Japan - Plutonium Investigation n°2

New Delays in Schedules ?

After delays in the fast-breeder and the reprocessing industry programs, due mostly to the accidents at the Monju fast-breeder and the Tokai-mura reprocessing plant (See further), there seems to be a general questioning of the viability of the entire plutonium program. There has also been local opposition to the use of MOX fuel, notably from local governments.

The national government has requested the reorganisation of the research institution, PNC, which has lost much credibility with cover-ups after the two accidents at Monju and Tokai. PNC has started negotiations with private-sector entities on partial transfer of its commercial fuel-cycle technologies and resources. PNC will continue with research and development activities, on FBR's, FBR fuel fabrication and reprocessing facilities and the disposal of high-level radioactive waste. At the beginning of July 1997, a committee set up by the government to recommend measures to be respected by PNC stated that commercial activities should be entirely transferred to the private sector. It also stated that the Japanese designed advanced thermal reactor (Fugen) was to be abandoned - both the prototype and the demonstration program.

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