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Residents file suit to revoke Monju permit

 December 25, 2015

Residents take troubled Monju reactor to court

Dec. 25, 2015 - Updated 11:06 UTC+1




A group of local residents has filed a suit asking Japan's nuclear regulator to revoke the permit for a prototype fast-breeder reactor in Fukui Prefecture.

106 plaintiffs from Fukui and neighboring prefectures brought the case to the Tokyo District Court on Friday.

The prototype fast-breeder reactor Monju was designed to produce more nuclear fuel than it consumes. It was expected to be part of Japan's fuel recycling system. But the reactor has been mostly idle since a leak of its sodium coolant 20 years ago.

In the past few years, the Monju operator has been repeatedly criticized for its lax safety management, such as failing to inspect thousands of items.

Last month the Nuclear Regulation Authority asked the science minister to replace the plant's operator within about 6 months.

The plaintiffs say the current operator, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, lacks the necessary qualifications for a permit to run the plant. They say the reactor should be scrapped.

One of the plaintiffs, Tetsuen Nakajima, said it is not enough for the government just to replace the plant operator in name. He stressed the government should fundamentally reconsider the nuclear plants and fuel recycling policies.

In a similar suit filed in 1985, a high court ruled in favor of the residents. But the Supreme Court rejected the claim.

The nuclear regulator declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying they have yet to receive a letter of complaint.


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