Japan planning next-generation nuclear reactor for safety reasons

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Nov. 30, 2016 at 3:20 PM
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TOKYO, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Japan is planning the development of a fast neutron reactor, as the country gets ready to decommission the Monju nuclear power plant, which last operated in 2010.

The fourth-generation reactor would operate by controlling the rate at which nuclear chain reactions occur and would be a safer option than the current technology, Japanese television network NHK reported Wednesday.

Tokyo's ministry of economy, science agency and state-owned utility are planning to set a schedule for improvements by 2018, according to the report.

The government is also exploring the possibility of securing technology that could handle the sodium used in reactors, while cooperating with countries like France at sites such as the Joyo nuclear reactor in Ibaraki.

The construction and operation of a fast reactor could take about 10 years, according to NHK.

Both the existing fast-breeder reactor and the fourth-generation reactor create chain reactions in systems with no significant differences, but in the case of Monju, operations also require the input of uranium and plutonium oxide as nuclear fuels.

Japan's ministries are also supporting the decommissioning of Monju in 30 years. Decommissioning is to begin in fiscal 2017, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun.

In 1995, a liquid sodium leak resulted in a fire at Monju, the report says.

Decommissioning Monju is expected to cost Japan $2.6 billion, according to an estimate from 2012.

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