Thursday, April 7, 2011

More on Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant in Aomori That Has Lost External Power and Has 3,258 Tons of Spent Fuel

It looks this plant has been built by shaving off the tops of the mountains.

From Wiki English:

The Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant (六ヶ所村核燃料再処理施設 Rokkasho Kakunenryō Saishori Shisetsu?) is a nuclear reprocessing plant with an annual capacity of 800 tons of uranium or 8 tons of plutonium,[1] owned by Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited located in the village of Rokkasho in northeast Aomori Prefecture, Japan approximately 17 miles (27 kilometers) north of the US Air Force's Misawa Air Base. Since 1993 there has been US$ 20 billion invested in the project, nearly triple the original cost estimate.[2] It is currently[when?] undergoing test operations, separating a small amount of used nuclear fuel. It is the successor to a smaller reprocessing plant located in Tōkai, Ibaraki.

At the same site there will also be:

In 2010, the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant consisted of 38 buildings on an area of 3,800,000 m². [1]

After the Tōhoku earthquake in March 2011, the plant ran on emergency power provided by backup diesel generators.[10] The emergency generators were not intended for long-term use.[11] Reportedly there are about 3,000 tons of highly radioactive used nuclear fuel stored in Rokkasho at current, that could overheat and catch fire if the cooling systems fail.

3,000 tons????

Gleaning more info from the Japanese wiki:

The plant is built with assistance from France. (AREVA, most likely.)

The plant has been running a "active test run" since March 31 of 2006. The test run was supposed to be over by January of 2009, but it still continues. The plant has been besieged with various accidents ever since it started the "active test run".

There is a very strong opposition against this particular plant. Greenpeace Japan (link is in Japanese) has said that the radioactive materials that would be released from the plant in one day is equivalent of the radioactive materials that would be released from a nuclear plant in one year.

O M G. From the Plant's own website:

Meanwhile, we received 93 tons of spent fuel in the current fiscal year, and 3,258 tons of spent fuel in total are stored up now.

So it's 3,258 tons.

and 13,272 spent fuel rods, according to their Japanese website.


Anonymous said...

Nuclear fuel reprocessing is a very dirty business and it is responsible for many of the greatest "legal" releases of transuranic waste into the environment. The biggest lie revolving around reprocessing is it reduces waste when it actually increases the volume of waste.

"reprocessing does not reduce the need for storage and disposal of radioactive waste, and a geologic repository would still be required. Plutonium constitutes only about one percent of the spent fuel from U.S. reactors. After reprocessing, the remaining material will be in several different waste forms, and the total volume of nuclear waste will have been increased by a factor of twenty or more, including low-level waste and plutonium-contaminated waste."

Reprocessing and Spent Nuclear Fuel Management at the Savannah River Site

"Reprocessing is probably the dirtiest operation in the nuclear fuel cycle. (If there's a dirtier step, it's the initial mining and milling of uranium which has scarred the landscape of affected areas with millions of tons of dangerous dirt called tailings and large amounts of low-grade ore.) In South Carolina alone, reprocessing is responsible for creating the most radioactive waste in the country -- over 30 million gallons of high-level liquid waste containing chemicals used in the separation process combined with a long list of radioactive elements created inside the reactors. Reprocessing has also generated tens of thousands of containers of solid radioactive waste which is buried just a few miles from the Savannah River. Already some of that waste has moved into soils and groundwater at SRS, while some liquid low-level radioactive waste from reprocessing began seeping into creeks at SRS years ago.

It will cost U.S. taxpayers tens of billions of dollars to contain the waste from past reprocessing. There are no plans to ever completely clean it up. No one yet knows how to do so safely, even if there was money to try."

Anonymous said...

If you have a netflix account they have a documentary called "Building Bombs" that cover the contamination to the area surrounding the Savannah River. They take about radioactive turtles and how most of the locals depend on the site for income so they don't talks against the facility. They also talk about Tritium contamination of the local water. I've read any Tritium at Fukushima will probably have to be ignored because it is so expensive to remove from waste water. The article in the link below says they need to reduce the volume of contaminated water by concentrating it by evaporation but other experts say open evaporation may release more contamination.

From Article:

"A factor that could vastly complicate the problem is the presence of tritium, or heavy water, which is produced during fission. Tritium cannot be filtered out of water, instead requiring an extremely expensive treatment process.

"If the contaminated water has relatively high tritium or tritiated water concentration, then treatment could be more complicated," said Joonhong Ahn, a nuclear waste expert at UC Berkeley".

"At Three Mile Island it was decided to allow the tritium-contaminated water to evaporate, though that meant the tritium escaped as well".

"Morse said that the plant faces at least six months of emergency stabilization, about two years of temporary remediation and anywhere from two years to 30 years of full-scale cleanup. Furthermore, the high levels of ground contamination at the site are raising concerns about the viability of people working at the site in coming decades.",0,2011011.story

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Robbie, is tritium produced in light water reactor? or is it used in light water reactor? I thought that was for nuclear fusion reactors.

Anonymous said...

Tritium is produced in all water moderated reactors to some degree. BWR's create a bit less than PWR designs because BWR's normally don't use boric acid in their coolant but they all produce it and it is found in spent fuel. TEPCO claims they have added boric acid to one or maybe more of the reactors to control re-criticality this will probably generate tritium through neutron capture in the boric acid.

Anonymous said...

Here's a list of a few other nasties that can be found in spent fuel the actual numbers depend on burnup profile and age of the fuel. This graph shows 10 year old PWR UOX. This can give you and idea of the poisons that are generated beyond I-131, Cs-137 and Tritium.

M. Simon said...


You ought to make a Favicon so you don't have that ugly orange blob representing you on the tabs bar.

You will see mine when you click the above link.


I don't think boron is used in PWRs under normal conditions. You are correct about the other stuff though.

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ, reactivity adjustment to maintain 100% power as the fuel is burned up in most commercial PWRs is normally achieved by varying the concentration of boric acid dissolved in the primary reactor coolant.


Pursuant to 10 CFR 50.54(f), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is requesting
information to assess safe operation of pressurized water reactors (PWRs)
when reactor coolant leaks below technical specification limits develop and
the coolant containing dissolved boric acid comes in contact with and
degrades low alloy carbon steel components.

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