Fuel cycle safety rules for Japan

28 November 2013

CORRECTED: An earlier version of this story stated that new rules for research reactors would apply to the Monju unit. This error is corrected below.
Safety rules for Japan's nuclear fuel facilities have been finalised, ready for parliamentary approval next month. 

Rokkasho (JNFL) 460x246
The Rokkasho fuel cycle centre in Japan's northern Aomori prefecture (Image: JNFL)

The new standards will be applied to the country's fuel fabrication plants - including the mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel facility currently under construction at Rokkasho - and its reprocessing facilities. Used fuel and radioactive waste storage and disposal facilities will also be subject to the revised rules, as will research reactors (except the Monju prototype fast breeder reactor) and nuclear fuel research centres.

The requirements vary from facility to facility, but generally include reinforcement measures against natural threats such as earthquakes and tsunamis, and in some cases tornadoes, volcanoes and forest fires.

At fuel fabrication plants, proper confinement of radioactive material is required, as are severe accident countermeasures for potential criticality accidents. Reprocessing plants need to demonstrate these as well as countermeasures specifically for terrorist attacks, hydrogen explosions, fires resulting from solvent leaks and vaporization of liquid waste.

The rules are expected to be in force by 18 December, after approval by representatives in the Diet.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News