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20 April, 2017

Second Nuclear Fuel Facility Clears NRA’s Safety Examination

At its regular meeting on April 19, Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) approved a review report draft confirming that the uranium enrichment plant owned by Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL), in Rokkasho Village (Aomori Prefecture) is compatible with new regulatory standards.

JNFL's Uranium Enrichment Plant in 1996

This means that the plant has essentially passed the examination—the second nuclear fuel facility to do so 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 draft report will be made official after receiving input from the head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

The enrichment plant began operation back in 1992. In December 2013, the new regulatory standards came into effect. In the following month—January 2014—JNFL filed an application for the examination.

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, 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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