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Problem plagued nuclear reactor called world’s most dangerous via ABC News

Japan’s Monju nuclear reactor was supposed to be a model of power generation in the future, but it’s had many problems and in two decades it’s only generated one hour’s worth of electricity.

EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: It’s supposed to be the future of nuclear power generation, a reactor that produces its own fuel in a self-sustaining cycle. Known as Monju, the reactor on the country’s west coast is held up as the saviour of a nation without energy resources. But Monju has been plagued with problems and many call it the most dangerous reactor in the world. In part two of his series on Japan’s so-called nuclear alley, North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy was given an exclusive look inside Monju.

MARK WILLACY, REPORTER: People frolic in its shadow, a reactor its critics call the most dangerous in Japan. The name Monju comes from one of Buddha’s chief attendants, a purveyor of enlightenment depicted resting on the back of a lion, a beast whose phenomenal powers are controlled only by Monju’s wisdom.

But opponents of this prototype reactor fear its operators do not have the wisdom to harness its enormous energy.

KEIJI KOBAYASHI, FAST-BREEDER REACTOR EXPERT (voiceover translation): If a meltdown happens, it will get out of control very quickly. If the reactor core was to melt, the explosive energy would produce a blast like a nuclear bomb.

FUKIKO IKEJIMA, ‘STOP MONJU’ GROUP (voiceover translation): If a big accident were to happen, the impact would not stop in Japan, but spread around the world. It is our most dangerous reactor.

MARK WILLACY: And this is one of the reasons many Japanese fear Monju, because it uses sodium to cool a reactor, the substance that can ignite upon contact with oxygen. In 1995, a sodium leak at Monju caused a serious fire, one that resulted in the plant being out of operation for 15 years.

Lateline was given an exclusive tour of Monju, including an interview with the plant’s director-general, Satoru Kondo.

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