The government has decided to decommission the fast breeder reactor Monju and at the same time it announced a new plan in a meting of the Council on Fast Reactor Development, a body co-led by the government and business groups, to develop and construct a new fast breeder reactor. The government is intended to stay nuclear fuel cycle alive through this development project.
DECOMISSIONING MONJU, BUT MAINTAINING SAME PROJECT
The only option to deal with the Monju, which is non-operational for long time, is to decommission. The topic was raised in this column of the October 11 Issue, too. The government was, finally, obliged to scrap the fast breeder reactor. Responding to the government’s decision, strong concerns are voiced by the local hosting municipality of Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture, and Aomori Prefecture, a relevant administrative unit. The reaction has led to presentation of petitions to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as well as the Ministry of Education and Science & Technology.
The fact reveals again how the hosting municipalities are poisoned by the nuclear mafia groups. On the other hand, however, there is a speculation that the Abe government might commit in nuclear armament of the nation thanks to emergence of President Trump in the United States.
The government, in exchange of decommissioning of the Monju, has decided on a new project to build up another fast reactor, telling that its schedule would be announced during the year of 2018. Major players in the new program are not the capital of electric power industries, but of heavy industries and electric manufacturing ones.
It is enough for an electric power company to remove spent nuclear fuel from its premises. It is not necessary for them to operate a reprocessing plant.
On the contrary, it is better for electric power companies not to extract and return plutonium after operation. It is inconvenient for them, after plutonium is bred, to use a massive amount of the fuel which is more dangerous and expensive than uranium.
According to the explanation of government, plutonium will not be bred in the new-type of reactor as uranium is not loaded in the blanket. It continues to say that the processing period could be shortened as it will burn such waste radioactive materials whose half-life is long.
There are, however, arguments. Firstly, even though uranium is not loaded at the initial moment, it is easy to design a facility which may enable to breed plutonium. Secondly, risks will not be reduced at all as liquid sodium is applied as a coolant. Thirdly, a fast reactor which does not breed is fairly expensive. It is absolutely useless as a reactor to generate electricity.
Even if the processing period of nuclear wastes is shortened successfully, that only means conceivable technologically. From a commercial point of view, it is extremely costly. Fourthly, assuming that the new model will be jointly developed with France, the construction cost of another demonstration reactor or a commercial reactor of a size of a million kilo watt of output, which will be a successor of French ASTRID (=Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration), will reach several trillions of Yen to clear the new criteria against earthquakes. Incidentally, it cost the Monju over 1 trillion Yen whose output is 280 thousand kilo watt. The amount is almost equal to the sum 10 times bigger than that of a light water reactor. There is no need to say who pays for it.
Thus, a new program is too dangerous and costly to generate electricity. It will bring bigger and easier money to monopolies of heavy industries and manufacturing industries at the expense of taxpayers. The government of Abe families as well as the military-industrial capital, in a positive response to the new president of the United States, is challenging to go to nuclear armament, relying on the development of a new fast reactor to produce highly purified plutonium.
All the nuclear power plants, reprocessing plants and a construction plan of a new fast reactor must be abolished immediately. This is the only option.
December 20, 2016