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EDITORIAL: Reflections on 2 years without nuclear power ahead of planned restarts

Japan has survived without atomic energy for almost two years since all of the country’s nuclear power reactors were taken offline in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
The country rode out summers and winters, despite surges in electricity demand for air-conditioning and heating purposes, with no major blackouts.
The triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which threatened the very survival of the Japanese state, has yet to be brought under control.
Opinion polls show that more than half of the general public is opposed to restarting nuclear reactors. The public’s desire to keep the reactors offline, even at the cost of inconvenience, is due to the fact that people have learned how dreadful atomic energy can be.
However, the Abe administration is seeking a return to nuclear power. It is preparing to restart Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture in August, and aims eventually to have atomic energy account for 20 percent or more of Japan’s electricity mix in the future.
We oppose any return to nuclear power that comes without serious debate. Japan should make utmost efforts to avoid restarts, while at the same time taking care that doing so will not place an onerous burden on people’s living standards. Our energy needs should be centered on renewable energy sources rather than nuclear power as the primary source of electricity.
POWER DEMAND ALREADY COVERED
The Asahi Shimbun published a series of editorials in 2011 calling for a society free of nuclear power.
We stated that all of Japan’s nuclear reactors should be decommissioned, hopefully in 20 to 30 years, with priority given to aged reactors and high-risk reactors. The reactors to be kept alive should be selected on a “safety first” basis and limited to those necessary from the viewpoint of supply and demand.
We also stated that Japan should do its best to develop and spread the use of renewable energy sources while simultaneously pursuing measures for power saving and energy conservation. Thermal power generation could be strengthened as a stopgap measure, although steps should be sought in the long term so that a departure from nuclear energy does not contribute to global warming.
We also said Japan should push forward with power industry reform to encourage new entrants into the market while moving toward a decentralized energy society where wisdom and consumer choice play a greater role.
Our basic ideas remain the same. But the situation has changed over the last four years.
The most dramatic development is that the amount of electricity generated by nuclear reactors is now zero.
Nuclear reactors were up and running across Japan four years ago. They were subsequently taken offline one after another for regular inspections. Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture was reactivated temporarily, but no single nuclear reactor has been brought back online since September 2013.
Despite concerns that were raised, no serious power shortages occurred. Emergency power sources were raked up to stave off a crisis on some occasions, but there has always been sufficient supply to cover demand, partly because the practice of saving power has taken root in the public mind, and partly also because capacities were enhanced at thermal power plants and regional utilities cooperated in supplying power to each other.
But it is too early to say that we have a solid foundation for keeping the number of active nuclear reactors at zero.
The clustered siting of power plants, whereby electricity is sent from large-scale power stations to faraway areas with heavy power consumption areas, has remained unchanged after the nuclear disaster. Systemic vulnerability is still an issue. And there is always the danger of unforeseen circumstances unfolding if a key thermal power plant were to malfunction during peak power demand.
SYSTEMIC VULNERABILITY PERSISTS
The current situation, where thermal power accounts for 90 percent of Japan’s electricity, could hardly be called sustainable. As long as Japan relies on imports for its energy sources, the country will remain permanently exposed to the risk of variations in foreign exchange rates and prices.
We are also left to reflect on the extent to which the general public and the Japanese economy could tolerate additional increases in electricity rates. We have to avoid letting rate hikes, without detailed studies, have a serious impact on people’s living standards and general economic activity.
The risk of a serious impact on people’s lives has yet to be reduced to zero. Given the situation, it is difficult to totally rule out the option of restarting nuclear reactors as a last resort.
However, decisions on restarting individual nuclear reactors must be made with extreme care.
What kind of disadvantage could be averted by activating a particular nuclear reactor? Will a nuclear restart still be necessary after power demand has been covered by a mutual supply of electricity over broad areas? Persuasive explanations should be available from viewpoints such as these.
The nuclear reactor in question must be safe enough from the viewpoint of its geographical location. Means must also be available to allow residents of adjacent areas to evacuate in an emergency. These are obvious preconditions for a nuclear restart.
The fact that we have got along without nuclear power has correspondingly heightened the hurdles for a restart.
Japan, under these circumstances, must develop renewable energy sources as quickly as possible and pursue a shift to a distributed system of electric power. Indispensable to that end are policy initiatives for guiding a switch to the new direction.
The central government should set a pathway for reform and focus its resources on upgrades on the power grid, disposal of nuclear waste and other efforts. There should also be organizational arrangement for pursuing the decommissioning of nuclear reactors, assistance to local governments that will lose revenue from the nuclear plants they host, and transitional measures for business operators associated with nuclear power generation.
FUKUSHIMA DISASTER THE STARTING POINT
The Abe administration, however, is heading in the opposite direction.
It initially said it would reduce Japan’s dependence on nuclear energy as much as possible, but then changed course to maintaining nuclear plants, and left it all up to the Nuclear Regulation Authority to make all decisions on the safety of nuclear reactors ahead of any go-aheads for restarts.
The NRA is tasked only with screening procedures to ensure the safe operation of nuclear power plants. It is not in any way responsible for the entire policy.
The administration told local governments hosting nuclear plants that the central government will be responsible, but what precisely this entails remains to be seen. A mountain of unanswered questions remain about the Sendai nuclear plant, such as measures to ensure the safety of local residents and measures against potential volcanic eruptions.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster should be the starting point for reflecting on the issue of nuclear power generation.
We should think about ways to make the most of the fact that no nuclear reactor is active now.
Source : Asahi Shimbun
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201507300035

