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17 May, 2017

Second Nuclear Fuel Facility Clears NRA’s Safety Examination Officially

On May 17, Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) held a regular meeting and officially approved a review report confirming that the uranium enrichment plant owned by Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL), in Rokkasho Village, Aomori Prefecture, is compatible with the new regulatory standards.

JNFL's Uranium Enrichment Plant in 1996

This is the second nuclear fuel facility to be approved since the new standards took effect. The first was a fuel fabrication plant owned by Global Nuclear Fuel-Japan Co. (GNF-J), in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture.

The enrichment plant is the only facility in the country able to enrich uranium to a degree whereby it can be used for nuclear fuel. The plant began operation in 1992. In December 2013, the new regulatory standards came into effect. In January 2014, JNFL filed an application for an examination of the plant.

Under the terms for a grace period for existing facilities not having substantial exposure effects on residents of surrounding areas, the plant was allowed to continue in operation for five years after the new standards came into effect. As a result, a part of the plant has continued in operation since then.

Meanwhile, it was revealed last year that the department at JNFL responsible for quality assurance had reported internally that business reform had been completed, whereas in fact it had not been. The NRA thereupon examined anew the company’s internal control system, resulting in a delay in finalizing the review report. Major examinations have also been completed for JNFL’s spent fuel reprocessing plant and others, all of which are integral to national nuclear fuel cycle policy.

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