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Japan in talks over bid for UK uranium powerhouse

Japanese government wants to acquire a producer of enriched uranium that is expected to be worth several billions of dollars.
Kansai Electric’s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture. Japan looks to have atomic energy supply a fifth of the nation’s power by fiscal 2030.
Multibillion-dollar deal would keep China and Russia from gaining control of Urenco
TOKYO — The Japanese government has entered into negotiations to acquire U.K.-based Urenco, a major European producer of enriched uranium, in a deal that is expected to be worth several billions of dollars.
The state-owned Japan Bank for International Cooperation is expected to make an offer together with U.S. nuclear energy company Centrus Energy.
The not-so-ulterior motive is to block companies from Russia and China — two countries that are increasing their influence in the global nuclear power market — from taking control of the company.
At home, the Japanese government is promoting nuclear power generation as a major source of electricity — another reason it hopes to secure an interest in Urenco’s enriched uranium.
The Japanese government is holding talks with major shareholders of Urenco, sources close to the matter said. Ownership of Urenco is evenly split by three parties — the governments of the U.K. and the Netherlands as well as German electric utilities including RWE.
The German side is exploring a sale as the government plans to phase out nuclear power. The U.K. government, working on fiscal consolidation, is also looking for a buyer.
Urenco is engaged in turning natural uranium into enriched uranium, which is critical in generating nuclear power. The company ranks second in the world after Tenex — a unit of Russian nuclear concern Rosatom — in terms of capacity to produce enriched uranium, holding a global share of around 30%.
JBIC and Centrus Energy are looking to acquire a majority or larger stake in Urenco, which would cost several hundred billion yen (several billions of dollars). JBIC by itself hopes to hold a stake of around 20-30%. Negotiations are expected to last through the summer. A deal could be struck as early as this year.
The joint bid for Urenco is aimed at keeping Russia and China at bay. Both countries are said to be showing interest in acquiring the enriched uranium producer.
According to the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, China had 35 nuclear reactors in operation as of January 2017, while Russia had 30. Including reactors in the planning stage, however, the numbers grow to 82 in China and 55 in Russia, surpassing Japan’s 53.

January 21, 2018 Posted by | Nuclear | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi Reactor 2: new investigation

Tepco has just released the results of an investigation made in the containment of reactor 2. Nothing really new, apart from a found assembly element, we are waiting for radioactivity measurements now.
20 janvier 2018
A new 10-hour investigation was conducted in the Fukuishima Daiichi reactor 2 containment enclosure, according to a report released by Tepco on January 19, 2018. However, Tepco does not indicate the date of the operation. The images and measurements were taken using a 13 meter probe with a camera. TEPCO will only broadcast the radioactivity measurements later.
Photo: an assembly element was found
According to this document, TEPCO gives two main informations:
– The entire bottom of the base of the reactor base is covered with deposits of sandy and clay.
– Some fuel assembly components have fallen to the base of the reactor base and are considered fuel debris.
As usual, Tepco does not use the word “corium”. It does not speak more about the radioactive environment of the place which is lethal (a last year made measure at this place was 530 Sieverts) but promises to return soon. I will update this page when the information falls.
The deposit of sandy and clay types is what is at the bottom of the enclosure and which had already been spotted last year around the pedestal. This vase prevents a clear view of the bottom of the enclosure because the slightest movement of the camera, the water is troubled.
For the first time, Tepco discloses a diagram showing the inside of the reactor pedestal. We see :
– an upper platform, which was already known, which allows access to control rods located just below the reactor vessel. This, according to the February 2017 report, is pierced with a hole 1 meter in diameter. It is the mass of the corium coming from the tank during the meltdown that made this hole.
– an intermediate platform that Tepco claims has not been piereced (but the diagram does not show it in full)
– An annular lower platform bordering the wall of the pedestal, which Tepco also claims that it has no hole. But, same remark, the diagram shows only half.
The piece of assembly that emerges very clearly from a pile of various materials is an upper tie plate. It is surmounted by a bar (“bail handle”), a kind of handle for moving the assembly using an articulated arm. This photo makes it possible to deduce that at least one whole assembly has passed through the tank, which implies that the tank has a hole of at least the width of an assembly (approximately 50 cm). The probe has certainly taken pictures of this hole but Tepco do not release them.


