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South Korea to actively deal with radioactive water discharge from Fukushima plant

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August 14, 2019
The treatment of radioactive water stored in tanks in Fukushima has become the subject of intense international concern in recent months, including in South Korea, as reports say the Japanese government is considering releasing it into the Pacific Ocean.
 
And now, South Korea — one of Japan’s closest neighbors — says it will seek ways to deal with Tokyo’s planned discharge.
 
“We will work closely with institutions and countries in the Pacific Rim that will be affected and actively respond to any potential water discharge from the Fukushima plant.”
 
Tokyo Electric Power Corporation, which manages the storage of the toxic water, says it will run out of space in three years.
Greenpeace warned in a report earlier this year that South Korea will be among the nations most affected by any discharge.
 
And with the IAEA General Conference to be held in Vienna in September, and the South Korea-China-Japan Top Regulators’ Meeting on Nuclear Safety taking place in China in November, Seoul plans to raise the issue, and consider other concrete actions.
 
Asked about the possibility of South Korea boycotting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics over the matter, Seoul’s foreign affairs ministry did not provide a direct answer.
 
Citing the same problem, a number of U.S. media outlets, including the Washington Post, have raised concerns over the safety of American athletes heading to Tokyo next summer.
 
Since 2013, South Korea has blocked all seafood imports from eight Japanese prefectures near Fukushima after it was found that contaminated water was leaking into the ocean.
 
While Tokyo sought to challenge Seoul’s decision by lodging a complaint at the World Trade Organization, the WTO in April ruled in Seoul’s favor, saying the measures do not amount to unfair trade restrictions or arbitrary discrimination.
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.
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August 16, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan releasing contaminated water of Fukushima would only create another disaster

“The idea of releasing the contaminated water before it has been entirely treated for radioactivity is completely unacceptable. For the Japanese government to make a unilateral decision about a multilateral matter that endangers the health of not only its own citizens but also the citizens of its neighbors is both irresponsible and immoral.”
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The storage tanks for contaminated water from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown
 
 
 
Aug.15,2019
If Japan releases 1.1 million tons of water contaminated with high-level radioactivity from storage tanks at the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean, that water could reach the east shore of South Korea within a year. That was the bottom line of a press conference held in South Korea on Aug. 14 by Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany.
 
The problem is that discharging the contaminated water isn’t some vague possibility, but the option favored by the Japanese government. Last October, Japan’s nuclear regulator said it would allow the water to be released, provided that it’s diluted first.
 
The idea of releasing the contaminated water before it has been entirely treated for radioactivity is completely unacceptable. For the Japanese government to make a unilateral decision about a multilateral matter that endangers the health of not only its own citizens but also the citizens of its neighbors is both irresponsible and immoral.
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Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, talks about the dangers of Japan’s decision to release radioactively contaminated water from the 2011 Fukushima disaster during a press conference in Seoul on Aug. 14.
 
It’s obvious that the contaminated water will be carried by sea currents to the East Sea, with harmful effect. A study has found that the levels of radiation in the East Sea more than doubled during the five years after contaminated water was released for a brief time in 2011, during the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
 
The main reason the Japanese government hopes to discharge the contaminated water is cost. The massive amount of radioactive water produced since the 2011 accident at Fukushima is being stored in the reactor’s water tanks; at the current rate, they will overflow by March 2021. Attempting to skimp on the cost of building more tanks by releasing the contaminated water is the worst possible option, as it would trigger another catastrophe. According to Shaun Burnie, the only option is to build more water tanks while focusing on developing techniques for treating the radioactive particles.
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The route by which contaminated water discharged by Japan would eventually reach the eastern shores of Korea.
 
