Monju operator lax on inspecting 2,100 other components

Kyodo

The operator of the Monju prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor said Friday it had skipped inspections of another 2,100 components, in the latest sign of its lax safety management.

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency was already found to have failed to conduct inspections at appropriate intervals on nearly 10,000 components, leading nuclear regulators to issue an order in late May effectively prohibiting the trouble-prone reactor from being restarted until remedial steps are taken.

The JAEA, a national research institute, reported the latest blunders during a safety inspection carried out by the Nuclear Regulation Authority between June 3 and Friday.

The 2,100 components include important devices, including a pump for sodium, which is used to extract heat from the reactor core. There were also flaws in descriptions of inspection deadlines for 65 items.

Japan has already spent over ¥1 trillion on the Monju project, hoping the facility would play a key role in the country’s spent-fuel recycling policy.

But the reactor has remained largely offline since first achieving criticality in 1994, due to a 1995 sodium coolant leak, fire and coverup attempt, and other subsequent problems.

Even after being barred from engaging in preparatory work for restarting the reactor, the JAEA announced earlier this month that it had temporarily failed to keep heat in the sodium of the secondary heat transfer system when checking a power supply system.