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Nuclear fuel loading underway at Japan’s first scheduled restart

by Greg Klein | July 7, 2015

With a highly anticipated restart looming, a Japanese utility began loading nuclear fuel into the Sendai 1 reactor on July 7. Citing a spokesperson for Kyushu Electric Power, the Japan Times stated 157 fuel rod assemblies are expected to be installed by July 10.

Should the reactor pass safety checks required by Japan’s new Nuclear Regulation Authority, “Sendai 1 could return to normal power generation around September,” the World Nuclear News reported. “Around two months later it should be joined by Sendai 2. Another 15 reactors are moving through the restart process, which has been prioritized to bring on the most-needed reactors first, in the localities and prefectures more supportive of restart.”

Prior to the 2011 Fukushima disaster, nuclear energy provided about 30% of Japan’s electricity, according to the World Nuclear Association. “Currently 43 reactors are operable and potentially able to restart, and 24 of these are in the process of restart approvals.”

Japan’s return to nuclear energy would use up excess inventory attributed to the country and could also provide a psychological boost for uranium’s price, which plummeted in 2011, hit record lows last year and has continued to disappoint uranium suppliers.

The Ux Consulting price indicator for July 6 came to $36.50 per pound U3O8. Since 1996 prices for long-term contracts have averaged about 18% higher than spot indicators, although with significant variations, according to figures supplied by Cameco Corp TSX:CCO.

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