Japan to resume accepting nuclear waste from UK

The operator of a storage facility in northern Japan is making arrangements with power companies to resume accepting shipments of highly radioactive nuclear waste from spent fuel reprocessed in Britain.

NHK has learned that Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited has started talks with utility companies to accept the nuclear waste again in the business year that begins next April.

The facility in Aomori Prefecture has now met the government requirements for its operation that were introduced after the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima.

Japan has been promoting a policy of using special fuel at nuclear power plants. The fuel is made of plutonium extracted from reprocessed spent nuclear fuel.

Japan has commissioned Britain and France to handle the reprocessing, as it does not have any commercial plants that can carry out the task.

Under the contracts, the two European nations will return the highly radioactive nuclear waste left after reprocessing to Japan. But shipments from Britain have been suspended since 2016 to allow the facility in Aomori to undergo screenings for the new requirements.

France has already completed sending such waste back to Japan.

Japan plans to build a final underground disposal site for high-level radioactive waste. So far, two municipalities in Hokkaido, also in northern Japan, have decided to take part in the first stage of a government process to select the site.