23 Mars 2016
March 23, 2016
A Tokyo court has begun hearing arguments in a lawsuit filed by residents seeking to revoke a government permit for a prototype fast breeder reactor in Fukui Prefecture. The facility has been mostly idle since an accident in 1995.
Some 100 residents of Fukui and neighboring prefectures filed the suit to demand that Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority cancel its permit for Monju.
They accused the reactor's operator, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, of incompetence, and cited risks of serious accidents triggered by earthquakes or tsunami.
At the Tokyo District Court on Wednesday, plaintiff Fukiko Ikejima said Monju has been idle for about 20 years, and that the government's nuclear fuel recycling program has failed.
The government countered that the dangers claimed by the plaintiffs are abstract, and that no risk of grave damage could be found. It asked the court to dismiss the case.
Last November, the Nuclear Regulation Authority asked the science minister to replace the reactor's operator, citing lax safety management. A ministry panel is discussing the matter.
Monju was expected to be part of Japan's nuclear fuel recycling system. The reactor was designed to produce more fuel than it consumes.