Chugoku, Kansai consider joint development of used fuel store

03 August 2023

Japanese utilities Chugoku Electric Power Company and Kansai Electric Power Company plan to jointly investigate the construction of a used fuel interim storage facility in Kaminoseki town in Yamaguchi prefecture. The facility would be built on land Chugoku acquired to build a nuclear power plant, plans for which have stalled.

A picture of the Kaminoseki site, taken in November 2010 (Image: Chugoku)

Chugoku submitted an application to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in December 2009 for the construction of two 1373 MWe advanced boiling water reactors at Kaminoseki on Nagashima Island. Plans called for construction of unit 1 to begin in June 2012, with commercial operation set for March 2018, while work on unit 2 would begin in 2018, with start-up scheduled for 2022. However, the application was still under review at the time of the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011 and that review has been on hold since then.

The utility received a licence from the Yamaguchi prefectural government in October 2008 to conduct earthworks at the site - some 40% of which would be located on reclaimed land. Those preparatory works began a year later, but were suspended following the Fukushima accident. The groundwork licence expired on 6 October 2012.

Tetsuo Nishi, mayor of Kaminoseki - which has been receiving reduced government subsidies for hosting the planned plant - asked Chugoku in February to consider new proposals to aid regional development.

In response, Chugoku has now suggested the construction of an interim storage facility for used nuclear fuel on the site, in partnership with Kansai. Chugoku has asked the mayor for permission to carry out an investigation of the site - including a literature survey, surface geological survey, as well as drilling - to determine its suitability to host such a facility. It noted the investigation would begin as soon as preparations are complete and would take about six months.

"In considering the interim storage facility, while considering the facility scale and economic efficiency, the Kansai region, which has judged that it would be difficult to construct and operate on its own, has a need for an interim storage facility similar to ours," Chugoku said. "Based on the premise of joint development with Kansai Electric Power Co, we will proceed with investigations and examinations in the future. We plan to formulate a specific plan based on the results of the survey and examination."

Kansai, whose used fuel storage pools are approaching full capacity, has been requested by Fukui prefecture to transport used fuel out of the prefecture.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News