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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 July 29 - August 4  > Antinuke citizens protest against NRA giving OK to operation of spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant
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2020 July 29 - August 4 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Antinuke citizens protest against NRA giving OK to operation of spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant

July 30 and August 1, 2020
The Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes (MCAN) on July 31 in front of the Prime Minister’s Office building staged a protest against the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s decision to allow the operation of a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant at Rokkasho Village in Aomori Prefecture.

With concern over the coronavirus pandemic, only MCAN staff took part in the action, which was broadcast live on the Internet.

The NRA’s decision was made two days earlier. The spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant under construction is a key component in the government-driven nuclear fuel cycle project. However, many people think that as shown by a decision to decommission the fast-breeder reactor “Monju”, the collapse of the project is obvious and that there is no need to operate the Rokkasho reprocessing plant.

The reprocessing plant in Rokkasho Village will be capable of separating up to eight tons of plutonium a year. In order to consume this amount of plutonium, it is necessary to carry out pluthermal power generation at 16-18 nuclear reactors. However, this power generation method is now used in only four reactors such as the No.3 reactor in the Kyushu Electric Power Company’s Genkai Nuclear Power Plant.

In addition, the operation of the Rokkasho plant involves heightened accident risks. This is indicated by the fact that accidents repeatedly occurred at reprocessing plants abroad. On top of this, there is concern about the technical capability of the Rokkasho plant operator, Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., when considering that many problems were exposed during test operations of the plant starting in 2006 and knowing its poor maintenance of equipment.

To promote the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel amid the paralyzed nuclear fuel cycle project will create another problem. As plutonium can be used to produce atomic bombs, Japan has explained to concerned parties at home and abroad that it will not possess plutonium unnecessarily. Japan’s domestic and overseas storage of plutonium is around 46 tons, which is equivalent to nearly 6,000 atomic bombs. To further increase the plutonium stockpile will fuel concern among the international community.

Past related articles:
> Shii criticizes nuclear authority for giving green light to resume operation of nuclear fuel reprocessing plant [May 14, 2020]
> Japan must abandon nuclear fuel cycle project [August 23, 2018]
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