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The United States’ top nuclear regulator said Friday that atomic energy users, including Japan, must figure out how to ultimately store radioactive waste.
>Japan has no final waste repository, not even a potential site. The U.S. government’s plan for building a repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada has been halted by strong local opposition due to safety concerns.
“In the nuclear community, we of course have to face the reality of the end product — spent fuel,” Macfarlane told reporters.
She urged countries that are contemplating or embarking on a nuclear power program to formulate back-end plans at an early stage.
The new policy under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-nuclear government is pushing to restart as many reactors as possible if deemed safe under the new, stricter safety standards that took effect this past summer. The new policy, whose draft was discussed Friday by a government panel, is also expected to stick to Japan’s shaky fuel cycle program despite international concerns about the country’s massive plutonium stockpile.
Japan is stuck with 44 tons of plutonium at home and overseas after unsuccessfully pushing to establish a fuel cycle, with its fast breeder reactor and a reprocessing plant never fully operated. Experts say Japan’s plutonium stockpile poses a nuclear security threat and raises questions over whether Japan plans to develop a nuclear weapon, which Tokyo denies.
Japan also has more than 14,000 tons of spent fuel in cooling pools at its 50 reactors, all of which are offline. Some pools are expected to be full in several years, and are expected to be moved to a dry cask facility just completed in northern Japan.<
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