Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Monju Fast Breeder Ready to Restart in Fukui Prefecture in Mid July

(The horror, the horror...)

The troubled fast breeder that has cost a fortune just to maintain (sort of) over the past 30 years is now ready to restart, after the IVTM (In-Vessel Transfer Machine) that had fallen into the reactor in August of 2010 was finally removed in June last year after two failed attempts.

Just like Ooi Nuclear Power Plant (and couple of other plants in the same area), Monju is accessible by land by only one road, which ends at Monju. There are faults running under the plant, as the Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency says it will review the faults in and around all the nuclear power plants in Japan.

NISA is on the way out, as the regulation of the nuclear industry will fall on the yet-to-be-created regulatory agency and adjunct commissions of experts and politicians.

Remember also that this reactor uses liquid sodium as coolant, which ignites on contact with air.

From Asahi Shinbun Fukui local version on June 22, 2012:


Monju to be restored next month [July]


Fast breeder "Monju" (in Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture), whose operation has been suspended due to numerous problems, is expected to be fully restored in mid July. Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) showed the restoration work to the press on June 21, demonstrating the equipment, newly installed after the accident [of the IVTM dropped inside the reactor], operated normally.


At Monju, the In-Vessel Transfer Machine that is used to replace nuclear fuel fell inside the reactor in August 2010, and the test operation was halted. The plan was to restart the operation by the end of March this year, but the restoration work has taken longer.


On June 21, as the workers at JAEA and the plant manufacturers looked on, two personnel from the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization (JNES) confirmed the newly replaced IVTM worked. They will confirm the operation of the electro-magnetic brakes attached to the control rods, and the test operation is set to resume in mid July.

Monju's operation has been nothing but "test operation" for nearly 20 years (the reactor achieved criticality in April of 1994), and for the most part it has been idle because of seemingly endless problems. The biggest of all was the leak of liquid sodium coolant that resulted in fire at the plant in December of 1995, but what was at issue was not so much of the fire incident itself. The Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation, who was running the plant at that time, downplayed the accident and hid the information of the accident.

More than anything else, the loss of credibility was what stopped Monju operation until March 2010, when the NISA deemed the reactor was "appropriately safe". The governor of Fukui set about restarting the plant. It reached the criticality in May 2010, only to have the IVTM dropped into the reactor 3 months later.

Here's the Google map of Monju location. Scroll to the northeast direction, you see Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant which has Japan's oldest boiling water reactor and pressurized water reactor. A known active fault runs through the middle of that plant, and Reactor 2 may be sitting right on top of yet another potentially active fault. You also see a landfill over the mountain from Tsuruga Nuke Plant. That's where they are building Reactor 3 and 4. (You have to admire the dare.)

View Larger Map


Anonymous said...

All these nuclear plants are upwind from the high population areas. There will be meltdowns if any nuclear plants are running. Even if they are not running, there can be fuel pool fires. Breeder reactors will surely be the end of Japan as you know it. The people of Japan must stop every reactor from ever restarting. No nuclear Japan NOW!

Stock said...

Constitution of USA, Read It, Its simple

Links to the Constitution and Amendments and AoC

Happy 4th!

You can read all the docs below in less than 1 hour. Misinformation is rampant concerning these basic laws of the US. Read them, you will be really glad you did. In fact these documents are so simple that a group of high school students, would be able to read and interpret them and apply them to real situations, maybe with just a little help by an older person to provide some historical context and explanation of an older version of English, however for the most part the language used is 97% exactly the same as today.

Anonymous said...

France was also operating a sodium cooled reactor (Superphoenix) but it gave up after a string of accidents. US has effectively given up this type of reactor since the days of Jimmy Carter presidency. Why is Japan insisting on such a dead end?
Why would anyone operate a npp that produces more Plutonium that it consumes?
Why would anyone operate a madness like a plant that uses metallic sodium?
Sodium burns spontaneously in air and explodes in contact with water.

Steve From Virginia said...

Hard to see the point of starting Monju again when there is no way to effectively refine the plutonium it produces. The Rokkasho plant has never operated and has cost additional US$20bln.

Japan Nuclear is a Frankenstein bureaucracy, with no mind, no off-switch. The entire plutonium breeding cycle operation is defunct. Best to pull the plug on these facilities and stop throwing good funds after bad.

What Monju produces is a form of nuclear spent fuel: Japan has millenias worth: thousands of tons of spent fuel already. Spend the billion needed for Monju and the Rokkasho billions on clearing out Dai-ichi instead, ending the threat rather than adding new ones.

Anonymous said...

"Why would anyone operate a npp that produces more Plutonium that it consumes?"

