The Japanese government has made the formal decision that the Monju prototype fast breeder reactor (FBR) will not be restarted and steps will be taken to decommission it. However, the government also said the country’s development of fast reactors would continue.
World Nuclear News 22nd Dec 2016 read more »
Independent 23rd Dec 2016 read more »
The government formally decided on Dec. 21 to decommission Japan’s Monju prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor, yet will continue to pursue the nuclear fuel cycle in which plutonium is extracted from spent fuel through reprocessing to be used again. This stance by the government takes the existence of fast reactors and the nuclear fuel cycle as a foregone conclusion. Over 1 trillion yen in public funds has been injected into the Monju project, yet due to recurring trouble and scandals, the reactor has operated for just 250 days over 22 years. The Nuclear Regulation Authority went as far as to point out that Monju’s operator, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, was not capable of running the reactor and should be replaced. It is only natural for the reactor to be scrapped, but there remains a problem in that the government has closed its eyes to various issues in reaching its decision. Why was it unable to act sooner to put an end to the waste of taxpayers’ money and decommission the reactor? Disregarding any probe into such issues, the government went ahead and made its decision behind closed doors. This in no way to win public approval. An even more fundamental problem is that while the government is set to decommission the Monju reactor, it has decided to proceed with the development of a demonstration fast reactor — a step up from Monju. Fast reactors form a cornerstone of the nuclear fuel cycle. The decommissioning of Monju should mean the cycle is broken, and if that is the case, then what needs to be reviewed above all is the fuel cycle policy itself.
Mainichi 22nd Dec 2016 read more »