On February 28, the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC) released a new plan for the utilization of plutonium, encouraging power companies holding the material overseas to interchange it among themselves—i.e., those using mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel for power generation would interchange it with those that are not. That, the FEPC says, will result in an overall reduction in Japan’s plutonium holdings.
Specifically, power companies will interchange their plutonium in the UK and France, based on the fundamental assumption that each of the firms uses its own plutonium at its respective MOX-fueled reactors. The plutonium held in France will be processed into MOX fuel at a MOX fuel fabrication plant operating in France, and such fuel will be consumed in Japan in nuclear reactors that can burn it.
The Japanese reactors available to use MOX fuel are as follows:
・Takahama-3 and -4 (PWRs, 870 MW each), owned and operated by the Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kansai EP)
・Ikata-3 (PWR, 890 MW), owned and operated by the Shikoku Electric Power Co.
・Genkai-3 and -4 (PWRs, 1,180 MW each), owned and operated by the Kyushu Electric Power Co.
Currently, the levels of plutonium held by Shikoku Electric Power and Kyushu Electric Power in France are running low, while their holdings in the UK remain at approximately 2.5 tons. However, since the MOX fuel fabrication plant in UK has been closed, the fuel cannot be manufactured there. Accordingly, power companies that do not implement MOX-fueled generation in Japan will exchange 2.5 tons of their plutonium in France for the same volume of plutonium in the UK.
Last year, FEPC made clear that it would try to get power companies to interchange their plutonium stored overseas so as to more effectively promote its use.