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Discharge Canal Contamination Rising in Fukushima Daiichi

Tepco reports that contamination levels in the unit 1 discharge canal has been rising significantly….

*Cesium 137 was at 91,000 bq/liter Beta radiation was at 110,000 bq/liter Both readings taken July 24th.
*Cesium 137 was at 79,000 bq/liter Beta radiation was at 94,000 bq/liter Both readings taken July 22th.
*Cesium 137 was at 28,000 bq/liter Beta radiation was at 36,000 bq/liter Both readings taken July 15th.
*Cesium 137 was at 29,000 bq/liter Beta radiation was at 37,000 bq/liter Both readings taken July 13th.
*Cesium 137 was at 20,000 bq/liter Beta radiation was at 26,000 bq/liter Both readings taken July 10th.
Tepco also admitted that subdrain pit #16 has seen a rise in contamination since May
Why either of these locations are now rising does not yet have a definitive cause. Work to concrete in the sea front trenches at the plant could be pushing contaminated water to take other routes. The freezing in progress of the frozen wall could be having an impact on the migration of contaminated water.

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | 8 Comments

Removal of debris in reactor 3 spent fuel storage to start

Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Sunday will start the removal of a fuel exchanger inside the Number 3 reactor building. The 20-ton device fell into the fuel pool during the 2011 disaster.

The device has since been a major obstacle for workers at Tokyo Electric Power Company in the start of removal of extremely radioactive rubble left in the storage pool. 566 fuel rods remain inside the spent fuel pool.

Workers cannot directly take part in the process as the site is highly radioactive. The work will require 2 remote-controlled cranes that will lift and remove the device, which is some 14 meters long.

The work poses a challenge as spent fuel may suffer damage if the device falls back into the pool during removal.

Workers accidentally dropped a 400-kilogram device into the pool last August. Though none of the rods suffered damage, removal was postponed for 4 months.

TEPCO has been preparing for the removal by developing equipment tailored to grip the device. Cushions have also been placed on top of the fuel rods.

TEPCO officials say all other work to decommission the plant will be suspended while the removal takes place as a hydrogen explosion in 2011 left the pool without a roof.
Source : NHK
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150730_05.html

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima buildings sinking — Structures decaying, getting more unstable

fuk buildings sinking july 29 2015

Tepco handout (pdf), summary translation by Fukushima Diary, Jul 21, 2015 (emphasis added): Tepco announced Fukushima plant area has irregularly sunk since 311… The report reads Reactor 1 turbine building sank by 730 mm [2.40 ft], Reactor 2 by 725 mm, Reactor 3 by 710 mm, Reactor 4 by 712 mm.

IAEA Headquarters (pdf), 2015: We know that the buildings will decay and become less stable… there is the dilemma of 1) gathering more information… and 2) acting earlier and maybe not having enough information to make good decisions.

IAEA Nuclear Energy Series (pdf), 2014: The impact of the salt on the corrosion of structural materials had to be assessed and measures taken accordingly to retain integrity.

Lake Barrett, Tepco adviser (pdf): Reactor building structure has likely been degraded… Explosions Weaken RB Structure… Aftershock May Cause Building Failure — Issues: … Aftershock Structural Integrity… — Safety Challenges: … Containment Degradation

US National Research Council, 2014: Substantial structural damage occurred… particularly Units 3 and 4… The explosions [were] extremely destructive. The complex structure of the lower part of the reactor buildings is well suited to cause flame accelerationIronically, having a strong structure with multiple compartments can greatly enhance the damage… this result, although not intuitive, is now well established.