With the Tokyo Olympics just one year away, the Japanese government is working overtime to promote the claim that it’s moved beyond the Fukushima disaster. First it announced that dishes for athletes will be prepared with crops grown at Fukushima, and then it selected a spot just 20km away from the accident as the starting point for the Olympic torch. That has prompted not only leading global media outlets but even domestic ones to run multiple stories concluding that the Fukushima area isn’t safe from radioactive materials. Japan needs to call off this rash marketing campaign, which jeopardizes the safety of Olympic athletes and audiences.
The South Korean government has announced that it will respond proactively to the issue of contaminated water at Fukushima. Some see this as another way to pressure Japan in the two countries’ ongoing economic dispute. But the two are separate issues. We hope the government will deal with this issue with a firm, and consistent, attitude.
 
 
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August 16, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima: Nuclear-contaminated water raises 2020 Games site fears

They would love to get rid of all that accumulated radioactive water by dumping it into the sea before the venue of the 2020 Olympics. An ongoing media campaign pushing for it is relentlessly continuing….
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August 13th, 2019
Storage space is running out for Fukushima
Beginning late next July, Tokyo and several other sites around Japan will welcome elite athletes from around the world for the 2020 Summer Games. One of the sites carries with it a stigma that organizers are hoping to help heal — Fukushima.
Some scheduled baseball and softball events will take place at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, located about 70 km northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The site’s three reactors famously suffered a partial meltdown in the wake of the 2011’s Great East Japan Earthquake and the resulting 15-metre tsunami. The disaster was the second-worst since Chernobyl, leaving piles of melted radioactive fuel in the plant’s three reactors.
While it’s now estimated that 96 per cent of the power plant can be safely accessed without protective clothing, and no evacuation order has ever been in place for parts of the prefecture — including where the baseball stadium is located — the damage to the name has been done, according to locals.
“We are looked at like Chernobyl,” Saito Nobuyuki, who was born in Fukushima and now a sporting goods store there, told the New York Times. “It’s difficult to change.”
Yoshiro Mori, the 2020 organising committee president, hopes by hosting events at the site, that change can begin.
“By hosting Olympic baseball and softball events, Fukushima will have a great platform to show the world the extent of its recovery in the 10 years since the disaster,” Mori said, according to the Guardian.
There may be another hitch in the road to recovery, however, and it’s looming on the horizon for next year.
Tremendous amounts of water flooded the reactors in the wake of the disaster, both from the tsunami itself and from water added to cover the melted reactors and allow them to cool as part of the efforts to clean up the site and decommission the plant. Since then, groundwater has also infiltrated the site. All of this water has been contaminated by radioactive substances, like cesium and tritium. While the cesium can be removed via processing, tritium generally remains, meaning the still-contaminated water must be stored.
TEPCO, the utility which operated the reactor, has installed about 1,000 large storage tanks at the site to hold the contaminated water; currently, more than 1.05 million tons of radioactive water are being stored in the tanks, and roughly 150 tons are added every day.
TEPCO continues to install new tanks, but according to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, “space limitations mean that by the end of 2020, a maximum storage capacity of about 1.34 million tons will be reached.” Officials have added that if the groundwater infiltration was decreased, it will be possible to stretch that date until summer 2022.
While more tanks can be installed, a long-term solution is still being sought and, so far, most of them aren’t going over well with the locals.
One suggestion before the central government is to dilute the water after processing and gradually release it into the Pacific. Another is to build a long-term storage facility near the plant site. Fukushima residents, and fishermen in particular, have expressed strong opposition to both ideas, not over fears of the wastewater itself but because of the negative publicity and continuing stigma that would damage their livelihoods.
Tritium — the contaminant left in the water after treatment — is a relatively weak source of radiation that doesn’t pose much threat to humans, though in extremely large quantities impacts to health are possible. It’s commonly used in glow-in-the-dark lighting and signs.
Setting a deadline on the current storage situation puts additional pressure on Japanese authorities and the public to reach a consensus.
“When we talk about Fukushima’s reconstruction, the question is if we should prioritize the decommissioning at the expense of Fukushima people’s lives,” Naoya Sekiya, a University of Tokyo professor of disaster social science, told the Associated Press. “The issue is not just about science.”

