Members of the Atomic Energy Commission on Tuesday voiced mixed views over a high court ruling the previous day that nullified the government’s approval in 1983 of the Monju fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.
The Monju reactor, a government-designed prototype, was expected to play a key role in a national policy of using recycled plutonium at fast-breeder reactors.
The 280,000-kilowatt reactor began supplying power in August 1995. It was shut down, however, following a massive sodium coolant leak in December the same year.
The leak sparked a fire, as well as safety concerns among local residents.
During Tuesday’s meeting, committee members Tetsuya Endo and Tetsuo Takeuchi stressed the importance of the fast-breeder reactor program, stating that the government should appeal the Nagoya High Court ruling to the Supreme Court.
But Noriko Kimoto said that the government should “consider from scratch” why it should proceed with its nuclear fuel recycling program, while Akio Morishima said that the general public is now scrutinizing the questions raised by the ruling.
“Even if Monju resumes operations, the ruling will affect (its future),” he said.
Meanwhile, commission Chairman Yoichi Fujiie noted that while the ruling focused on the safety of one particular reactor and not the government’s fuel recycling program as a whole, “government policies cannot be carried out without the public’s understanding and support.”
Earlier in the day, Takeo Hiranuma, minister of economy, trade and industry, said that the government would appeal the high court ruling.
The government has two weeks to appeal.
Hiranuma told his fellow ministers of these plans during informal talks after a morning Cabinet meeting, technology minister Atsuko Toyama told a news conference.
The industry ministry is expected to examine the details of the ruling and make a final decision on whether to appeal in consultation with Toyama’s ministry, the Justice Ministry and the Nuclear Safety Commission.
At various news conferences, other relevant ministers voiced dissatisfaction with the landmark decision, which is expected to make the resumption of the reactor’s work extremely difficult.
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