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Kyushu Electric Power Co. scraps plan for emergency facility at Sendai nuclear station

safety-symbol1flag-japan Scrapped emergency plan puts Kyushu Electric’s safety commitment in doubt, Asahi Shimbun, February 01, 2016 Kyushu Electric Power Co. and the Nuclear Regulation Authority are at odds over the utility’s decision to scrap its plan to build an emergency facility at its Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture.

In December, Kyushu Electric requested the NRA’s permission to withdraw the plan, which the company had announced before two reactors at the nuclear plant were restarted in August and October 2015. The nuclear safety watchdog has called on the company to review its request.

This “important base-isolated building” is supposed to serve as a key disaster response center if a serious accident occurs at the nuclear plant. Why is the company trying to withdraw the plan to build such a facility after the two reactors resumed operations?

It is hardly surprising that local citizen groups have criticized the move as a breach of the legal principle of fairness and equality.

Kyushu Electric is causing itself to lose the trust of the public. The NRA’s response to the utility’s decision is reasonable.

The company’s Sendai nuclear plant was the first to meet the NRA’s stricter safety regulations drawn up after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. Consequently, the plant has been operating since August last year.

During the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, a seismically isolated building proved capable of serving as an on-site response center and played an important role in the aftermath of the accident.

Unlike ordinary earthquake-resistant buildings, which are designed to withstand violent shaking, base-isolated buildings are designed to reduce their movements during earthquakes.

When it applied for the NRA’s safety screening to restart the Sendai reactors, Kyushu Electric said it would construct by the end of March this year a three-story base-isolated building housing an emergency response center with a floor space of about 620 square meters.

The company said it would use an alternative emergency response center about a quarter in size for the purpose until the planned facility was built.

The utility, however, decided to change the plan, saying the alternative center, completed in September 2013, meets the requirements under the new safety standards.

Instead of constructing a new base-isolated building, the company plans to continue using the alternative facility and build a new support center……

But the company has not said when the support center will be built. The NRA has pointed out that Kyushu Electric Power has also not explained its claim that the support center will improve safety.

Indeed, the new safety standards do not require the emergency response center to be housed in a base-isolated building…….

Kyushu Electric has also said it has made no decision on whether it will build a base-isolated building to house an emergency response center in its Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture.

How the company’s changed plan will pan out will have significant effects on the safety inspections of other nuclear plants as well as utilities’ efforts for greater safety…..http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201602010032

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February 3, 2016 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Growing concern sin Europe over restarting aging Belgium nuclear stations

Concerns mount over reactivation of aging Belgian nuclear stations http://www.theworldweekly.com/reader/view/newswire/2016-02-01/concerns-mount-over-reactivation-of-aging-belgian-nuclear-stations/6537

German environment minister Barbara Hendricks is due to meet Belgian interior minister Jan Jambon in Brussels on Monday to express concern over the reactivation of two nuclear reactors which were shut down in 2012 because of safety concerns. Officials from the Netherlands and Luxembourg have also requested meetings over the decision to reboot the reactors. As of 1pm Belgian time on Monday, over 722,000 people had signed a petition on Avaaz, an activist website, entitled ‘Belgium: Stop the next Chernobyl’.
“Now it’s not a nuclear incident but maybe tomorrow it is. These worries are serious and this is why we are here, to give maximum transparency,” Dutch environment minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen told reporters on January 20 after inspecting the Doel plant, near the Dutch border.
 One of the reactors is part of the Doel plant; the other is part of the Tihange plant, which lies around an hour’s drive from Luxembourg and Germany. Both were taken offline in 2012, pending closer checks, after small cracks were found in their walls.
 Belgium’s nuclear watchdog approved their reactivation in December, and in mid-January it released a statement saying that tests had shown the cracks “do not pose an unacceptable safety risk”.
ays after being rebooted in December, the Doel reactor was shut down to fix a water leak. It has since been restarted again.
 Over the past two years a series of faults in non-nuclear parts of the two plants have led to temporary reactor shutdowns. In August 2014, for example, a different reactor at the Doel plant was taken offline because of an oil leak in the turbine hall.
 “There are concerns because of the age of the nuclear plant and the incidents that have been occurring,” Ms. van Haegen told reporters on January 20. But she added: “What the experts are telling me gives me the certainty at the moment that the Doel plant is safe.”

February 3, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

USA govt funds “new nukes’

emperor new clothes

Energy Department Funds Two Advanced Nuclear Programs MIT Technology Review, 21 Jan 16,  In the latest sign of the U.S. government’s determination to help push nuclear power technology beyond conventional reactors, the Department of Energy is providing $80 million in funding to two advanced reactor programs. At $40 million each in matching funds over the next five years, the grants will go to X-energy, a little-known Maryland-based startup that is developing a new version of a pebble-bed reactor, and to Southern Company, the Atlanta-based utility that is working with TerraPower on molten-salt reactors.   ……https://www.technologyreview.com/s/545586/energy-department-funds-two-advanced-nuclear-programs/

February 3, 2016 Posted by | politics, technology, USA | Leave a comment

China’s envoy in North Korea to discuss nuclear issue

China’s nuclear envoy in North Korea amid sanctions push: KCNA, Reuters, 

SEOUL | BY JACK KIM 1 FEB 16 China’s envoy for the North Korean nuclear issue arrived in the capital, Pyongyang, on Tuesday, the North’s KCNA news agency reported, amid a push by the United States and South Korea for tougher sanctions on the North after its fourth nuclear test.

China’s Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs Wu Dawei was expected to hold discussions with the North Koreans on the nuclear issue after his arrival there, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported from the North Korean capital.

Neither Kyodo nor KCNA gave further details……..

China disapproves of the North’s nuclear program and says it is making great efforts to achieve denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-nuclear-china-idUSKCN0VB0TU

February 3, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

New doubts on new nuclear

Fresh doubts on new nuclear: reports http://utilityweek.co.uk/news/fresh-doubts-on-new-nuclear-reports/1211252#.VrEUe9J97Gi  31/01/2016

The ongoing uncertainty over EDF’s Hinkley Point has cast doubt over the UK’s second planned new nuclear plant, Horizon’s Wylfa Newydd project, according to a report in the Sunday Telegraph. The newspaper reported this weekend that Hitachi chairman and chief executive Hiroaki Nakanishi expressed his concerns to the foreign secretary Philip Hammond when Hammond visited Japan earlier this month.

Nakanishi told the Telegraph: “The DECC worries about the stability of the scheduled construction of the [Hinkley Point] nuclear power plant, so some of the conditions – the credit requirements – those kind of things may affect us.

“In order to set up the financial conditions [to build Hinkley], Chinese capital was introduced, but what the real result will be – we have a very serious concern about that.”

Horizon expects to present full and final proposals later this year and is currently hoping to start generating power within the first half of the 2020s. It plans to generate more than 2,700 MW at the site using two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors supplied by Hitachi, which bought Horizon Nuclear Power in 2012.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported that a get-out clause in the government’s contract with EDF, allowing the Treasury to back out of financial support if the French energy giant’s troubled Flamanville nuclear plant is not up and running by 2020, could put further pressure on the project. EDF is believed to have delayed a final investment decision on Hinkley until next month at the earliest, amid growing concerns over the financing of the proposed nuclear plant.

Author: Ellen Bennett,

February 3, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment