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Plutonium Utilization Plans for FY 2009

The table at the bottom of this page is a translation of a table released on March 6, 2009 by the Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPCO). As noted in previous years, these plutonium utilization plans are essentially meaningless. There is no indication of when the plutonium separated at the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant will be used up. The sole purpose of the plans is to create an alibi to justify the operation of the plant.

FEPCO only released the plutonium utilization plans of Japanese utilities. In addition to these, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) also released a plutonium utilization plan on the same day. JAEA's projected quantity of plutonium held at the end of FY 2008 was 3.6 tons fissile plutonium (Puf), of which 0.7 tons Puf was held in the form of new fuel assemblies. The projected quantity of plutonium held at the end of FY 2009 is also 3.6 tons Puf. The projected quantity to be used annually is 0.1 tons Puf in the Joyo experimental fast reactor and 0.5 tons Puf in the Monju fast breeder reactor. JAEA predicted that it would take 6 years to use the plutonium from the time each reactor restarts.

Meanwhile, due to problems with the vitrification facility, the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant has not produced any plutonium since October 2008. The amount of "plutonium product" produced so far at Rokkasho is 6,656 kg. Since this "plutonium product" is calculated as the metal component of the MOX product (mixed oxide of uranium and plutonium), the amount of plutonium is roughly half this figure. (Note: JNFL's monthly reports do not give figures for fissile plutonium.)

Philip White (NIT Editor)

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