OSAKA, March 26 (Kyodo) — Kansai Electric Power Co. plans to use plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel, known as MOX, in so-called pluthermal power generation at its Takahama plant from around the fall of 2014, industry sources said Tuesday.
The Osaka-based utility firm included the plan in its earlier application for government permission to raise household electricity rates, the sources said.
Officially, Kansai Electric said it plans to use MOX fuel sometime between its 2013 business year that starts April 1 and the 2015 year that ends on March 31, 2016.
Kansai Electric said the plan is a temporary one to calculate power generation costs and it has yet to decide on using MOX fuel at the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast.
Kansai Electric, which last year relaunched two reactors at its four-reactor Oi plant, also in Fukui Prefecture, plans to resume operation of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama plant in July this year.
Kansai Electric's plan to use MOX fuel at the Takahama Plant could raise safety concerns among local governments and residents in Fukui Prefecture, as worries about nuclear power have mounted among Japanese people since the outbreak of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in March 2011.
The sources said Kansai Electric plans to use regular nuclear fuel for the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors initially after their planned restart in July and switch to MOX fuel for the No. 3 reactor around September 2014 following regular checkups to be conducted within 13 months after the restart.
Kansai Electric plans to use MOX fuel for the No. 4 reactor from around November that year.
Last week, Kansai Electric said that MOX fuel will be shipped from France to Japan for use in pluthermal power generation at the No. 3 reactor.
In 2010, the company used MOX fuel for power generation at the No. 3 reactor.
Kansai Electric said it would decide the timing of MOX fuel loading to the reactor in view of safety guidelines of the Nuclear Regulation Authority while seeking support from local governments and residents.
The Takahama nuclear plant has four reactors, with their output capacity ranging from 826,000 to 870,000 kilowatts.
Kansai Electric serves Osaka and surrounding areas mainly in western Japan.