Japan Atomic Power Co. is considering setting up a subsidiary specializing in the scrapping of retired nuclear reactors at domestic power plants, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.
Japan Atomic Power, a wholesaler of electricity generated at its nuclear plants, is planning to have U.S. nuclear waste firm EnergySolutions Inc. invest in the reactor decommissioning service unit, which would be the first of its kind in Japan, the sources said.
The Tokyo-based electricity wholesaler, whose shareholders are major domestic power companies, will make a final decision by the end of this year, they said.
The plan is to support power companies’ scrapping of retired reactors using Japan Atomic Power’s expertise in decontaminating and dismantling work, in which it has been engaged in since before the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 complex, according to the sources.
The plan comes as a series of nuclear reactor decommissioning is expected at power companies in the country. Since stringent safety rules were introduced after the Fukushima disaster, 11 reactors, excluding those at the two Fukushima plants of Tepco, are slated to be scrapped.
Nuclear reactors are allowed to run for 40 years in Japan. Their operation can be extended for 20 years, but operators will need costly safety enhancement measures to clear the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s screening.
Decommissioning a reactor with an output capacity of 1 million kilowatts is said to take about 30 years and cost around ¥50 billion. Typically, some 500,000 tons of waste result from scrapping such a reactor, and 2 percent of the waste is radioactive.
Japan Atomic Power first engaged in decommissioning a commercial reactor in 2001 at its Tokai plant in eastern Japan. It has been conducting decommissioning work at its Tsuruga nuclear power plant in western Japan since 2017.
It is also providing support to Tepco for the decommissioning of reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
EnergySolutions, founded in 2006, has engaged in scrapping five reactors in the United States.
Japan Atomic Energy and EnergySolutions have had previous business ties, and the Japanese company has sent some employees to the Zion nuclear station in Illinois, where the U.S. partner has been conducting decommissioning work since 2010.