The "Plutonium economy" is the atomic priesthood's cornerstone of future nuclear development. It is a little known fact that the amount of U235 available for economical extraction is a finite resource that is becoming less plentiful everyday. The world's nuclear industry has wasted 50 billion dollars and over 5 decades chasing this Sodium filled holy grail of fission. EBR-1 had accidents that were covered up which lead to the EBR-II which had "operational incidents" that were also covered up which lead to America's first commercial breeder reactor the Fermi-1. It ended in very near disaster this was also for the most part covered up until the book "We Almost Lost Detroit" was published years later. Then along came the Clinch river breeder that hemorrhaged a river of money. It went from $400 million to $1.5 billion Before it was finally canceled in 1983, the General Accounting Office estimated the total project would cost $8 billion to complete.

Intel Agent said...

Breeder reactor is the holy grail of fission technology, the u.s gave up on it and passed all it's knowledge and experience to japan, japan has tried to make breeder reactors work and be a successful model since the late 60's, they have INVESTED TOO MUCH TO FAIL. It is more dangerous than even a mox reactor as you could call the fuel in this sense used mox and the metallic sodium is a catastrophe multiplier, the sodium abrades. corrodes and eats away at everything and that causes damage and leaks, the problem is you can't have leaks with this stuff, BUT IT WILL MAKE THEM, nuclear is truly a fools game, and it seems they "the fools" will triumph.
If you don't like it LEAVE, otherwise you are complacent and funding/facilitating the madness that is present day japan. Your fate is written should you stay.
I'm not pro nuke, but a safer way to make power out of spent fuel is put it in fresh zirconium tubes "the old ones are fatigued and brittle" and then fission it in a candu reactor< a candu will run on ground up repackaged spent fuel and turn the waste into power. A way to fission this waste safely into nothingness/toxicological inertness is the best solution for the world. A breeder with sodium is the most dangerous and ultimately worst way.

Anonymous said...

April 6, 2012 The Cesium Road by Toshio Nishi

4. Few in the mass media, in Japan or abroad, talk about Japan’s biggest nuclear secret: Monju. Named after a Buddhist saint of wisdom, Monju, Japan’s first fast-breeder reactor, squats right on a fault line. Its stated goal is to recycle the nation’s fifteen thousand tons of spent fuel and supply endless energy. But despite swallowing $15 billion of our tax money for its construction, which began on January 5, 1983, Monju has never produced any usable energy, not even for a day. It stands north of our most beautiful ancient city of Kyoto and on the shore of the Sea of Japan. Plutonium, I hear, is lethal for more than twenty thousand years. Nuclear energy is like fire, a good servant but a bad master.

The rest of the article here-

Anonymous said...

If you think the GE BWR system was demonic then this fast breeder reactor will take your breath away with its scale of insanity and madness, its a black hole of money wasted and if that reactor blows Japan is done for, forever..

But with a criminally insane government beurocracy at the wheel in Japan we are getting closer and closer to another serious accident happening again very soon.

Anonymous said...

The so-called leaders of Japan have lost their minds. Completely. National suicide seems to be the only path their myopic little minds can see.

Anonymous said...

We are told Chernobyl was bad because it used graphite, instead of water, as a moderator so when the reactor exploded graphite started burning and helped blowing radioactive fallout over a huge area.
What were the Monju designers thinking when they decided to use not water, not graphite but metallic sodium?

Anonymous said...

Are people clueless over there? How about thorium?
Uranium shouod not be used.
Thorium is the fuel of tomorrow Japan!

Anonymous said...

So what happened to those blackouts they had planned? Has there been any evidence at all that Japan needs the power generated by any of the reactors?

I've been increasingly suspicious of the push to blanket the planet with reactors. It feels as though we don't actually need that many. It's like how when they first discovered radium they tried selling all sorts of products using it - crap that nobody really needed, and didn't do what was advertised. That's why I hate capitalism and consumerism.

Dr. Bob said...

The Japan Times ran a story today (or was it yesterday?) saying that Monju would not be restarted. So this post comes as a big surprise to me. It would seem to indicate, if true, that the "complete the nuclear fuel cycle" crowd and their nationalist allies are still in the driver's seat. That these people are stone stupid is now clearer than ever. But this is the Japanese way: when you've painted yourself into a corner, push harder and harder, never give up, ganbaru to the bitter end. This is especially true for stone headed old men. This is the sort of thing that forces people to advocate what Clarence Darrow referred to as direct action.

Anonymous said...

America just had over one million people wihout power for over a week by the way! Never dare that happen over in Asia!

Anonymous said...

Fusion energy is also the the future of energy. ITER!

