Orano has been contracted to carry out preparatory work for the transport of 731 used fuel assemblies from the Fugen experimental Advanced Thermal Reactor (ATR) in Japan to France for reprocessing.

The Fugen ATR (Image: JAEA)

Fugen was a 165 MWe heavy water moderated, boiling light water cooled reactor of the pressure tube type. It was fuelled solely with mixed oxide (MOX) uranium and plutonium fuel. The reactor - at Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture - entered commercial operation in March 1979 and was shut down in March 2003. The reactor's decommissioning programme was approved in February 2008.

Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) has now awarded Orano a contract - the value of which has not been disclosed - to prepare for the shipment of 731 used MOX fuel assemblies from Fugen to France.

Orano said it will conduct all the technical preparatory works for the future shipments of 111 tonnes of nuclear materials planned to be carried out between 2023 and 2026, including the design and manufacturing of a fleet of transport casks which will meet national and international nuclear safety and security regulations.

The contract also envisages studies to be carried out prior to the acceptance and recycling operations for the used fuel at its La Hague plant, Orano said.

"The signature of this major contract confirms that our customers are choosing nuclear recycling as a responsible and efficient solution for managing their used fuel. It consolidates the international dimension of our industrial platform in France", said Pascal Aubret, executive vice president of Orano's Recycling Business Unit. "This important step forward is also a reward for the all the work and effort put in by our teams on this project".

Frédéric de Agostini, senior executive vice president of Orano's Nuclear Packaging and Services Business Unit, said: "The choice that the JAEA has made further strengthens the long-term relationship that we have with our Japanese partners. Orano has internationally recognized know-how both in the design and approval of packaging by the competent authorities, and in the transport of nuclear materials. This unique expertise enables us to propose a solution that is safe, reliable and perfectly adapted to our customer's needs".

Used fuel from the Fugen ATR had previously been reprocessed at JAEA's Tokai reprocessing plant in Ibaraki prefecture, which entered full operation in 1981. However, the plant was idled in 2006 when a contract for reprocessing used fuel from commercial power reactors came to an end. JAEA announced in September 2014 that it would permanently shut down the reprocessing plant as modifications required under post-Fukushima safety regulations were too costly.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Friday, 16 November 2018
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Orano-prepares-Fugen-ATR-fuel-for-reprocessing