Japan's uranium enrichment plant in Rokkasho shipped little product since 2012

On 24 May 2018 Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited (JNFL) shipped 4 tonnes of LEU hexafluoride to the Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel fabrication plant. TooNippo, a local paper in Aomori, reported at that time that it was the 25th shipment of uranium product and the first one since 2012. It was said to be old material that was produced earlier and stored at the plant.

The chart below, "Low-enriched uranium shipping," reproduced from the JNFL site, shows that no shipments were made in 2019.


It is not entirely clear why the plant is not shipping the uranium product, assuming that it produces one. Since 2012 the plant operates new centrifuges (RE-2A to RE-2C) that replaced the original machines that were shut down in 2011. According to JNFL, the original capacity of the plant when it operated older machines was 1,050 tSWU/year. Two cascades of new centrifuges, 37.5 tSWU/year each, were installed in March 2012 and May 2013. This most likely means that the current capacity of the facility is 74 tSWU/year. The facility is expected to reach the capacity of 1,500 tSWU/year by 2022.

(The post was updated to reflect that the current capacity of the plant is 75 tSWU/year.)