Secret history of Japan’s plutonium buildup

United States Circumvented Laws To Help Japan Accumulate Tons of Plutonium, DC Bureau By Joseph Trento, on April 9th, 2012“…….From the very start, the Japanese breeder program was predicated on the belief that Japanese industry could do what the Americans and Europeans had failed to do – run the extremely complicated breeder cycle safely and profitably. That belief was rooted in Japan’s national self-confidence, nurtured by two generations of success in manufacturing. Japan’s dedicated and educated workforce and its special brand of quality management made it the world leader in a host of industries. Nuclear power generation would, it was believed, merely be one more success, made possible by Japan’s superior workers and management.
Thirty years ago even Japan’s harshest critics might have agreed that perhaps it could succeed where Western efforts had failed. But that optimism soon faded as a string of nuclear catastrophes demonstrated that nuclear industries are far different than any other. Both the Monju fast-breeder reactor in 1995 and the Tokai reprocessing plant in April 1997 suffered serious, accidental radiation leaks; both accidents were the subjects of attempted cover-ups. Most egregious was the fire and leak of radioactive sodium at the Monju FBR. Japan’s Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation (PNC), the government corporation that operated Monju, lied repeatedly to the public about the accident. PNC attempted to suppress video footage that showed the cause of the accident: a ruptured pipe in a secondary cooling system that had spilled an estimated two to three tons of radioactive sodium – the largest such leak in the history of fast-breeder technology. One of the reasons PNC gave for releasing the misinformation was that Monju was too important to Japan’s energy program to jeopardize the reactor’s operation. In other words, the public’s safety was secondary to the breeder program.

Had it not been for a courageous act by a group of Fukui prefecture officials in the early morning of December 11, PNC’s attempted cover-up probably would have succeeded. Suspecting a cover-up, the officials entered the plant and secured the videotape. The action came as a direct result of a previous accident at Fukui’s Tsuruga Unit I reactor in the early 1980s. Fukui prefecture officials were not permitted to investigate that mishap. When the Monju accident took place, the officials were determined not to be turned away a second time. Following revelations that the agency itself had been involved in trying to withhold the video, a PNC executive committed suicide……. http://www.dcbureau.org/201204097128/national-se

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