August 16, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation Levels Big Concern as Japan Preps for 2020 Olympics

August 13, 2019
The 2020 Olympics are set to take place in Japan, but there is a growing concern about the safety of those heading overseas. In the time following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan saw the release of harmful radioactive pollutants or radionuclides, such as iodine‑131, cesium‑134, cesium‑137, strontium‑90, and plutonium‑238.
This resulted in radioactive contamination throughout northeastern Japan, but after eight years, members of the local and central government have said that the radiation is no longer a concern. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely accurate. The steps taken by the government to make the environment safer are viewed as effective by some, but there is far more to the story. According to The Diplomat, the radiation hasn’t entirely disappeared from the environment. Instead, it’s been moved to other locations.
One such process of decontamination has actually consisted of collecting and removing radioactive pollutants. The radionuclides are then placed in black vinyl bags, which, in theory, should impede the risk of rescattering residual radioactivity. The report continues by providing evidence of this process. There are currently mountains of black plastic bags, filled with contaminated soil or debris, that can be seen in many parts of Fukushima.
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Eat and cheer. I say what a shame, but the rice made right next to the pile of radiation contaminated soil. It is not a bad reputation and I can not eat it because I am scared.#Fukushima nuclear accident#Radiation pollution
Unfortunately, this fix of sticking the radionuclides inside the bags only appears to be a temporary solution that will ultimately need to be addressed once again. For example, some of the vinyl bags are now starting to break down due to the build-up of gas released by rotten soil. Plants and flowers have also started to grow inside the bags. With nowhere to expand, these plants are breaking through the bags and exposing the radioactive materials to the atmosphere. At this point, it is far more likely that the weather will distribute the radionuclides once again.
Additionally, there have been countless monitoring posts installed throughout Fukushima, which display the current atmospheric level of radiation. Measurements are taken from different locations and then combined to create an average level for the city. According to these posts, the levels of radiation have significantly fallen.
That being said, The Diplomat reports that there are currently no monitoring posts in the forests and mountains. These areas make up 70 percent of the Fukushima prefecture, but the radiation levels are not being monitored. The other concern is that the monitoring posts only measure gamma rays and ignore radionuclides, which are very harmful if swallowed or ingested.
With the Olympics approaching, the belief is that the radiation is lowering and that the athletes will not be in danger. However, reports by The Diplomat paint a far more troubling picture. Will the events proceed as planned, or will adjustments have to be made as 2020 nears?

August 16, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

South Korea to actively deal with radioactive water discharge from Fukushima plant

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This photo, provided by Kyodo news agency on March 8, 2019, shows the storage tanks keeping radioactive water from the Fukushima meltdown, in Fukushima, Japan.
 
August 13, 2019
SEOUL, Aug. 13 (Yonhap) — South Korea will actively seek ways to deal with Japan’s planned discharge of water contaminated as a result of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Tuesday, amid concern storage space will soon run out.
 
The treatment of radioactive water stored in tanks in Fukushima has drawn international concern in recent months following reports that the Japanese government is considering releasing the water into the Pacific Ocean.
 
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility company managing the storage, has said it will run out of space to store the toxic water in three years. Greenpeace warned in a report early this year that South Korea will be among countries particularly affected by the discharge into the sea.
 
“Our government puts top priority on the health and safety of our citizens, and we plan to actively ask Japan to disclose information and to provide us with a concrete stance on the current management system and disposal plans,” ministry spokesman Kim In-chul told a regular press briefing.
Seoul has proposed that Tokyo hold bilateral and multilateral talks over the matter since the government became aware in August 2018 of a plan to discharge the water, Kim added.
 
Two months later, the government sent Tokyo an official statement detailing national concerns and requests in relation to the matter, and continued negotiations over the issue at various levels, bilaterally as well as through multilateral channels, according to the ministry.
 