Type of assembly element found on the lower platform of the No. 2 reactor pedestal.
This element is the upper part that we see for example in these assemblies of the reactor pool
Toshiba’s probe, during its presentation in Yokohama, December 22, 2017. The telescopic arm carries a panoramic camera.
Here are the photos of the interior of the BR2 containment building released by Tepco on January 19, 2018:
Here are some pages from the report on the same date:

Tepco’s full report of 19 January 2018

[pdf] HANDOUTS_180119_01-E

Source :

Special thanks to Pierre Fetet of the Fukushima Blog

Translation Hervé Courtois (Dun Renard)

January 21, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | 2 Comments

Insufficient testing will mean playing radiation roulette for the consumers

Fukushima Pref. to stop blanket radiation checks on rice, start random testing
Capture du 2018-01-20 09-48-49.png
A woman, left foreground, participates in a tour to experience the blanket screening of Fukushima-produced rice for any radioactive materials.
FUKUSHIMA — The Fukushima Prefectural Government will halt blanket radiation screening of rice produced in the nuclear disaster-hit prefecture in favor of random checks as early as 2020, it has been learned.
Testing all of the prefecture’s annual rice output of some 10 million bags costs 6 billion yen a year. Meanwhile, no cases of rice exceeding the government-set limit of 100 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram have been found in the past three years, according to the prefectural government. However, blanket testing will continue for the time being in areas once subject to evacuation orders in the wake of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster.
The prefecture set up a panel comprising officials from Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) and consumer group members in July last year to discuss the inspection system. The prefectural government presented the plan to curtail the rice screening on Jan. 18, which was largely agreed to by the panel, and is set to finalize the plan shortly. Random testing has already been introduced for Fukushima Prefecture vegetables and fruits.
When the blanket screening on Fukushima rice began in 2012, there were 71 bags of rice produced that year with radioactive cesium levels exceeding the national limit, accounting for 0.0007 percent of all bags, according to the prefectural government. After natural attenuation of cesium and farmers’ soil management progressed, there were no cases of bags exceeding the limit from 2015 onward, while 99.99 percent of bags dipped under the minimum detection limit of 25 becquerels of cesium per kilogram.
In response, the prefectural government determined that it would be appropriate to switch to random screening after a two- to three-year preparatory period.
As areas where evacuation orders have been lifted are still working to resume rice farming, blanket screening will remain in place in those areas until enough data has been accumulated to guarantee product safety. Farmers who grow rice for their own consumption can have it tested upon their request.
The prefectural government has footed some 5 billion yen of the some 6 billion yen a year needed for the blanket screening, and has demanded plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. pay the same amount in compensation. The remaining 1 billion yen has been subsidized by the central government.
Fears remain among farmers and distributers, though, over whether the current image of Fukushima rice as “safe as it has been screened” would change to “dangerous unless tested” under the new screening policy.
“I want authorities to come up with ways that allow everyone to feel at ease eating Fukushima rice,” said Hitoshi Saito, 62, a farmer from Date, Fukushima Prefecture. Saito went on to question “how consumers will feel” about the scaling back on the inspection system.
In a questionnaire conducted by the prefectural government last year, 40 percent of farmers in Fukushima requested more efficient screening on locally produced rice, while another 40 percent demanded that blanket testing continue. Ten percent said no screening was necessary.
Shin Nagamine, 43, a farmer from the town of Aizubange, hailed the new policy, but added, “It’s unknown whether consumers will accept it in terms of ‘safety.’ I want the central and prefectural governments to get the word out to the whole country the fact that Fukushima rice is safe and secure.”
Fukushima to scale back rice radiation checks
Fukushima Prefectural Government plans to scale back radiation checks on rice harvested in the prefecture.
FUKUSHIMA – Fukushima Prefectural Government plans to scale back radiation checks on rice harvested in the prefecture, officials said Thursday.
The prefectural government is considering switching to sample tests, from blanket checks on all bags, within a few years for rice produced in areas not close to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the officials said.
But some farmers have sought to keep the full checks in place. The prefectural government aims to make a final decision by the end of March.
Blanket radiation checks began in 2012 following the triple meltdown at the nuclear plant in March 2011.
From the 2012 harvest 71 bags of rice had levels of radiation that exceeded the safety limit, which is set at 100 becquerels per kilogram.
But the number has since declined, and no such bags were found between 2015 and 2017. Taking the results into consideration, the prefectural government has been reviewing the test method to reduce costs and manpower.

January 21, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment