Japan plans to scrap fast-breeder reactor

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Tokyo, Aug 29 (IANS) Japan may scrap a fast-breeder reactor after estimating that its reactivation requires huge funds, an official said on Monday.

A political decision on decommissioning the experimental reactor could be in sight, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga joining talks to determine the fate of the Monju reactor, which has a prolonged track record of safety problems, the official said.

The decommissioning of the sodium-cooled fast reactor — a Generation IV reactor project — will likely mark a major change in the national nuclear fuel-recycle policy, in which Monju was designated to play a key part, the Kyodo news agency reported.

Japan had pinned much hopes on the reactor — which produces more plutonium than it consumes — as a possible solution to the country’s scarce energy resources.

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The Japan Atomic Energy Agency has been responsible for the reactor, although the government was looking for another agency to handle the plant following a recommendation by the Nuclear Regulation Authority in November 2015, which also suggested dismantling the plant as an alternative, reported EFE news.

Dismantling is expected to cost around $2.93 billion, while the annual maintenance cost of the plant is estimated at $195 million.

Nuclear safety is a sensitive topic in Japan since the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.



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