Rokkasho (Japan)

Reprocessing facility and storage

Facilities in Rokkasho

plantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down
Rokkasho Enrichmentenrichment plant
Rokkasho HLW storageHLW storage
Rokkasho LLW repositoryLLW repository
Rokkasho reprocessing plantreprocessing plant

During active tests, while spent fuel was being sheared, the basket in the end-piece cleaning tank stopped operating. On Oct. 5 it was confirmed that the basket was deformed and that the end-piece had fallen to the bottom. Cause. The sensor that detects whether the endpeace has been transferred to the next process was not adjustable.


Leak detected at fuel assembly transfer pit.


"Homogenizing operation automatically stopped due to anti-overheat interlock system triggered by uranium hexafluoride cylinder temparature increased at RE-1 line homogeneous vessel in Rokkasho uranium enrichment plant."


"Leaks and cracks found at spent fuel storage pool welds of Rokkasho reprocessing plant."


"Mistake found at connection of piping in ventilation system of R. reprocessing plant."


Water is leaking from a pool. The storage pool stores spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants nation-wide until the fuel can be reprocessed. It contains some 165 tons of nuclear waste. About 1 litre of water is flowing to the detector every hour, and some 4,750 litres have accumulated since the water began leaking in July last year. The quantity is lager than what normally would be found due to condensation, therefore the company decided to investigate. The water includes radioactive materials, but will be reprocessed by a disposal facility for radioactive liquid waste.


Coolant leak from PWR spent fuel storage pool of Rokkasho reprocessing plant.


1.6 tons of coolant leak from pool coolant system heat exchanger outlet valve at spent fuel storage pool.


Japan has signed a new reprocessing contract with France. 600 t spent fuel shall be reprocessed by Cogema. The fuel is to bew sent in 4 seperate shipments starting from 2001. The contract includes payment for knowhow transfer and training of Japanese operators in France, because the technique used in Rokkasho is imported from France.
The reprocessing plant at Rokkasho is expected to start operation in 2005.
NPP in Japan have no interim storage place for all spent fuel, and it is planned to transport the waste from some plants (Fukushima, Tokai) to Rokkasho, which has a storage pool for 3000 t.


FEPCO announced a plan for the construction of a MOX fuel fabrication plant. This is a response to the pressure to to find ways to use the extracted plutonium. The construction will take at least 5 years, and will cost 120 billion yen.


The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Science and Technology Agency (STA), and the utilities recently launched a joint project to extend a construction program of central "intermediate" storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel.
At the end of 1997, a total of 124,940 tons HM of spent fuel has been discharged. Of this amount, 940 tons was sent to the Tokai Reprocessing Plant, and 5,600 tons to European reprocessors. The remaining 6,400 tons is being stored at on-site storage facilities.
Current operating NPPs, totalling 45GW, discharge about 900 tons HM of spent fuel annually. This amount will grow to 1,400 tons by 2010 and 1,900 tons by 2030.
At Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant, however, although its 3,000 ton spent fuel storage pool was completed in October 1996, it has not received any spent fuel yet because Aomori Governor Morio Kimura has not signed the safety agreement to be made between local governments and JNFL.
Rokkasho reprocessing plant is far behind schedule, it is widely believed that the official plan to begin operations in 2003 is most unlikely to be met. Even if the plant were to begin operating at full capacity, its 800 ton/y throughput cannot absorb all the annual spent fuel.
Consequently central intermediate storage facilities have to be constructed. The report suggests the need to construct two or more facilities in order to meet the total away from reactor (AFR), storage capacity of 6,000 tons by 2010 and 15,000 tons by 2020. The report recommends using methods such as water-cooled pool and dry cask.


In order to cope with the swollen construction costs of the Rokkasho reprocessing plant, 10 electric companies decided to pay in advance a total of 500 billion Yen towards the plant´s operation. In addition, the utilities have also provided a total of 100 billion Yen in untied aid towards construction of the plant.
The construction cost of the plant has increased from the original estimate of 840 billion to 1,88 trillion Yen.


