24 Juin 2013
TSURUGA, Fukui Prefecture--The Japan Atomic Energy Agency has been forced to apologize yet again after it emerged that many more pieces of equipment at the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor here were overlooked for inspections.
The agency disclosed June 21 that 12,000 items escaped checks, some 2,000 more than initially announced.
"We apologize for losing trust again," Takehide Deshimaru, deputy head of the Monju plant, said at a news conference.
In May, the Nuclear Regulation Authority ordered the JAEA to suspend preparations for reactivating Monju and to modify its operational safety programs, which lay out protocols for safety controls. The NRA said the JAEA had skipped inspections for 9,847 pieces of Monju equipment since 2010.
The NRA's safety inspections of Monju, which began June 3, spotted the additional 2,000 cases of defaults, the JAEA said.
The latest instances involved key safety equipment, including a circulation pump used to inject sodium to cool the reactor. The NRA is planning a new round of investigations into the matter, as the slipshod checks almost certainly represent a breach of operational safety programs stipulated under the law on the regulation of nuclear reactors.
The JAEA also revised the number of equipment pieces for which inspections had been skipped and were yet to be finished as of the end of March, from some 2,000 to roughly 4,000. It said it will take at least until September to finish all the inspections.
FUKUI, Japan (Kyodo) -- The operator of the Monju prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor said Friday it had skipped inspections of another 2,300 pieces of equipment, in the latest sign of its lax safety management.
The Japan Atomic Energy Agency was already found to have failed to conduct inspections at appropriate intervals on nearly 10,000 devices, leading nuclear regulators to issue an order in late May effectively prohibiting the Monju reactor from restarting until steps are taken to prevent a recurrence.
The JAEA, a national research institute, reported the latest blunders during a safety inspection carried out by the Nuclear Regulation Authority between June 3 and Friday.
Japan has already spent over 1 trillion yen on the Monju project, hoping the facility would play a key role in the country's spent fuel recycling policy.
But the reactor has remained largely offline since first achieving criticality in 1994, due to a sodium coolant leak and other subsequent problems.
Even after being barred from engaging in preparatory work for restarting the reactor, the JAEA announced earlier this month that it had temporarily failed to keep heat in the sodium of the secondary heat transfer system when checking a power supply system.
June 21, 2013
More missed safety inspections discovered at Monju
Some 2,300 additional missed equipment safety inspections have been discovered at the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor on the Sea of Japan coast.
Plant operator Japan Atomic Energy Agency conducted an investigation into the way its inspections were carried out.
The operator says the newly-discovered inspection lapses even involved key safety equipment used to monitor the movement of control rods.
Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority found about 10,000 similar lapses at Monju last month and ordered the operator not to prepare to restart the reactor until its safety can be established.
Japan Atomic Energy Agency says it is extremely regrettable that the revelation of more missed safety inspections has undermined public trust.