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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 December 7 - 13  > Abe gov’t must withdraw from nuclear fuel cycle
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2016 December 7 - 13 [POLITICS]
editorial 

Abe gov’t must withdraw from nuclear fuel cycle

December 7, 2016
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The Abe government has published an outline draft for a project to develop fast reactors. It will compile a road map for the project by 2018 in which the fast-breeder reactor “Monju” (Fukui Prefecture) will stop its operation and play a role as an experimental facility for promoting the nuclear fuel cycle and developing another fast reactor.

The publication of the draft indicates that the government intends to cling to recycling spent nuclear fuel and push ahead with the development of more nuclear power plants by ignoring the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns and the failure of the Monju project.

The fast-breeder reactor “Monju” has repeatedly had accidents and troubles, such as a sodium leakage and a fire. Obviously, both the government’s fast-breeder reactor policy and its nuclear fuel cycle project have failed dismally.

One reason why the government sticks to the nuclear fuel cycle is that it wants to lay the groundwork for putting idled nuclear power plants back online.

At present, about 18,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel are stored in Japan. Once nuclear power plants resume operations, the amount of spent nuclear fuel will increase. Each nuclear power plant’s storage capacity will reach its maximum limit within six years on average if measures to dispose spent fuel are not found. This hinders the government’s intent to continue its policy supporting nuclear power generation. In order to cover up this inconvenient fact, the government is trying to describe used nuclear fuel as “resources” and not “waste”.

In the first place, nuclear fuel reprocessing is hazardous because of the possibility of causing a fire, an explosion, or a critical accident due to the use of strong acids to extract radioactive materials from fuel rods. There is no need to spend a vast amount of taxpayer money to continue the dangerous project to reprocess used nuclear fuel. Plutonium is used to produce nuclear weapons. Among nations other than the nuclear weapons states, Japan is the only nation having a large scale nuclear reprocessing facility for commercial use.

The Abe administration should decommission fast-breeder reactor Monju and withdraw from the nuclear fuel reprocessing policy.

The resolution of the issue of how to deal with used nuclear fuel requires serious study and the establishment of a national consensus. The government policy to restart nuclear power plants, which will lead to an increase in the amount of spent fuel, is totally irresponsible. The government should put an end to the NPP reactivation and immediately shift to a “zero”-nuclear policy.

Past related articles:
> Gov’t considering decommissioning fast-breeder reactor ‘Monju [September 16, 2016]
> Frequent troubles occurred at fast-breeder reactor ‘Monju’ [May 13, 2010]
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