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[cdn-nucl-l] Japan 1994 report says reprocessing twice cost of once-through
The following story is already getting play in US media. Can we preempt this
with a straight story to explain the short term 'investment' for the long
term benefits of assured fuel supply?
Note that Japan has recently reported that, due to the delay in the
pluthermal fuel plans, it has about 40 tons of Pu. They are also
substantially behind earlier reactor construction plans.
Plus, with the extent of foreign reprocessing and the costs of Rokkasho,
will there be embarrassing questions of 1994 estimates vs. actual/projected
costs in 2004?
Regards, Jim Muckerheide
Suppressed nuke study gave program's true cost
Nuclear fuel recycling program is twice as costly as the
The Asahi Shimbun, July 3, 2004
The industry ministry has admitted it suppressed a crucial
1994 study showing that its proposed nuclear fuel recycling
program would be twice as costly as simply burying spent
Officials of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and
its predecessor, the Ministry of International Trade and
Industry (MITI), had long insisted that no comparative cost
study on this issue had ever been done.
As recently as March 17, Kazumasa Kusaka, then
director-general of the Agency for Natural Resources and
Energy, stated that ``there is no comparison based on cost
estimates.'' He was replying to a question in the Upper
House Budget Committee put by Mizuho Fukushima, head of the
Social Democratic Party.
However, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry officials
told The Asahi Shimbun that documents were presented at a
ministry study group meeting held Feb. 4, 1994, that
demonstrated the exact opposite.
One document focused on costs to be incurred from recycling
spent nuclear fuel as opposed to simply burying spent fuel.
The results of the study are expected to influence
discussions at the Atomic Energy Commission of Japan, which
is to start debate this month on revising the Atomic Energy
The study found that reprocessing spent fuel at a facility
now under construction in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, and
using extracted plutonium as fuel in nuclear reactors would
require an additional 2.3 yen per kilowatt-hour in
electricity bills if average annual interest was assumed to
be 5 percent. If the spent fuel was simply buried, the
additional electricity cost would be 1.23 yen per kilowatt-hour.
Reprocessing the spent fuel at an overseas facility would
have meant an additional cost of 1.59 yen.
At that time, research overseas had found that recycling
spent nuclear fuel would be more expensive, leading many
Western nations to review the wisdom of nuclear recycling
MITI officials had wanted to publicize the study results as
a means of generating public debate, the sources said. But
some members of the study group wanted to withhold the
information on grounds that including a comparison with the
burial option, which had never been considered, would only
Others said the recycling program was essential from a
long-term perspective even if it meant slightly higher
electricity bills.(IHT/Asahi: July 3,2004) (07/03)