Rokkasho Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing

The Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited is currently constructing a nuclear fuel reprocessing plantin Rokkasho Village, Aomori Prefecture. The construction cost is over 3 trillion yen and the total project cost is about 13 trillion yen (as of 2018). The completion of the construction has been postponed 25 times (as of July 2021) due to a series of troubles.

At the reprocessing plant, spent nuclear fuels from nuclear power plants are cut, and dissolved in nitric acid to extract uranium and plutonium. The high-level liquid waste will be mixed with glass and solidified. This vitrified material is the so-called “nuclear waste,” which emits enough radiation to kill a person in 20 seconds if the person gets close to it. This nuclear waste is supposed to be buried 300 meters underground, but the location has not yet been decided.

If the reprocessing plant is operated, it will not only release various radioactive materials into the sea and air, but will also produce plutonium. Any further increase in Japan’s plutonium stockpile will raise international concerns.