Janick in Tokyo said...

(To Anonymous,at 5:26 and to everyone)
It's terrible but France is about to start over and do the same mistake as with SUPERPHOENIX, in the town of MARCOULE (South France) with ASTRID, a 4th generation fast breeder reactor with metallic sodium coolant.
It's already agreed upon between the CEA (the national Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique) and Bouygues, a huge private construction corporation which made itself infamously known for several scandals, particularly for its sloppy job at the FLAMANVILLE nuclear plant (where they put more stones than concrete in the SFP -- spent fuel pool -- and in the reactor walls, and now the stones are popping out and falling down, leaving huge holes behind... They also made hollow pillars and left all kinds of unidentified waste in the SFP...)
Link in French on this topics in the newspaper Le Monde (August 2011):

The ASTRID project is due to be implemented in 2017 (one year later than initially planned, maybe in view of the presidential elections of 2012 and 2017) and will be operational possibly by year 2020-21.
(Wikipedia link only in French and Swedish, sorry

Anonymous said...

Japan only needs 15 max number of reactors not 53! 53 is asinine.

Government has come up with three energy options.
Second option is the most sensible one 15% power by nuclear, using thorium and fusion duh not rocket science. Uranium forget it!Thorium people thorium geeze!
First option would mean a third world nation for sure

Janick in Japan said...

Japan is suicidal and, worse, as someone else said before, it is led by old stoned head guys of the kind who sent brave young boys to their death as kamikaze. It's frightening.
Tell me WHY do men in all our countries (Japan, France, USA, Russia...)become so pushy with nuclear energy ??? There is something strange here, something about power, about being naughty and forceful, something about arrogance and contempt towards the weak, the peaceful, the quiet, towards women and families.Is it all again the warlike instinct at play ????

Anonymous said...

So genius you have a smart energy solution to power the likes of China lol? Yeah good luck there brother!
No natural resources um excuse me energy is a necessity of life otherwise be a dead economy. No energy no life!

Anonymous said...

Korea pushy about nuclear moreso than U.S and their population is just 45 million for cry sakes.

Anonymous said...

Also can America red uce reliance on nuclear power too? Impossible!Again I repeat Thorium!

Anonymous said...

Just like oil nuclear power rakes in the cash Every city with nuclear power plant is swimming in the money duh! No way elese to make the money except what fishing haha.

Anonymous said...

Tsuruga is making money big time! Just look at their fireworks show!
Use thorium and we will be just fine!

Anonymous said...

Thorium, Thorium.... Do you mean like the THTR-300 that was supposed to be so safe that it didn't have any form of containment? They tried to cover up their accident by claiming the emissions were from the Chernobyl accident but they got caught.

Or do you mean the MSR that also had an accident?

This is a write up of a covered up nuclear reactor accident that I witnessed while working for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the mid-1980's. The nuclear criticality accident involved an old reactor called The "Molten Salt Reactor Experiment," AKA "MSRE" or ORNL Bldg. 7303. This reactor used UF-4 type fuel and used none of the metal oxide and zirconium fuel element cladding as in the classical design case for reactors. The fuel in this reactor was a molten liquid that circulated into and out of the reactor core. The reactor fuel salt was the heat transfer medium. The fission fuel in use when the reactor was closed was U-233 from the thorium breeder cycle. U-233 is very similar to Pu-239 in radioactivity, health danger, and weapons uses.

see more at link

Anonymous said...

No energy no life!

No energy means no first world nation!
Third World Nation at best!

No wonder Korea and China are getting richer there brother.

Japan is one lazy country I see!

Anonymous said...

No npps does not mean no energy: Cina budget for win power is a multiple (10 times?) than nuclear. On the other hand Japan has a severe demographic problem that some say could place it in a 3rd world position by 2050; a little more hot (less airconditioned) summer might help here too :)

Anonymous said...

You don't see China and USA getting all paranoia and you don't see them throwing up their hands like weaklings and giving up on NPPs.
They actually use their brain!

Anonymous said...

We should ask ourselves! are there better energy methods than NPPs? What about fusion energy?

Anonymous said...

For demographic issue people are living past 100.We need to make more babies to keep up up with the aging world.

m a x l i said...

@Thoriumfriend who posted here 10 (?) times:
When thoughts come in rapid sequence, in very small portions each time, are not solid and smell of shill - it probably is some form of mental diarrhoea. You should see a doctor!

Atomfritz said...

Monju exploding and blazing away like Chernobyl could be a real disaster compared to Fukushima.
Let's hope it won't happen.
Please keep reporting about Monju "affairs", too... Many many thanks again!

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