The reorganisation of PNC will not, it seems, be taken as an opportunity to back away from FBR development. In a speech to foreign correspondents, the new president of PNC (Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corp), Yasumasa Togo, said that its successor – the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute (JNC) – would continue fast reactor development. Togo will become the first president of JNC which starts operations on 1 October .
The decision to reorganise PNC came after the Monju FBR sodium leak accident in December 1995 and the fire explosion at the Tokai Bitumen Demonstration Facility in March 1997. PNC’s structure was studied by a government commission and a bill to set up the new organisation was passed on 13 May this year.
The new JNC will be a smaller, less centralised organisation than PNC. The current head office divisions will be abolished and some of the functions will be transferred to Tokai and Tsuruga. Public disclosure of information and transparency will be of top priority and are specifically mentioned in the bill.
Togo said JNC’s three main R&D activities would cover:
•Fuel cycle technology related to fast breeder reactors.
• Geological disposal of HLW.
• LWR fuel reprocessing.
JNC will continue FBR research using both the Joyo and Monju reactors; it will also co-operate with Japanese universities and research institutes and with French and Russian organisations.
Togo was, however, unable to say when Monju would restart. As the local authorities must concur, meetings have been held to explain matters to the local people. But so far there has been no clear resolution.
JNC will continue to operate the reprocessing plant at Tokai. While JNC will co-operate with the needs of utilities, the main activity of the plant in future will be to develop techniques for reprocessing high burn-up and spent MOX fuel.