The Rokkasho plant was meant to be the “nucleus” of the nation’s nuclear fuel recycling program of the future, with the purpose of minimizing nuclear waste by reusing spent fuel. The reprocessed fuel was to be burned in fast-breeder reactors, but efforts to develop a viable fast-breeder reactor have gone nowhere. Attempts to use the reprocessed fuel in conventional nuclear reactors have also stalled. The whole project has effectively become a proverbial pie in the sky. But neither the government nor utilities would acknowledge this reality and review the project, apparently because they fear the issue of nuclear waste will become the focus of attention. I wonder how long they are going to keep their heads in the sand without addressing the thorny problem of how to dispose of nuclear waste. Here’s a riddle: What cannot be seen when your eyes are open, but can be seen when your eyes are closed? The answer is a dream. Where the nuclear fuel recycling program is concerned, I imagine the nation’s nuclear community must be dreaming or hallucinating.
Asahi Shimbun 15th May 2020 read more »