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Japan pulls plug on troubled Monju fast breeder reactor


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The government “will not restart (Monju) as a nuclear reactor and will take steps to decommission it,” science minister >>Hirokazu Matsuno told the governor of western Japan’s Fukui Prefecture where it is located.

Now let's start another new black hole money for the decommissioning process.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Guess all the top dogs can't get anymore pocket money so they decided to scrap it. Just another project with tax payers money well spent...... again.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

It's three decades of wasting billions on a pipe dream money pit. This technology was an unproven theory from the early days of nuclear technology that Japan jumped on with yen signs in their eyes. The saddest thing is, at the time, the international nuclear physicists said it would never work. Obviously, they were right!

9 ( +11 / -2 )

60 minutes of power from this leaky sodium-cooled reactor have cost more than 1 trillion Yen!

But never mind; decommissioning it will cost at least another 300 billion yen, more largesse for those companies with snouts in the nuclear village trough. And most people know that estimates and timelines for anything nuclear-related have a tendency to grow at a quicker rate than the radiation decays!

10 ( +11 / -1 )

What a poor decision, you might as well at least attempt to take the project to completion instead of just decommissioning completely. Any experimental technology is going to have costs, but that is the price of innovation. The arbitrariness of the decision is even quite suspicious

-11 ( +0 / -11 )

This kind of financial debacle can only occur when a country's governmental institutions fail to adequately evaluate the feasibility of undertaking such projects, and there is no oversight by independent assessors or the media. The government in Japan has for decades been a slave to special interests in the construction, manufacturing, and financial services sectors, while a single party controlled the fate of the nation and the citizens were worked to exhaustion and systematically deprived by their "education" system of the critical and analytical thinking skills necessary to evaluate the quality of information, information that was, by and large, withheld from the media itself by the government or special interests. The media, being servants of the state and not the people, failed to ask questions, and Japanese democracy withered on the vine. The result is a nation of citizens enslaved for generations to debt caused by a political class that is never held to account.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The project was worth the effort and should have been continued. The technology was safe and sound. The only problem was the lack of public awareness and education.

The major influence was by the world organizations which did not want the technology advanced to a point where the fossil fuel and the current nuclear energy program would lose their value and thus the investment and the profits now being obtained.

Should it have been brought to a successful conclusion, it would be similar to the hydrogen technology which Toyota so gracefully shared FREE with the world.

It would not be a surprise of some nation such as China, France, Germany or even the USA would suddenly declare that they had achieved what this facility would have achieved with much more safety and refinement.

I can only see this as an international political pressure from the energy companies.

I hope I am wrong. However the power of the organized international energy companies are far reaching, just as the global warming issue being touted by the UN to start a carbon tax on those countries emitting such gasses. Interestingly the energy companies are NOT opposed to such a move. Which brings to question why they are not opposed to it?

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

kazetsukai: "The only problem was the lack of public awareness and education."

Ummm... no. Even without public awareness it could have worked, my friend. How does public awareness and education finally get some piece of garbage to work after THIRTY years?

"I can only see this as an international political pressure from the energy companies."

Speaking of lack of education and awareness! This is not an international conspiracy.

"I hope I am wrong."

I don't think you do. Because you ARE wrong -- dead wrong -- but don't seemed the least bit concerned about looking at the facts of the matter. It was an absolute failure that cost 50 MILLION a day for thirty years, and will be another 300,000 billion to decommission, on top of the 1 trillion it took to build. The pressure to shut it down has been from Japanese people, save those who can continue to profit from the machine not working.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The Monju plant lost credibility when after the 1995 sodium fire, it was revealed that Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation (PNC), the semigovernmental agency then in charge of Monju, had tried to cover up the extent of the accident and resulting damage. This coverup included falsifying reports and the editing of a videotape taken immediately after the accident, as well as issuing a gag order that aimed to stop employees revealing that tapes had been edited.

Nearly 20 years later, in 2013, during safety inspections conducted by the NRA between 3 and 21 June 2013, it was revealed that the safety inspections on another 2,300 pieces of equipment had been omitted by Japan Atomic Energy Agency, its new owner. In 2014 more uninspected equipment was discovered, and more than 100 improper corrections to inspection records found, leading to concerns that inspection reports were being falsified. Again in 2015 it was discovered that regular degradation assessments measuring the thickness of sodium cooling pipes had not been carried out since 2007.

This was not a properly managed project, any research findings it managed to discover would be disregarded; it is a shameful example of Japan's Nuclear Village at work.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

It has also been a financial black hole since construction began in 1986, given its initial 1 trillion yen ($8.5 billion) construction cost and daily operating costs of 50 million yen, even while shut down.

30 years of wasteful spending! wow. An Olympic record?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How long will the Japanese public tolerate this insanity...

Japanese public in general are not really strongly against Nuclear despite some setbacks.

There are few reasons why Japanese public in large part support Nuclear. First of all, its about energy independence. They know too well that Nuclear recycling is still one of possibilities that can make Japan more self-reliant in energy.

Second, it's about Nuclear deterrence. It's not that they want to build Nuclear weapons but they want to make sure that no-so-friendly neighbors aware that if Japan wants, she can build ones relatively quickly.

Over all, Nuclear energy served Japan's needs very well for last 50 years despite everything.

I do not see strong desire in Japanese public to dismantle Nuclear energy and technologies. I think they actually WISH their Nuclear energy and technologies to succeed.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Thanks wanderlust, I knew this plant was in commercial operation for a very short time, but wow, less than one hour.

One trillion yen and 50 million yen a day gets you a lot of solar panels. Demand is highest during daytime, but the country also has a fair bit of pumped storage, and err, could always try changing the clocks so people aren't asleep when its bright outside.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Good. Hopefully we can start to see more decommissioning of these crap utilities.

The area around the Monju facility will be turned into a research center for nuclear technology, including plans to explore a different type of fast breeder reactor, according to the ministry.

Idiots!! The area around the Monju facility should be turned into a research center for solar technology. That's what Japan really needs.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I know that many of you are 100% against nuclear power, but Monju was at least a decent idea and nuclear power will continue in other countries. My point is, the Monju was and is still a good idea while the world weans itself off nuclear. My point is this, why did they not seek outside funding?! The USA, India, half of eastern asia is and will build more reactors. Why not get them to help finish the reactor and share the tech with them instead of just throwing away all that time and money. It wasn't a bad idea, it was just an expensive one. If you decommission it at this point, it is 100% money wasted.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

1 Trillion Yen of solar panels each and every year for a decade would still be cheaper than probably two nuclear plants. Spread out across rooftops across the country would eliminate transmission maintenance costs as well. Perfectly flexible disruption protection in an earthquake prone country. And it would get cheaper the more they make and they can work on improving their manufacture. Use molten salt for evening energy storage and ground source heat pumps.

Basically Japan has no need for the oyajis and their brown envelopes holding the country back

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Where else in this world did it work or was attempted to bubble up energy?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It would not be a surprise of some nation such as China, France, Germany or even the USA would suddenly declare that they had achieved what this facility would have achieved with much more safety and refinement.

Highly unlikely but if they do, they will want to monetize their technology Generally, with high risk technologies it is better to let someone else do the heavy lifting. Then, when they have worked the kinks out, you license the technology.

As Renho said in another context, "What's wrong with being number two?"

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Government should provide each house with solar energy panel according to the size and status of house, instead of operating those nuclear energy plants. Would that be cheaper and more efficient?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The comments here are sadly typical. Everybody is eager to call the dreamer a failure and a fool when the dream fails. When the dream succeeds, everybody is eager to praise that same dreamer.

This is what dreamers have to deal with.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Yes a dream reactor. Because you have to be asleep to believe it. (with apologies to George Carlin)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

an attractive alternative in a country with few natural resources.

You can't be serious - it's literally sitting on an ocean of energy

It would not be a surprise of some nation such as ...

Breeder reactors have been around for decades. Fast breeders dominated, most likely because they were a 'great' source of bomb grade plutonium.

Thermal breeders OTOH, in particular LFTR and other thorium cycle designs, are totally different and would be exceptionally attractive 'bridge' energy sources. Possibly even more than 'bridge'. Some great features: they have inherent safety (their default mode is shutdown, not pressurized, not need for containment dome/housing, cannot 'melt down'), no need for fuel rods, simpler reprocessing of the liquid fuel, able to burn current waste from crappy old fashioned LWPR, burn nearly 100% of fuel given them, waste is 2-3 orders of magnitude less than crappy LWPR, worst wast has around 30 year half life (so, in 300 years it would be less than background radiation) - not the 1/4M year crap from LWPR, and they can be built small and more locally located - no need for mind numbing jumbo plants serving massive areas, nor the stunning loss in transmission lines.

The basic ideas (and even proven demonstrators) have been around for 50 years. I will let you guess as to why they were originally 'supressed' (hint above), and why they still get little private sector attention. Some countries public sector have been finally looking back into these things since around 2012, including China and Japan.

China seems to be on a big push for nukes and if they had any sense, they would focus all attention on thorium cycle reactors. If they made great, easy to produce versions, it would be a massive game changer - in several areas.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am totally in favour of nuclear power but Sodium Metal nor any other reactive liquid metal Cooled reactor simply don't make sense- sodium wants to react and it is a management nightmare. The "simple" Pressurised Water Reactor while not inherently safe at least you don't tons of reactive stuff that eats at the materials of the container and doesn't need wides area management- it problems in a compact package.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

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