Kazuhiro Suzuki, IRID managing director (pdf), 2014: Estimation of structural strength decline by sea water inflow; Evaluating device/structural integrity and remaining life…

Sugiura Machine Design Office: We obtained results [using a] flying robot. We already have started to work on plant deterioration investigation with major manufacturer.

IRID 2014 Annual Symposium (pdf):

  • p. 94: Assessing structural integrity of RPV/PCV… data on corrosion rate will be collected… to evaluate aseismatic strength, taking into consideration long-term wall thinning by corrosion… stainless steel [components] may already be cracked
  • p. 95: Overall structural integrityBuilding behavior analysis (building damage simulation)… Influence of corrosion [and] high-temperature strength deterioration
  • p. 98: Structural integrity of PCV structures… Corrosion wall thinning… Estimated thinning of Unit 1 dry well [and] suppression chamber… Generated stress… of the suppression chamber support structures was higher [than allowable]reinforcement (such as burying the torus chamber with cement materials, etc.) will be studied
  • p. 99: Structural integrity of RPV pedestalinfluences of corrosion by molten fuel debris are not taken into account and further study is needed

Shunichi Suzuki, TEPCO, IRID 2014 Annual Symposium:

  • Part 6: “One more important point I need to cite is to assure the stability of the site… because of the presence of the ocean water, corrosion could take placepreventative measures against the corrosion need to be taken.
  • Part 85-87: “Next is assessing structural integrity of RPV and PCV [and] get qualitative data of corrosion rate. There is sea water injected so corrosion may gradually proceed… To be prepared against future possible earthquakes we have to evaluate whether this is tolerant or not… We must consider corrosion.”
  • Part 91: “PCV [integrity] is generally alright, but in some parts — for instance the column support of the suppression chamber — it [doesn’t meet standards].”
  • Part 92: “This is the pedestal of RPV… The molten debris may be causing corrosion.”

Source:

Status of R&D Projects Related to Debris Fuel removal

http://www.svpcloud.jp/systems/st/contents/01193rly/

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | 1 Comment

Tepco’s Quarterly Profit Triples Subsidized by The Japanese Govement at the Expenses of the Taxpayers

Hey Tepco. You have made steady profits since 2012 when the Taxpayers bailed you out. How about you spend that money and DO something about your 3 melting reactors? Or give it to the hundreds of thousands of people whos lives you have totally destroyed.
No. That would be the proper thing to do. Can’t have that. 

Tepco is making steady profits since 2012 while still receiving money from the Japanese Government, shouldered by the Japanese Taxpayers:

Japan approves increase in Fukushima compensation to $57 billion

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan on Tuesday approved an increase in compensation payments for the Fukushima crisis to 7.07 trillion yen ($57.18 billion), as tens of thousands of evacuees remain in temporary housing more than four years after the disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), the operator of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station, will receive 950 billion yen more in public funds on top of the 6.125 trillion agreed earlier, the utility and the government said.

Tepco’s Quarterly Profit Triples as Fuel Prices Plunge

Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the wrecked Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, said first-quarter operating profit tripled as a drop in fuel prices helped cut costs.

Tepco, as Japan’s biggest utility is known, posted an operating profit of 228.3 billion yen ($1.85 billion) for the three months ended June 30, compared with 70.7 billion yen a year ago, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

The company benefited from a more than 45 percent plunge in liquefied natural gas prices after crude oil fell to a record low. More than a third of Tepco’s power generation capacity comes from LNG, compared with 14 percent from oil and 8 percent from coal.

Factoring in the impact of a weaker yen, the plunge in oil prices alone boosted current profit by 276 billion yen, Tepco said.

“With the drop in the price of crude and a minimization of costs, the operating profit is in the black for the second year in a row,” the company said in the statement.

Fuel Spending

Tepco spent 35 percent less on LNG purchases in the first quarter, while consumption of the fuel fell by 5 percent. The company’s spending on crude oil rose by 7.5 percent, while its use was up 25 percent, the company said.

The utility’s purchases of coal rose 4.9 percent to 1.75 million metric tons, resulting in a 3.9 percent increase in spending on the fuel.

Indonesia was Tepco’s largest crude supplier last year, while Australia was the top coal provider.

Total sales dipped 1.1 percent to 1.55 trillion yen as the company generated 6 percent less capacity in the quarter.

Japan’s power consumption dropped 1.8 percent in the quarter from a year earlier, the fifth straight quarterly decline, to 189 terawatt hours, according to industry figures. That’s the lowest quarterly use since 2000.

With Tepco struggling to win approval to restart its nuclear reactors, the drop in fuel costs provides relief.

