Today marks an important step for Japan’s energy independence and for the future of the nuclear industry. As World Nuclear News and others are reporting, Kyushu Electric Power Company restarted Unit 3 of the Genkai nuclear power plant using MOX (mixed oxide) fuel recycled at AREVA’s MELOX facility in Marcoule, France. Eventually, the Genkai plant plans to use MOX fuel at one-quarter of their 193 assemblies.
Because of Japan’s unique place on the world stage – a nation with a large energy appetite but relatively few natural resources – they’ve embarked on a plan to generate fully 40% of their energy from nuclear power and to start their own recycling operations on the islands, instead of sending their used nuclear fuel to France for recycling (as they’d done up until 1998, when they started collecting their own fuel). They’ve known for a long time that just storing away once-used
nuclear fuel and calling it “waste” – as we do here in the U.S. – doesn’t make sense. Not only does recycling get more energy out of the used nuclear fuel, it also reduces the volume of the most dangerous waste by over 60%.
We’re proud to be working with Japan in taking this first step toward a cleaner, carbon-free, independent energy future. Japan’s example makes it clear that a crucial stepping stone toward sustainability and energy independence – not only in Japan, but here in the U.S. and Canada as well – is expanding the use of nuclear power and putting in place a program to recycle used fuel.
Kyushu is one of the first of AREVA’s agreements to supply MOX fuel to Japan; the latest came in September with Chogoku.