The ministry said Japan has only maintained that the final decision for disposal of the radioactive water is still under review and that it will announce it to the international community when it’s ready.
 
“If it’s deemed necessary, we will also closely cooperate with our neighbors in the Pacific that are also feared to be affected, so as to actively cope with the problem of the discharge of contaminated water,” Kim said.
 
In that regard, the government is mulling over other concrete actions such as raising the matter at the IAEA General Conference to be held in Vienna next month and the South Korea-China-Japan Top Regulators’ Meeting on Nuclear Safety, which is to take place in China in November.
 
While there’s no other country yet to formally take issue with Japan’s reported move to release contaminated water, the environmental authorities of many Pacific nations are apparently keeping a close eye on it, a ministry official said later on background.
 
International environmental groups including Greenpeace are voicing concern about the issue as well, the official added.
 
Asked about the possibility of South Korea boycotting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in connection with the matter, the ministry spokesman avoided a direct answer.
 
Seoul and Tokyo are locked in an escalating economic and political row stemming from the longstanding issue of compensation for wartime forced labor.
 
Since 2013, South Korea has banned all seafood imports from eight Japanese prefectures near Fukushima, after Japan announced a leak of contaminated water.
 
Tokyo sought to challenge Seoul’s decision by lodging a complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO). In April this year, the WTO finalized the ruling in favor of Seoul, saying the measures do not amount to unfair trade restrictions or arbitrary discrimination. (Yonhap)

 

August 16, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Can 2020 Summer Olympics help Fukushima rebound from nuclear disaster?

