Plant Operation

Eight Years Needed To Restart Japan’s Monju FBR, Says Minister

By David Dalton
30 November 2016

30 Nov (NucNet): It would take eight years to restart the Monju prototype fast breeder reactor (FBR) in Japan’s Fukui Prefecture because of the need to respond to new nuclear regulations imposed since the March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi accident, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) minister Hirokazu Matsuno said. In a meeting with Fukui governor Issei Nishikawa, Mr Matsuno put the estimated operating costs of Monju until the end of its scheduled lifetime at about $4.82bn (€4.52bn). The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (Jaif) said the purpose of the meeting was to exchange views on the government’s review of Monju, including its possible decommissioning, as well as on Japan’s FBR development policy. Jaif said a decision on the Monju FBR and national FBR policy are expected at a ministerial meeting on nuclear energy to be held before the end of the year. Media reports in Japan have said the government has decided to decommission Monju, which reached criticality for the first time in 1994, but has mostly been offline since 1995. Monju is designed to use mixed fuel rods of uranium and plutonium, and to produce more fuel than it consumes. Regarded as the core facility of the government’s policy for nuclear fuel recycling, Monju is different from conventional nuclear power plants, which use water as coolants. Monju uses sodium as the coolant, meaning more sophisticated technology is required for its operation.

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