Japan shuts down last centrifuge cascade in Rokkasho

Japan Nuclear Fuels Ltd. (JNFL) shut down its last centrifuge cascade at the Rokkasho Uranium Enrichment plant on December 15, 2010, according to a report by Tokyo-based Citizen`s Nuclear Information Center (CNIC). The plant began operations in 1992 and was expected to reach the capacity of 1500 tonnes SWU/year. By 1998 JNFL installed seven 150-tonnes SWU/year cascades, brining the capacity of the plant to 1050 tonnes SWU/year. Because of problems with the technology, JNFL never deployed the last tree cascades and began shutting down the existing ones starting in April 2000. 

JNFL plans to replace old centrifuges with new ones, developed by Sumitomo Electric Industries and IHI Corporation. According to the current plan, installation of the new centrifuges will begin in 2011. The plant is expected to reach its full capacity of 1500 tonnes SWU/year in 2020.