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A deserted street inside the exclusion zone close near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Most areas around the plant are still closed to residents due to radiation contamination from the 2011 disaster.
Aug. 12, 2019
FUKUSHIMA, Japan — An hour north of Tokyo by way of bullet train, the land is lush and green, framed by thickly wooded mountains in the distance.
This vast rural prefecture in northeast Japan was once renowned for its fruit orchards, but much has changed.
“There has been a bad reputation here,” a local government official said.
Since the spring of 2011, the world has known Fukushima for the massive earthquake and tsunami that killed approximately 16,000 people along the coast. Flooding triggered a nuclear plant meltdown that forced hundreds of thousands more from their homes.
As the recovery process continues nearly a decade later, organizers of the 2020 Summer Games say they want to help.
Under the moniker of the “Reconstruction Olympics,” they have plotted a torch relay course that begins near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant and continues through adjacent prefectures — Miyagi and Iwate — impacted by the disaster. The region will host games in baseball, softball and soccer next summer.
“We are hoping that, through sports, we can give the residents new dreams,” said Takahiro Sato, director of Fukushima’s office of Olympic and Paralympic promotions. “We also want to show how far we’ve come.”
The effort has drawn mixed reactions, if only because the so-called “affected areas” are a sensitive topic in Japan.
Some people worry about exposure to lingering radiation; they accuse officials of whitewashing health risks. Critics question spending millions on sports while communities are still rebuilding.
“The people from that area have dealt with these issues for so long and so deeply, the Olympics are kind of a transient event,” said Kyle Cleveland, an associate professor of sociology at Temple University’s campus in Japan. “They’re going to see this as a public relations ploy.”
It was midafternoon in March 2011 when a 9.0 earthquake struck at sea, sending a procession of tsunamis racing toward land.
The initial crisis focused on the coastline, where thousands were swept to their deaths.
Another concern soon arose as floodwaters shut down the power supply and reactor cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Three of the facility’s six reactors suffered fuel meltdowns, releasing radiation into the ocean and atmosphere.
Residents within a 12-mile “exclusion zone” were forced to evacuate; others in places such as Fukushima city, about 38 miles inland, fled as radioactive particles traveled by wind and rain.
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The ruined Unit 3 reactor building at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on Sept. 15, 2011.
The populace began to question announcements from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) about the scope of the contamination, said Cleveland, who is writing a book on the catastrophe and its aftermath.
“In the first 10 weeks, Tepco was downplaying the risk,” he said. “Eventually, they were dissembling and lying.”
The company has been ordered to pay millions in damages, and three former executives have been charged with professional negligence. Crews have removed massive amounts of contaminated soil, washed down buildings and roads, and begun a decades-long process to extract fuel from the reactors’ cooling pools.
All of which left the area known as the “Fruit Kingdom” in limbo.
It is assumed that low-level radiation increases the chances of adverse health effects such as cancer but the science can be complicated.
Reliable data on radiation risks is difficult to obtain, said Jonathan Links, a public health professor at Johns Hopkins University. And, with cosmic rays and other sources emitting natural or “background” ionizing radiation, it can be difficult to pinpoint whether an acceptable threshold for additional, low-level exposure exists at all.
In terms of athletes and coaches visiting the impacted prefectures for a week or two during the Olympics, Links said the cancer risk is proportional, growing incrementally each day.
The Japanese government has raised what it considers to be the acceptable exposure from 1 millisievert to 20 millisieverts per year. Along with this adjustment, officials have declared much of the region suitable for habitation, lifting evacuation orders in numerous municipalities. Housing subsidies that allowed evacuees to live elsewhere have been discontinued.
But some towns remain nearly empty.
“People are refusing to go back,” said Katsuya Hirano, a UCLA associate professor of history who has who has spent years collecting interviews for an oral history. “Especially families with children.”
Their hesitancy does not surprise Cleveland. Though research has led the Temple professor to believe conditions are safe, he knows that residents have lost faith in the authorities.
“That horse has left the barn,” he said. “It’s not coming back.”
A narrow highway leads west, out of downtown Fukushima, arriving finally at a 30,000-seat ballpark that rises from the farmlands.
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The Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium.
Azuma Baseball Stadium was built in the late 1980s with a modernist design, blockish and concrete. Prefecture officials have begun renovations there.
“We changed from grass to artificial turf,” Sato said. “We’re updating the lockers and showers.”
The work is coordinated from a small office in the local government headquarters, where two-dozen employees tap away at computer keyboards and talk on phones, sitting at desks that have been pushed together.
Tokyo 2020’s initial bid included preliminary soccer competition at Miyagi Stadium, in a prefecture farther north of the nuclear plant. Six baseball and softball games were relocated to Azuma during later discussions with the International Olympic Committee.
“We made a presentation about the radiation situation and how to deal with it,” Sato recalled. “They understood and we think that’s why they got on board with this idea of the ‘Reconstruction Olympics.’ ”
Fukushima has spent $20 million on preparations over the past two years, he said, adding that his office has heard complaints from “a segment of the population.”
With infrastructure repairs continuing throughout the region, evacuee Akiko Morimatsu has a skeptical view of the Tokyo 2020 campaign.
“They have called these the ‘Reconstruction Games,’ but just because you call it that doesn’t mean the region will be recovered,” Morimatsu said.
Concerns about radiation prompted her to leave the Fukushima town of Koriyama, outside the mandatory evacuation zone, moving with her two young children to Osaka. Her husband, a doctor, remained; he visits the family once a month.
“The reality is that the region hasn’t recovered,” said Morimatsu, who is part of a group suing the national government and Tepco. “I feel the Olympics are being used as part of a campaign to spread the message that Fukushima is recovered and safe.”
Balance this sentiment against other forces at work in Japanese culture, where the Olympics and baseball, in particular, are widely popular. Masa Takaya, a spokesman for the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, insists that “sports can play an important role in our society.”
In Fukushima, a city of fewer than 300,000, colored banners fly beside the highway amid other signs of anticipation.
Elderly volunteers, plucking weeds from a flower bed at the train station, wear pink vests that express their support for the Games. On the eastern edge of town, a handful of workers attend to Azuma Stadium.
Dressed in white overalls, they walk slowly across the field, stopping every once in a while to bend down and pick at the pristine turf. Sato remains optimistic.
“Everyone’s circumstances are different,” he said. “Maybe there will be some people who come back to Fukushima because of this.”

