Friday, January 20, 2012

NISA Hid Fast Breeder "Monju" Trouble for Over a Month

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency's excuse is that the operator, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, did make an announcement of the trouble "locally" - probably meaning the municipality where the fast breeder is located.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (1/20/2012):


Trouble at Monju, cause unknown. May further spur the debate whether to continue the project


The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry instructed the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) to investigate the cause of malfunction at the driving mechanisms for the control rods at the JAEA's fastbreeder "Monju" (in Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture), and to come up with measures to prevent it from happening again.


According to NISA, the malfunction happened on December 12. Of the 19 driving mechanisms for the control rods, one mechanism didn't work at all when they conducted the test to verify the mechanisms were working. When tested again 2 days later, the mechanism worked. However, there is another mechanism that didn't work [and didn't work in the 2nd test]. JAEA says they will disassemble the mechanism in order to identify the cause.


As to why the disclosure was so late, NISA explained that the control rods were all in, and JAEA did announce locally. The control rods are all inserted, and the Monju reactor is safe at this time. However, the government has been reviewing its nuclear policies in the aftermath of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, including whether to continue the Monju project. The trouble this time may spur the debate.

Not just the malfunction trouble, but the fact that the regulatory agency NISA felt it was OK to wait for more than one month to announce the problem should raise alarm.

NISA's press release on January 20 states that JAEA must report back to the Agency by February 29.


Atomfritz said...

This comes just handy to remember the cover-up of the 1995 Monju sodium fire and the falsification of the videographic recording of the accident.

We should be _really_ wary why we only got one minute of more than one hour video coverage of the Fuku reactor #2 intestines.

Anyway, regarding Monju:
Stuck control rods are an indication of a very deteriorated state of a nuclear installation (swelling, bending).

This risk of control rods getting stuck was one of the reasons why the British shut down the Calder Hall reactors (inaugurated 1956) after 47 years of operation.

But if this happens in a reactor that has operated for only three years, like Monju, this demonstrates the inability of the Japanese nuclear industry.

This is even more ashaming to the Japanese nuke industry if you keep in mind that the Japanese paid the Russians one billion for the blueprints of the Russian BN-600 fast breeder, double as powerful as Monju and operating since 1980 without major problems!

If the Japanese really want a fast breeder, they should scrap Monju and buy a BN-800 from Russia.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Japan wants electromagnetic bullet train right through Japan Alps, and now it wants a CERN equivalent in Tohoku. It is hell-bent on self-destruction.

Anonymous said...

Higgs boson meet corium.

Anonymous said...

Makes sense to delay Monju trouble discovered on Dec. 12. After all, the planned announcement of the so-called "cold shutdown" would be Dec. 16. Just wouldn't look proper to spoil the great announcement with REAL news. And besides, the government had to make its subjects (ie. guinea pigs) believe the illusion that everything was in control before the new year. It's nicer to believe the illusion that 2012 will be a year of bliss than one of genocide in slow motion.

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