The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) announced at a meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on Thursday that according to the JAEA’s estimate, it will take roughly 70 years to shut down the Tokai nuclear waste reprocessing plant in Tokai-mura, Ibaraki Prefecture. In response, the NRA pointed out that some improvements also needed to be made to the plant’s aging facilities and instructed the JAEA to conduct a study on the total amount of money and labor it will take to close the plant. The JAEA is to submit a plan outlining the details by the end of November.
The Tokai plant started full operation in 1981 to reprocess spent fuel from nuclear reactors. The reprocessing work has already been completed, and the decision has been made to close the facility.
As of January this year, however, the plant still stored about 400 cubic meters of highly radioactive wastewater. The conversion of the nuclear waste into a solid glass form [suitable for long-term storage and disposal] has been stalled due to an equipment problem. Nevertheless, the JAEA said on Sept. 8 that it expects the glassification to be completed in about 20 years, as originally scheduled.