Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has asked authorities in Fukushima Prefecture to allow it to use mixed oxide fuel at its nuclear power plant Fukushima from the beginning of 1999.

If the prefectural government and the civic governments in Okuma and neighbouring Futaba agree, the company will seek central government authorization for the scheme to use the fuel, which contains plutonium, at the Fukushima No 1 unit in Okuma. The mixed oxide fuel, which recycles plutonium extracted from spent fuel, is not currently used in any of Japan’s nuclear power plants.

In addition to Fukushima, Tepco wants to introduce the fuel at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture by 2000. It is also reported to be planning to use the fuel in another eight or nine reactors by 2010. Kansai Electric Power Co has also applied to the central government to use the fuel at its Takahama nuclear plant. It plans to introduce the fuel in two reactors in 1999 and 2000.