Japan has scrapped plans to generate electricity at a multi-billion dollar experimental nuclear reactor, the government said Monday, giving up on the decades-old project due to spiralling costs.
Once touted as a “dream reactor,” the Monju facility was designed to generate more fuel than it consumes via nuclear chain reaction, an attractive alternative in a country with few natural resources.
But its complex fast breeder reactor technology has been plagued with problems that have left it idle for more than a decade. It has also been a financial black hole since construction began in 1986, given its initial 1 trillion yen ($8.5 billion) construction cost and daily operating costs of 50 million yen, even while shut down.
While some local governors in Japan have opposed the restart of reactors, not all are opposed due to the economic benefits and jobs nuclear technology brings.
The Fukui government, for example, has been cooperative, partly in return for financial rewards from Tokyo.
Despite the decision to scrap Monju, the government has not completely given up on fast breeder technology.
The area around the Monju facility will be turned into a research centre for nuclear technology, including plans to explore a different type of fast breeder reactor, according to the ministry.
It will remain “a long term project” that will also involve cross-border joint research, it said.
Read more at Japan pulls plug on troubled fast breeder reactor