Japan plans to scrap fast-breeder reactor

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.

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.

–IANS

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