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Japan postpones updating nuclear policy framework

world Updated: Jul 03, 2009 11:53 IST
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The Japan Atomic Energy Commission has decided to postpone revising basic outline of country’s nuclear policy because a series of problems at nuclear facilities that have clouded policymaking, sources said.

The next revision of the framework, done every five years in principle since 1956, was scheduled for 2010 but has been put on hold, sources said, adding the next date for the commission’s debate has yet to be fixed.

The decision came after the commission’s debate on Thursday.

The current outline has been drawn up in 2005 that maintains Japan will continue the nuclear fuel cycle based on use of pluthermal power generation but stipulated for the first time that it will also consider the option of disposing of spent fuel without reprocessing.

However, the key reprocessing Rokkasho plant of Aomori Prefecture, has been prevented from beginning full operations due to problems during test runs. Affected by the delay, power industry has also decided to put off its plan to use plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel at nuclear reactors.

Reviewing safety of nuclear power plants was affected by a major earthquake in 2007 that caused damage to Niigata’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

A fast-breeder nuclear reactor in Fukui Prefecture, which was shut since 1995 after a sodium coolant leak caused fire, is behind schedule due to ongoing construction to enhance the earthquake resistance of the facility.