August 16, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Ballooning costs give lie to notion nuclear power is cheapest energy

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From left: The No. 5, No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture
August 12, 2019
Soaring costs borne by operators of nuclear power plants to safeguard their facilities against natural disasters and terrorist attacks suggest the government is wrong in its longstanding contention that nuclear power is the nation’s cheapest energy source.
A study by The Asahi Shimbun found that the overall estimate for the cost of safety measures by 11 operators stood at 5.074 trillion yen ($48.32 billion) as of July. The operators include those whose nuclear facilities are still under construction.
The combined figure for the 11 companies represents an increase of about 660 billion yen from a year earlier.
The Asahi Shimbun has tallied total estimated safety costs by nuclear plant operators since 2013.
As of January 2013, the combined total was 998.2 billion yen.
New safety regulations implemented after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster obliged power companies to equip their facilities with additional safeguard measures to prevent a severe accident triggered by a powerful earthquake, tsunami, fire, terrorist attack and other emergencies.
The Fukushima disaster was triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake, which generated towering tsunami that knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., setting off a triple meltdown.
The new regulations went into effect in 2013.
TEPCO’s estimated cost to implement safeguard measures doubled to 969 billion yen in the latest study due to steps to counter liquefaction and terrorist strikes at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant’s No. 6 and No. 7 reactors in Niigata Prefecture.
Kansai Electric Power Co. reported an additional 130.8 billion yen as the cost of building an emergency facility to respond to a terrorist attack on its Oi nuclear plant’s No. 3 and No. 4 reactors in Fukui Prefecture.
In the survey, The Asahi Shimbun for the first time asked power companies about their most recent estimates for countermeasures against terrorism and the previous estimate when they applied for certification of their anti-terror facilities by the government’s Nuclear Regulation Authority.
The responses showed that anti-terror measures are proving to be two times to five times more expensive than the companies initially envisaged.
Kyushu Electric Power Co. replied that such steps for the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at its Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture grew five-fold from 43 billion yen to 220 billion yen.
Kansai Electric Power Co. said it plans to spend 125.7 billion yen on anti-terror measures for the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at its Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture, up from 69.1 billion yen.
In the case of Shikoku Electric Power Co., the utility said measures to safeguard the No. 3 reactor at its Ikata nuclear plant in Ehime Prefecture from a terror attack surged from 32 billion yen to 55 billion yen.
Shikoku Electric said the increase is due to a change in the design and construction method following the NRA’s safety examination.
Of the 11 companies surveyed, six did not include costs for terrorism countermeasures in their estimates for safeguard mechanisms, which means that overall costs for safety measures, including those against terrorism, can only grow.
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Nine reactors at five nuclear facilities are now back online after clearing the more stringent standards set by the NRA.
The safety cost for each of those reactors ranged from 130 billion yen to 230 billion yen.
It appears likely that plans by Chugoku Electric Power Co., Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Japan Atomic Power Co. to restart reactors will cost each of the operators more than 300 billion yen per reactor in safety measures, if the cost of implementing terrorism countermeasures is added.
With the ballooning safety costs, the government’s argument that nuclear energy is cheaper than hydro power and coal is increasingly in doubt.
In 2015, a government study put the cost to generate 1 kilowatt-hour of energy for hydro power at 11 yen, coal-fired thermal power at 12.9 yen and nuclear power at 10.3 yen or more.
The government study estimated the cost for safety measures per nuclear reactor at about 100 billion yen.
The power generation cost for a reactor will rise 0.6 yen for an increase of every 100 billion yen that will be set aside for safeguard measures.

August 16, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment