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Japan should learn from other countries when planning nuclear plant decommissioning: government report

JIJI

Japan should learn from overseas efforts in order to smoothly decommission nuclear reactors, a government report said Monday.

In its fiscal 2018 nuclear white paper, the Japan Atomic Energy Commission of the Cabinet Office underscored the importance of capitalizing on lessons learned from decommissioning projects in other countries to develop necessary technologies and win consent from nuclear plant-hosting communities.

The report comes as domestic electricity firms are gearing up the scrapping of a number of nuclear reactors due to cost considerations stemming from the stricter safety standards introduced in the wake of the March 2011 meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant.

In late July, Tepco decided to decommission all four reactors at its Fukushima No. 2 plant, which is located south of the crippled plant. Including those four, 24 reactors, or 40 percent of all units in the country, are now set to be dismantled.

Pointing out that decommissioning work is “a long-term project over several generations,” the white paper said the work “needs to be done smoothly and efficiently by utilizing new technologies and systems, as well as existing technologies.”

As an example, the paper refers to an integrated management system for radioactive waste established in France.

The commission also said in the annual report that it set new guidelines in July last year that include a policy of reducing plutonium recycled from spent nuclear fuel.

According to the commission, the amount of plutonium held in the country dropped 1.6 tons during the year from the end of July 2017.

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