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Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency recently reported that the problems with the Monju prototype fast breeder reactor in Tsuruga, dating from last August have been resolved, with officials hopeful to resume test runs of the facility at some point in the autumn.
In the wake of the 11 March disaster at Fukushima, Japan Atomic Energy Agency officials are uncertain as to whether the country's nuclear fuel recycling project, in which the Monju prototype would play a key role, will proceed as planned, Kyodo news agency reported.
A crane was used to lift a 3.3-ton device used for loading fuel, which slipped and fell inside the reactor vessel last August while it was being lifted out after completing a fuel exchange. Two months later, an attempt to retrieve the device failed after it had become deformed and became trapped. Complicating retrieval efforts, part of the device was soaked in a sodium coolant that could catch fire after coming in contact with air.
Japan Atomic Energy Agency hopes to resume test runs of the reactor at 40 percent of its output capacity as soon as possible, aiming for full operation by the end of March 2014. Concerns have been expressed that because the Monju reactor is to produce plutonium from nuclear waste, were it to experience a leak accident, the hazards could be significant.
By. Joao Peixe, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com