Photo/IllutrationThe Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, on Dec. 2 (Taku Hosokawa)

At least 375 billion yen ($3.2 billion) will be needed over 30 years to decommission the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor in Fukui Prefecture, according to a government estimate revealed on Dec. 19.

The mind-numbing estimate and time frame were announced by the government's committee for fast reactor development.

The committee’s proposed plan is to start decommissioning from 2017 and spend five and half years removing spent nuclear fuel from the problem-plagued reactor and complete the entire process in 2047.

The government also met with Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa at the science and technology ministry building in Tokyo later the same day and passed on its intention to decommission the Monju reactor without a restart.

At the meeting, Nishikawa met with science and technology minister Hirokazu Matsuno, and trade minister Hiroshige Seko.

Matsuno told the governor that Monju will “be transferred to the decommissioning process without being restarted.”

He asked for understanding that the government will continue the development of fast reactors, which burn plutonium retrieved from spent fuel produced at nuclear power plants, and plans to construct another reactor for study purposes near the Monju reactor as a research base.

The government plans to finalize the decision to decommission Monju at a meeting of Cabinet members involved in nuclear energy policy, which is expected to be held Dec. 20 or later.

The estimated breakdown of the decommissioning costs are 225 billion yen for the maintenance cost of the facility until the completion of the process; 135 billion yen for deconstruction and other related costs; and 15 billion yen for preparation for the removal of spent fuel.