Spent MOX fuel removed at Ikata nuclear plant; 1st time in Japan
Japan Today -- Jan 15
Spent mixed oxide fuel has been removed from a reactor at a nuclear power plant in western Japan in the first such operation in Japan, the plant operator said Tuesday.

Shikoku Electric Power Co said it pulled out one of the 16 MOX fuel rods from the No.3 reactor of its Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture at 11:57 p.m. on Monday as part of maintenance work.

MOX fuel is made of plutonium and uranium extracted while reprocessing spent fuel and is a key component of resource-poor Japan's nuclear fuel recycling program. Using such fuel is also important for the country to reduce its stockpile of plutonium, which can be used to make nuclear weapons.

The No. 3 unit restarted operations in 2018 under stricter safety regulations introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis led to a nationwide halt of nuclear power plants. The reactor is among several rebooted units using MOX fuel.

Shikoku Electric plans to complete the removal of the 16 fuel rods within a few days and will load five new MOX fuel rods as part of the reactor's periodic maintenance work that started on Dec 26.

The spent MOX fuel rods will temporarily be stored in a cooling pool at the plant, since there are no reprocessing facilities in Japan at present.

定期検査中の愛媛県の伊方原発3号機で、使用済みMOX燃料の取り出しが始まりました。営業運転をしている原発としては初めてです。  四国電力によりますと、使用済みMOX燃料の取り出しは13日午後9時以降に始まり、順調に進めば16日までに16体の取り出しが予定されています。MOX燃料は使用済みの核燃料を再利用して作るもので、今回、営業運転をしている原発では初めて取り出されました。伊方原発3号機では取り出しの準備をしていた12日に制御棒1体を誤って引き抜くトラブルが起きていて、予定していた作業の開始が遅れていました。国は使用済みMOX燃料の再利用を検討していますが、実用化できておらず、今回、取り出された燃料は伊方原発のプールで一時保管されます。
News sources: Japan Today, ANNnewsCH
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