The Japanese government has pushed for the reuse of mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel in the country’s nuclear reactors, but utilities that finance the reprocessing have not funded those operations since fiscal year 2016, according to financial reports released by the power companies on September 2. Japan’s KYODO News reported that sources said 10 utilities, including Tokyo Electric Power Company and Japan Atomic Power Co., stopped setting aside funds for reprocessing costs because of what Kyodo said were “huge expenses” to build reprocessing facilities. Japan’s government updated the country’s Basic Energy Plan earlier this year after its first review in four years. The new plan includes a pledge to reduce the country’s stockpile of plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel, which reportedly came after the U.S. expressed concern about Japan’s stockpile. Japan is the only country without nuclear weapons with the authority to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. The energy plan outlined in July for the first time also allowed utilities to consider spent MOX fuel as nuclear waste, which has brought debate about how to deal with it.
Japan Program for Reuse of Nuclear MOX Fuel in Doubt