Tokyo, Dec 21 (IANS) Japan on Wednesday approved the dismantling of its only fast-breeder nuclear reactor, authorities said.
The decision to shut down and dismantle the experimental nuclear plant at Monju (west) was officially adopted by the council of ministers following a year of discussions after the country’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) recommended its closure, Efe news reported.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced the decision during a press conference and said that after the dismantling, the site will be used as an education and research centre in nuclear material.
Japan has invested more than one trillion yen ($8.5 billion) in nuclear research and development.
Monju was expected to serve as a great precursor in nuclear fuel recycling, as it was designed to produce more plutonium than it consumes during the electricity generation process.
The government has estimated that the dismantling process will cost some 375,000 yen and take 31 years.
The reactor became functional in 1995 but operations were suspended the same year until May 2010 due to sodium leak, followed by another accident in August 2010 that led to its closure.
NRA later revealed that the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which operates Monju, skipped compulsory maintenance inspections of some 10,000 components of the reactor and that the dozens of security cameras on the premises did not work.