Nuclear fuel plant effectively clears screening

Japan's nuclear regulators have drafted documents that show a plant in northern Japan has effectively met government requirements to operate.

The facility, which is being built in Rokkasho Village, Aomori Prefecture, is Japan's first nuclear fuel plant designed to produce for commercial purposes MOX, or mixed oxide fuel, using plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel.

The plant is a key component of the government's policy to recycle nuclear fuel.

The operator, Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited, applied to the Nuclear Regulation Authority in 2014 for screening required for its operation.

The authority called for the plant's quake resistance to be upgraded by 50 percent so that it can withstand seismic movement of up to 700 gals. It also examined fire control measures at the facility.

On Wednesday, the authority unanimously endorsed the draft certificate. The plant is expected to be officially certified as having cleared screening after the authority solicits public opinion and other procedures are complete.

Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited aims to complete construction in the first half of fiscal 2022 at a cost of around 19 billion dollars.

The authority gave the go-ahead in July this year to a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, also in Rokkasho Village, for extracting plutonium from spent nuclear fuel.

However, construction of both facilities remain far behind schedule, while costs are ballooning.

In addition, the use of plutonium is not going as initially planned.