In June, the price of LNG imported into Japan dropped to $7.60 per million British thermal units, the lowest level in two years. Power utilities with a high ratio of LNG will see an increase in profits, Syusaku Nishikawa, an analyst at Daiwa Securities Co., said by e-mail.

Tepco’s first-quarter net income was 203.3 billion yen, compared with a net loss of 173 billion yen a year ago. The company’s net income is influenced by costs related to the payout to those affected by the Fukushima nuclear accident more than four years ago.

Source:  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-29/tepco-s-first-quarter-profit-triples-as-fuel-prices-cut-costs

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | 1 Comment

Intensive Focus on Profits Amplifies Financial and Operational Risks

The nuclear complex is organized around money and the seduction of absolute power over matter. The profit motive seems greater today than the latter organizing principle, as illustrated by relentless pressures on profitability at Toshiba, a company that includes nuclear engineering in its portfolio:

Toshiba execs, staff say they were under pressure to achieve high profits http://mainichi.jp/english/english/features/news/20150722p2a00m0na011000c.html

Current and former executives and high-ranking employees at the Toshiba group say its various divisions had been under enormous pressure from top board members to achieve unreasonably high profit goals, forcing them to pad their profits.

“I never want to go back to such a life,” said a man, who once served as president of a subsidiary of Toshiba Corp. that is under fire for padding profits through accounting irregularities….

A report released by a third-party panel that investigated the profit overstating scandal describes in detail how Tanaka and other top-ranking executives set unreasonably high profit goals — called a “challenge” — for each division and subsidiary and forced those responsible to pad their profits through accounting irregularities….

The crisis at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant that broke out in March 2011 also contributed to Toshiba executives’ excessive pursuit of profits.

Toshiba’s nuclear plant division, which executives regarded as a key division that would grow steadily, suffered a setback following the outbreak of the disaster. “We had thought that the division’s future would be rosy but it began to take a thorny path,” a high-ranking official of Tohiba says.

Majia here: The relentless pursuit of profit (i.e., greed) infuses the entire nuclear industry.

Today, aging nuclear plants are being “up rated” and having their lives extended far beyond design specifications so that utilities and government do not have to face the problems and prohibitive costs of nuclear decommissioning.

Risks from accidents, particularly from uprating (U.S. is increasing nuclear power through uprating.( see Alan Zarembo and Ben Welsh, Los Angeles Times April 17, 2011,http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/17/local/la-me-uprates-20110418).

Tiny uprates have long been common. But nuclear watchdogs and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s own safety advisory panel have expressed concern over larger boosts — some by up to 20% — that the NRC began approving in 1998. Twenty of the nation’s 104 reactors have undergone these “extended power uprates.”

…In an uprated reactor, more neutrons bombard the core, increasing stress on its steel shell. Core temperatures are higher, lengthening the time to cool it during a shutdown. Water and steam flow at higher pressures, increasing corrosion of pipes, valves and other parts…

“This trend is, in principle, detrimental to the stability characteristics of the reactor, inasmuch as it increases the probability of instability events and increases the severity of such events, if they were to occur,” the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, which is mandated by Congress to advise the NRC, has warned.

Majia here: Aging nuclear plants are routinely spewing tritium into the environment:

‘75% of nuke sites leaking tritium, AP report finds Half have parts exceeding drinking water standard’, Http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/jun/26/75-of-nuke-sites-leaking-tritium-ap-report-finds/?print=1

Nuclear accidents are far more likely than past predictions and human greed is increasing the likelihood of accidents every day.

Source: Majia’s Blog

http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2015/07/intensive-focus-on-profits-amplifies.html

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Tepco started removing the cover of Reactor 1 building

2-Photo-Tepco-started-removing-the-cover-of-Reactor-1-building july 29 2015

According to Tepco, they started removing the main part of cover of Reactor 1 on 7/28/2015.

They announced that there was no significant change in dust monitoring data and radiation monitoring post readings.

The former Fukushima worker “Happy11311″ commented on Twitter that the high level of contamination might be retained on the ground floor with rain after they take the cover away.

2-Photo-Tepco-started-removing-the-cover-of-Reactor-1-building july 29 2015 2

2-Photo-Tepco-started-removing-the-cover-of-Reactor-1-building july 29 2015 3

2-Photo-Tepco-started-removing-the-cover-of-Reactor-1-building july 29 2015 4

Sources:

Click to access handouts_150728_07-j.pdf


http://photo.tepco.co.jp/date/2015/201507-j/150728-01j.html
https://twitter. com/Happy11311/status/625634149794123776
http://fukushima-diary.com/2015/07/photo-tepco-started-removing-the-cover-of-reactor-1-building/

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment