National

J-Power to apply for screening of uncompleted MOX nuclear plant in Aomori

Kyodo

Electric Power Development Co. plans to apply by the end of the year for safety screening of the Oma nuclear power plant under construction in Aomori Prefecture, sources said Thursday.

The planned move by the electricity wholesaler known as J-Power would be the first such application for a reactor being built in the country.

Before it becomes operational, the one-reactor plant must pass Nuclear Regulation Authority screening based on a set of new safety requirements adopted following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.

A senior J-Power official plans to visit the municipal assembly in the town of Oma, where the plant is being built, and the prefectural government on Nov. 13 to report on the company’s plans, according to the sources.

The Oma plant, located on the northern tip of Honshu, would be the world’s first reactor to run solely on plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel.

It is expected to play a major part in Japan’s fuel recycling policy, as MOX fuel is produced from uranium and plutonium extracted by reprocessing used uranium fuel.

But amid concern over nuclear safety, the city of Hakodate in neighboring Hokkaido has filed a lawsuit against the state and J-Power to stop construction of the plant, which is located less than 30 km from the nearest point in the city across the Tsugaru Strait.

The plant’s construction began in 2008 but was suspended after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck the country’s northeast, where the coastal plant is being built. The construction resumed in October 2012.