Supreme court gives the green light to Monju reactor

Overturning a lower court ruling, the Supreme Court on May 30 gave the green light for the government to resume the operation of the Monju experimental fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.

Maintaining that "No unacceptable flaws or faults existed in the (government's) safety assessment for approval of the establishment of the reactor," the top court rejected the lower court decision that supported the plaintiffs' claim pointing out that there were faults in the safety assessment of the facility which was run only several months by the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute.

This lawsuit was filed by residents in 1985 against the state demanding that it nullify its approval of constructing the fast-breeder reactor.

The operation of the Monju facility has been discontinued since December 1995 when it caused a massive sodium coolant leak and a fire.

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Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi said on the same day that the Supreme Court ruling was "very unjustifiable."

Ichida pointed out that the setting up of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency in charge of safety measures of nuclear power reactors under the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry is quite extraordinary and that other Western nations have abandoned similar projects because they are too costly and have risks of highly radioactive leaks.

Ichida demanded that the government discontinue its nuclear cycle policy while giving safety priority.

The plaintiffs and their lawyers jointly issued a statement, criticizing the ruling for blindly following the state's nuclear power policy, inappropriate for a top judicial body, and for neglecting to ensure safety in making a basic design for the reactor.

They expressed their determination to continue to struggle until the dangerous test reactor Monju will be scrapped. - Akahata, May 31, 2005

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