Japan eyes recycling of MOX fuel in late 2030s

Japan's industry ministry says it aims to develop technology by around the late 2030s to reprocess and reuse mixed oxide nuclear fuel, which contains plutonium extracted from spent fuel.

Ministry officials announced the target at a meeting with executives of electric power companies on Tuesday, and asked for their support to develop the technology.

Japan's nuclear recycling policy calls for MOX fuel, which itself is recycled fuel, to be further reprocessed to extract plutonium. However, a plant to handle the process is still in the planning stage.

Meanwhile, spent MOX fuel assemblies are being stored at three nuclear power plants that used the fuel.

The three plants are Ikata nuclear power plant of Shikoku Electric Power Company, Takahama nuclear power plant of Kansai Electric Power Company and Kyushu Electric Power Company's Genkai nuclear power plant.

Only four nuclear reactors in Japan run on MOX fuel. At the meeting, industry minister Kajiyama Hiroshi said his ministry will consider assistance for local governments that support the fuel's use.