The government officially decided to decommission the fast breeder reactor Monju in the end of last year, but it does not still abandon a dream of having a nuclear fuel cycle plan. The Monju decommissioning means only a partial revision of the plan. What is necessary is a total discard of a nuclear fuel cycle set-up.
NOT A PARTIAL REVISION OF PLAN, BUT A FULL WITHDRWAL FROM NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE
High-speed Neutrons Used
The Monju was, from the outset, a nuclear reactor which could not be feasible technologically and economically. From a technological point of view, it applies a massive amount of plutonium. The substance is extremely difficult to control. Neutrons generated in the process of fission of plutonium have extraordinary velocity.
Light travels 300 thousand kilometers a second, which is equal to a distance of 7.5 times of the Earth’s circumference. If fission occurs with a speed of several percent of that of light, neutrons reach to the other side of the globe in a second. Neutrons are used to fission plutonium. A reactor which uses high-speed neutrons is called a fast breeder.
Sodium is employed in order to remove heat without reducing speed of neutrons. Sodium is a very hazardous substance and is difficult to manage. If it touches with air, it burns, and if it is watered, it explodes. It generates sodium hydroxide, which has a high corrosion effect to melt iron down.
A fast breeder reactor uses plutonium and sodium to generate electricity. Many people had pointed out that it is impossible to convert Uranium 238 to Plutonium 239.
However, those who were confident enough in the conversion were successful to gain a big budget from the government to build up the reactor Monju. Consequently, it has been proven that full operation is impossible. Thus, the decommissioning plan is a matter of course.
Nevertheless, the state government maintains to commit in a fast breeder program. Sodium is the only means to control high-speed neutrons. Risks remain. Advocates pretend to design a model different from that of the Monju so that the state government may allocate tax money.
They propose to work it on in France if it is harder in Japan. In France, however, the fast breeder programs for Phoenix and Super-Phoenix have been abandoned. Those advocates insist on the ASTRID (=Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration), in which nobody could trust.
It is right to decommission the Monju. The government should decide on total withdrawal from the fast breeder program, too. If it did so, a nuclear fuel cycle set-up would be unnecessary. The reprocessing plant of spent fuel project at Rokkasho-mura, Aomori Prefecture, must be given up, too, as it is costly and dangerous.
Let’s Join Legal Action!
The Monju program was preliminarily decided by the government in 1968, and investigative works began at the site, Shiraki District, in 1970 after obtaining approvals from the authorities of Tsuruga City and Fukui Prefecture. Opposing civic organizations of the city and the prefecture were organized in 1976. It is over 40 years now. Finally, the government made a decommission decision. The opposition groups are determined to continue struggling so that a dangerous reactor may not be constructed again.
The second-round of Monju litigation constitutes part of civic resistance. The 6th Hearing is scheduled at 14:00 on March 8, 2017, at Court No.103, Tokyo District Court. Your attendance in the oral proceedings is highly appreciated.
February 14, 2017