Sep 22, 2016

    Tokyo may scrap Monju reactor over high costs


    JAPAN is likely to mothball a prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor in the country's west that has operated for less than a year in over two decades, local media reported yesterday.

    More than one trillion yen (S$13.4 billion) of mostly public money has been injected into the Monju facility.

    But Japan's nuclear regulator last year declared its operator unfit after years of accidents and falsification of documents.

    Tokyo is also grappling with anti-nuclear sentiment in the wake of the Fukushima atomic disaster.

    The government believes it would be difficult to gain public support to spend another 580 billion yen on the project over the next 18 years if the reactor was restarted, the Nikkei business daily and Mainichi newspaper said, without citing sources.

    A formal decision to decommission Monju is likely to follow by year-end after talks with local governments, the Nikkei and Mainichi added.

    The call to decommission Monju has been growing in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, with scant results from using around 20 billion yen a year for maintenance alone.

    Located 400km west of Tokyo, the reactor was designed to burn plutonium refined from spent fuel at conventional reactors to create more fuel than it consumes.

    That process was seen promising for a country whose limited natural resources force it to import oil and gas.

    The Yomiuri newspaper said Japan would continue to co-develop a fast breeder technological demonstration reactor that has been proposed in France.

    Japan will also continue research at its first experimental fast-breeder reactor, Joyo, a predecessor of Monju, the Nikkei said.