The UK government announced in August it would close the Sellafield MOX plant. The troubled plant to date has not produced any usable MOX fuel. Japan so far has been the only customer and the 1999 shipment to Takahama was returned after it was found to be defective.
With TEPCO and CHUBU electric being the only customers lined up. TEPCO obviously isn’t in a position to attempt any further MOX programs. CHUBU owns Hamaoka nuclear power plant that has been shut down and a restart there is unlikely. Japan contributed a considerable amount of money to the plant in the UK, with the plant closure that money is lost.
One of the major issues surrounding Sellafield is that the plutonium stockpile has been promoted as an asset. Without a reprocessing plant and customers the UK government would be forced to admit it is a costly liability. The plant itself has been a huge financial boondoggle costing hundreds of millions of pounds just for construction, has never met reprocessing goals and to date has not successfully sold any fuel. Even in 2009, before the Fukushima disaster critics were complaining about the plant being a failure.
Still some are pushing for a new MOX plant and claiming “disposable MOX” would be a viable option as a way to dispose of fuel. Apparently the plan is to make the MOX then just bury it.
Questions also remained about the THORP reprocessing plant as it needs upgrades and also if it still has a purpose. While the MOX plant is officially closed, the total purpose and existence of Sellafield remains up in the air.
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