The Atomic Energy Commission on Tuesday approved safety evaluations for Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s project for pluthermal nuclear power generation designed to work off a growing stockpile of spent nuclear fuel.

The approval will allow the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which conducted the evaluations, to issue a permit for the utility to promote the project. Pluthermal, or plutonium-thermal power generation, burns plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel, made from spent fuel at nuclear reactors.

Kyushu Electric is hoping to get consent from local residents before it starts the power generation possibly in fiscal 2010 at the No. 3 reactor of its Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga.

Though it was not the first to apply for the project, Kyushu Electric now stands to be the first utility to introduce it.

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