Japan to scrap Monju reactor
The Japanese government will decommission the Monju nuclear reactor in Fukui prefecture after a series of safety problems.
Science minister Hirokazu Matsuno and industry minister Hiroshige Seko informed Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa of the plan in Tokyo on Monday.
Government officials said resuming operations at the fast-breeder reactor would take at least 8 years and cost more than 4.5 billion dollars.
Instead, the officials plan to develop a new fast reactor through cooperation with France.
The government is considering installing a new experimental reactor at the Monju site and making the area a nuclear research and development center.
Nishikawa criticized the plan, saying the government hasn’t fully discussed whether nuclear fuel recycling is possible without the resumption of the Monju reactor.
He said there hasn’t been enough debate about a new operator if the government scraps the reactor.
Plan to decommission troubled Monju reactor meets local criticism
TOKYO (Kyodo) — The central government’s plan to decommission the Monju fast-breeder reactor came under heavy criticism Monday from the governor of the prefecture where the trouble-prone nuclear facility is based.
Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa said the move to decommission the reactor is “totally unacceptable” after being told of the plan in a meeting with the central government on Monday.
“I strongly demand the government review the plan,” Nishikawa said, stating the central government had not provided sufficient justification for the decommissioning.
Nishikawa also said the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which operates the plant, is not capable of safely dismantling the reactor, having been disqualified from operating the facility by a nuclear regulatory body last year following revelations of a massive number of equipment inspection failures in 2012 and other blunders.
The government was planning to officially decide to decommission the reactor at a ministerial meeting Tuesday but the schedule is likely to be pushed back as it is still trying to convince local residents about its plan.
In a separate meeting on Monday, the government said it expects scrapping the Monju reactor to cost more than 375 billion yen ($3.2 billion) over the next 30 years, based on a plan to begin the decommissioning process next year.
It expects 225 billion yen for maintenance, 135 billion yen for dismantling the facility, 15 billion yen for extracting spent nuclear fuel and preparation works for decommissioning.
The fee could further expand if the decommissioning process takes longer than estimated, the government said.
The government originally intended the Monju reactor to play a key role in achieving a nuclear fuel cycle aimed at reprocessing uranium fuel used in conventional reactors and reusing the extracted plutonium and uranium.
But it has remained largely offline since first achieving criticality in 1994, due to a leakage of sodium coolant and other problems.
In addition to revealing the decommissioning fee, the government also compiled a plan to develop an alternative fast reactor to Monju at the meeting attended by industry minister Hiroshige Seko, science minister Hirokazu Matsuno and Federation of Electric Power Companies Chairman Satoru Katsuno among others.
While maintaining its policy to promote the nuclear fuel cycle, the government plans to compile a roadmap by 2018 to develop the alternative fast reactor.