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2010 Plutonium Utilization Plans and Plutonium Holdings

On March 16 the electric power companies reported their plutonium utilization plans for the 2010 fiscal year to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). They also published data on the quantity of separated plutonium they own. The data was published in 100-kilogram units of fissile plutonium, but in response to requests from the general public, for the sake of transparency companies verbally provided kilogram quantities for their plutonium utilization plans. (A summary prepared by CNIC, including data provided verbally, is shown in the table below.)

Most power companies only provided figures in 100-kilogram units for plutonium held overseas and plutonium held at Japan Atomic Energy Agency's (JAEA) Tokai facility, despite requests from the public for data in kilograms. Hokkaido Electric and Shikoku Electric gave some additional information verbally. Hokkaido Electric said that it owned 90kg of fissile plutonium stored in Europe. Shikoku Electric only said that it owned 35kg of plutonium stored in France.

Data should be published by all companies in writing in kilogram units for all separated plutonium, wherever it is held.

Allocation of plutonium stored in the UK was not complete at the end of 2009, so this figure will increase slightly in future. Another point to note is that in November 2009 seven electric power companies signed contracts with J-Power to provide it with plutonium separated in France for use in its Ohma Nuclear Power Plant. A total of 1.3 tons will be provided by the seven companies as follows: Tohoku 0.1 tons, Tokyo 0.7 tons, Chubu 0.1 tons, Hokuriku 0.1 tons, Chugoku 0.2 tons, Shikoku 0.0 tons (less than 500kg), Kyushu 0.1 tons.

JAEA has 3,145kg of plutonium at its Tokai Reprocessing Facility. Of this, 348kg has been made into fuel. This year it plans to recover 0.01 tons of plutonium by reprocessing 5 tons of spent fuel. It plans to use 171kg of fissile plutonium this fiscal year to test its Monju Fast Breeder Reactor up to 40% power output.

The Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant is scheduled to begin commercial operations in October and to reprocess 80 tons of spent fuel this fiscal year. Some companies' holdings of fissile plutonium will increase even though their spent fuel will not be reprocessed this fiscal year. The reason for this is that plutonium will be allocated based on the quantity of fissile plutonium contained in spent fuel delivered to the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant, regardless of which company's spent fuel is actually reprocessed.

The plutonium utilization plans only show fissile plutonium. An AEC Commissioner suggested that total plutonium should be published too. In Japan's inventory of separated plutonium, which is published around September each year, total plutonium is shown for plutonium held in Japan at the end of the calendar year (see NIT 133 for Dec. 2008 inventory). Plutonium held overseas is only given in fissile plutonium and only fissile plutonium is given for the overall sum of plutonium stored in Japan and overseas. All of these figures should be given for both fissile and total plutonium.

Hideyuki Ban (CNIC Co-Director)

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Citizens' Nuclear Information Center
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