Govt Eyes Restart of Helium Gas N-reactor

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency on Wednesday applied for a Nuclear Regulation Authority examination to decide whether a next-generation experimental nuclear reactor should be put back into operation. The High Temperature Engineering Test Reactor in the town of Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture, eastern Japan, has an output capacity of 30,000 kilowatts, according to the government-backed agency.No active fault runs under the ground where the facility is located, the agency said, adding that none of the important equipment of the reactor would sustain major damage even if the reactor were hit by a big earthquake that causes ground motion of up to 700 gals. The facility stands 36.5 meters above sea level, against the maximum assumed tsunami height of 17 meters, the agency said. In the basic energy policy plan adopted in April, the government stated that Japan will promote research and development of the next-generation reactor. An education and science ministry panel has also sought an early restart of the facility. The reactor uses helium gas as the coolant. The country’s commercial light-water reactors are cooled with water. The next-generation reactor is said to be safer than light-water reactors. It is still uncertain when the new one will be put into practical use, however. The test facility was halted for a checkup in February 2011, the month before a huge earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, triggering a nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power station

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