The gleaming spent fuel pools at Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd.`s (JNFL) Rokkasho-mura reprocessing site stand ready to receive their first real assemblies, but around the pool building, the rest of the plant remains, almost literally, a hole in the ground. But despite doubts voiced by outsiders, JNFL continues to insist that the project will be ready to start on schedule in January 2003.
JNFL officials told of the site that lack of progress thus far in finishing the 800-metric ton heavy metal (MTHM)/year plant is mainly due to redesign to meet stricter seismic safety requirements imposed after the 1995 Kobe earthquake and tougher crash resistance provisions with an increase in the size of military aircraft stationed in the area. The review and redesign are slowing issuance of permits for stages of construction, they said.
Nearly five years after construction began on the northern tip of Japan's Honshu island, the main reprocessing facility is only 3% complete. The spent fuel pool there, however, is 98% finished, and a look inside revealed a near-twin of the spent fuel intake complex at Cogema´s UP-3 plant at La Hague.
The finished SFPs represented about 15% of the total work volume. The foundation for the rest of the facility has been excavated and concrete poured for base and retaining walls, and structural steel skeletons are beginning to rise from the giant hole in several spots. About 1.000 workers are busy on the site.
The plant has been officially delayed three years and its cost has more than doubled. It was originally to be completed by 2000 and cost some 840-billion yen. Redesigns to lower waste volumes, harsh winters that slowed building, and delays in government permits were blamed 17 months ago when the startup date was officially moved to January 2003 and the budget set at 1,6-trillion yen.


HLW Management Facility:
As a part of the Reprocessing Plant the HLW Management Facility, was built on the reprocessing site.
This facility was needed to store vitrified high level waste (VHLW) that was to be returned from overseas. The construction was completed just before the VHLW was transported to Aomori in the Spring of 1995.
This facility is able to hold 1.140 glass logs of VHLW. STA has announced that about 7.100 tons of spent fuel would be reprocessed abroad and that as many as 3.500 or so glass logs of VHLW would be transported back to Japan. So it is likely that this facility will be expanded in the future. At the facility the glass logs are stored vertically, nine to a cylinder and are cooled by the natural circulation of air around them.
VHLW is supposed to be stored in this facility for approximately 30 to 50 years and yet the safety of the waste for that time clearly cannot be guaranteed.
According to information obtained by CNIC, 100 to 300 logs will be transported every year, in two shipments per year, from now on.


As for the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant, an application for a construction permit for a throughput of 800 ton HM was submitted in March 1989 the permit was issued in December 1992 and construction started in April 1993. 15% of the plant has been built so far, but the construction plan was changed: the number of lines for plutonium and uranium purification is reduced from two to one and the number of HLW and LLW tanks will be reduced. The completion of the plant and the start of operations are officially planned for 2003, but it is likely that it will be delayed substantially.
The main part of the plant has hardly been started, but the spent fuel storage pool with the capacity of 3.000 ton HM is finished. The spent fuel to be reprocessed abroad has almost all been shipped, so the utility companies plan to have transported about 2.000 ton HM of spent fuel there by the time the construction is completed.


Some centrifuge units stopped due to human error during Enrichment Plant power source inspection.


JNFl indefinitely postponed its inspection report on the 28 canisters of HLW returned from France becuase it suspected that there could be a leak and started to proof the sealing. Contamination turned out to be Cs-137 and is probably from loading the borosilicate glass blocks into their stainless steel shipping containers at La Hague.


Siemens & Framatome completed replacement of the 3 SG in 65 days.
SG replacement required to cut an opening in the prestressed containment building. The old SGs are stored on site. Tthe new SGs are capable of operating at 112% power, but the turbines allow only for 108%. But there is no power uprating planned. Costs about 120 million US$.
Unit reconnected to the grid on August 28.


JNFL plans to delay by 14 month cronstruction of its 9880 million US$ commercial spent fuel reprocessing plant.cost overruns are reported to have already boosted the real cost to 12000 millionUS$.

End of May the spent fuel pool was only 50% complete (20% behind the schedule).

The reprocessing plant the most controversial and expensive item in the massive nuclear complex in Rokkasho Village (Aomori Prefecture) is designed to reprocess 800 t uranium/year and can store 3000 t of spent fuel and initially 1440 vitrified HLW waste canisters.