(Source) http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/nuclear-regulation-authority-bars-restart-of-monju-fast-breeder-nuclear-reactor May 30, 2-13
The Nuclear Regulation Authority on Thursday handed the Japan Atomic Energy Agency an official notice prohibiting restart of the company’s Monju fast-breeder nuclear reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.
The written order was handed to JAEA executive vice president Yonezo Tsujikura, instructing the company to improve its safety measures. The trouble-plagued next-generation test reactor has been cited for numerous safety violations.
Monju uses plutonium fuel instead of conventional uranium and produces radioactive substances that can be reused as fuel. After nearly 50 years in the works, the reactor is still struggling to get online.
The watchdog’s five commissioners unanimously agreed that JAEA is not ready to sufficiently secure the safety of Monju. They said the operator had repeatedly failed to conduct mandatory inspections on an array of equipment and come up with improvement plans.
The previous government tried to terminate Monju under its nuclear phase-out plan, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government quickly reversed course as it pushed to restart commercial reactors that have been idle since a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Before issuing the order, Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman Shunichi Tanaka told reporters that Monju’s operator lacked a “safety culture” and deserved severe action.
“They repeated the same mistakes even though they said they were analyzing the root cause of the problem. I think they lack fundamental understanding about safety,” Tanaka said. “Despite the lessons we learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident, it seems a safety culture is still insufficient in Japan.”
Japan built Monju as a “dream reactor” to fulfill its energy needs, with the reactor meant to be a centerpiece of a self-sustainable fuel cycle. To complete the cycle, Japan has been building the Rokkasho fuel recycling plant in northern Japan to extract uranium and plutonium from spent fuel and fabricate hybrid fuel made from the two radioactive elements.
But with both Monju and Rokkasho having technical problems, Japan has built up a large stockpile of plutonium extracted overseas and at home, causing international proliferation concerns.
Regulators who inspected Monju said its top management lacked safety-first principles, and workers were demoralized without prospects for a startup. Their interviews with plant workers also revealed they had to keep inspection and maintenance records using massive amounts of paperwork instead of a computer database, and they were always on deadline to meet a test run schedule.
“It’s too dangerous for Monju to start operation now,” said Yasushi Morishita, the watchdog’s director of nuclear regulation. “The plant was so poorly managed.”
Now we know the danger of radioactive waste, we can't keep to put it away. .......
*Maintenance cost of Rokkasho (Reprocessing plant) is ￡1.8 million a day.
*Japan is in possession of over 40 tons of plutonium. One source said Japan would try to restart Moxed fuel reactors to justify keeping them in the near future.