Japan considers shutting down Monju fast-breeder reactor

The Japanese government is considering closing down the Monju prototype fast breeder reactor. The reactor, which was restarted in May 2010 after a 14-year shutdown caused by a major sodium leak and a fire, suffered another accident shortly after restart, in August 2010. The 3-tonne piece of equipment that fell into the reactor vessel was removed on June 24, 2011; however, the degree of damage to the vessel was yet to be determined. According to earlier estimates, the reactor was expected to resume operations after 2014. The future of the Monju reactor has been questioned after the incident at the Fukushima power plant.

(For the background of Japan's breeder reactor program, see IPFM research report Fast Breeder Reactor Programs: History and Status.)