Rokkasho nuke plant delayed two more years

AOMORI (Kyodo) The president of Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. on Friday notified authorities in Aomori Prefecture it plans to postpone by two years the completion of a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in the village of Rokkasho.

Yoshihiko Kawai presented Aomori Gov. Shingo Mimura with the new plan to complete the plant, designed to extract uranium and plutonium from spent nuclear fuel from domestic power plants, in October 2012 in a move that could significantly affect the national nuclear energy program.

“We continue to make safety, not scheduling, the priority,” Mimura said. “But the delay should not affect the nation’s nuclear fuel cycle policy and therefore we would like to make sure that the central government will not change its basic policy in this field.”

The postponement is the ninth and the longest since test operations began in March 2006 at the reprocessing plant. Japan Nuclear Fuel is planning to increase its capital by ¥400 billion, and will ask 10 of its stakeholder utility firms for financial assistance in connection with the latest delay.