In the meantime, annual maintenance outlays of an estimated 50 million yen are going to be required for the RETF, which will likely give rise to public controversy about the cost effectiveness of completing the RETF.
The total cost of building the RETF was originally budgeted at 120 billion yen.
The RETF constitutes part of the project, in which the Monju fast-breeder reactor is supposed to produce more plutonium than it consumes through use of plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology argues that the RETF cannot be scrapped and that a minimum amount in maintenance costs should continue to be disbursed.
On the other hand, a source close to the issue points out that the work on the EETF went ahead faster than the work on the Monju so the agency halted the construction of the RETF abruptly in 2000.
While the ministry emphasizes the need for fuel-reprocessing research, another source said, ''If the fast-breeder reactor becomes usable only in the far distant future, making do without the RETF could become an option.
According to the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the construction work on the RETF began in January 1995 but it was put on hold in June 2000 following a sodium coolant leak from a worn-out thermometer at the Monju prototype reactor in Fukui Prefecture in December 1995 and a 1997 explosion at the fuel reprocessing plant at Tokaimura.
RETF would be the leading-edge facility for such work.
RETF was interested in liquid hydrogen as a rocket fuel.
For example, the decision to use hydrogen to power the upper stage in the Saturn rockets was primarily due to missionary work by RETF personnel.