loss of grid power again until the next day.[16][17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Heinonen, Olli J. (June 2010). "Safeguards in action: IAEA at Rokkasho, Japan". Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  2. ^ The Failures of Japan's Nuclear Fuel Cycle Program - 1956–2007
  3. ^ Japan's Nuclear Plan Unsettles U.S.
  4. ^ "Work on Rokkasho fuel reprocessing plant to be 'completed' by October". The Japan Times. 20 December 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Stop Rokkasho
  6. ^ Wings of Peace – No more Hiroshima Nagasaki
  7. ^ http://www.greenpeace.or.jp/cyberaction/npt/index_en_html
  8. ^ Rokkasho: Nobody talks, Nothing changes « Consumers Union of Japan
  9. ^ World Nuclear News (WNN). Vitrification line tested for Japanese waste
  10. ^ Japanese nuclear plant in quake risk Nature.com, 2008
  11. ^ Japan's nuclear facilities face quake risk
  12. ^ Biello, David (11 March 2011). "How to Cool a Nuclear Reactor". Scientific American online. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  13. ^ Schneider, Mycle (11 March 2011). "Nuklearanlagen droht nach Erdbeben Überhitzung (German language)". Focus online. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  14. ^ Smith, Aileen (13 March 2011). "Breaking News—Japan Nuclear Power Plant Accidents and Earthquake". Green Action Blog. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  15. ^ BRADSHER, KEITH; TABUCHI, HIROKO (17 March 2011). "Greater Danger Lies in Spent Fuel Than in Reactors". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 19 March 2011. "Grid power was restored on Monday, the company said." 
  16. ^ Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log, IAEA, 7 April 2011
  17. ^ Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log, IAEA, 8 April 2011

Further reading[edit]

Coordinates: 40°57′45″N 141°19′35″E / 40.96250°N 141.32639°E / 40.96250; 141.32639