The government has decided to carry out a fundamental review of the fate of the Monju prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, operated by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), with an eye to eventually decommissioning the troubled reactor. The government will make a final decision on the matter by the end of this year after consulting with concerned local governments. Over 1 trillion yen in taxpayers’ money has been invested in Monju. However, operations at the reactor have almost completely been suspended for more than 20 years because of a series of accidents and other problems. Hundreds of billions of yen would reportedly be needed to restart Monju. Still, there are no prospects that the operation of the reactor would produce any results. It is only natural, therefore, that the government intends to decommission the reactor. At the same time, the government’s responsibility for repeatedly delaying a decision on the fate of the trouble-plagued reactor should be seriously called into question. The government has promoted the nuclear fuel cycle project, in which plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel is mixed with uranium to produce mixed oxide fuel, or MOX fuel, to be used at nuclear reactors, as part of national policy. A fast-breeder reactor, which produces more plutonium than that consumed, is the core facility of the nuclear fuel cycle project along with a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant.
Mainichi 23rd Sept 2016 read more »