Monju operator skipped inspections of another 2,300 devices

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.