Gearing up for MOX in Japan and US

01 November 2010

Work has officially begun on a plant to manufacture mixed oxide (MOX) fuel in Japan. Meanwhile international plans are in place to train the workforce for a new MOX plant under construction in the USA.

Future vision: what J-MOX could look like (Image: JNFL) 


A ceremony including prayers marked the formal start of construction on Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd's (JNFL's) J-MOX plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture. The Rokkasho site is already home to an 800 tonne per year reprocessing facility which has been separating spent fuel since 2007, and JNFL president Yoshihiko Kawai described the J-MOX plant as "a great step in completing the nuclear fuel cycle."
Construction of the J-MOX plant was delayed by three years from the planned 2007 start by revision of seismic criteria following on from the powerful Niigata-Chuetsu-Oki earthquake. Government approvals were granted earlier this year for construction to go ahead. The 130 tonne per year plant, which is estimated to cost ¥190 billion ($2.4 billion), is expected to start up in March 2016.
US MOX staff to train in France
Staff who will operate and manage the USA's MOX fuel plant currently under construction at Savannah River will be trained at Areva's MELOX and La Hague recycling facilities in France under a training program announced by the French fuel cycle company. The program will see 93 operators, technicians and managers from the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) receive hands-on training on key processes at the French plants from mid-2013 to 2015 in readiness for the startup of the US plant, currently scheduled for 2016.
The MFFF is being built in South Carolina by the Shaw Areva MOX Services joint venture based on the technology in use at the two French plants. The plant, which is being built for the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), will convert 3.5 tonnes per year of weapons-grade ex-US military plutonium to MOX fuel for use in Duke Energy's Catawba and McGuire plants.
Alan Hanson, Areva Inc executive vice president, technology and used fuel management, described the training contract as a "clear recognition of Areva's unparalleled experience" in nuclear fuel treatment and recycling of nuclear fuel and MOX fuel production. "As a partner in the MOX project, we are proud to support the National Nuclear Security Administration's non-proliferation efforts through the construction and operation of the MFFF," he added.

Researched and written

by World Nuclear News