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Macron pushes a “renaissance” while French nuclear flops

A farce that would make Feydeau blush — Beyond Nuclear International

A farce that would make Feydeau blush — Beyond Nuclear International


December 4, 2022 Posted by | France, marketing, politics international | Leave a comment

140,000 signatures “against” extending the operational period and rebuilding nuclear power plants submitted to the government “Reducing dependence on nuclear power plants is the voice of the people.

Toshi Kamata speaks in front of approximately 140,000 signatures opposing the promotion of nuclear power plants in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on April 2.

December 2, 2022
On December 2, the “Sayonara 10 Million People Action Committee,” a citizens’ group, submitted 140,463 signatures to the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) demanding the withdrawal of the nuclear power promotion measures being considered by the Kishida administration, including the extension of the operating period of nuclear power plants, which is stipulated to be “40 years in principle and 60 years maximum,” and the reconstruction (replacement) of nuclear power plants that are scheduled to be decommissioned. The signatures were submitted to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in late October.
 The signatures had been collected by the Executive Committee since late October. On the same day, a rally was held in the National Diet building, where reportage writer Toshi Kamata, representative of the callers, said, “The people’s voice in the wake of the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident is to reduce dependence on nuclear power as much as possible. These are angry signatures asking what they are thinking,” he explained, handing the signatures to a METI official on the spot.
 During the exchange of opinions following the submission of the signatures, participants voiced their opinions, such as “We should hold public hearings and listen to the public before reaching a conclusion,” but the METI official merely stated, “We will consider public comments at an appropriate time.
 Regarding the proposal to rebuild a nuclear power plant that has been decided to be decommissioned with a next-generation nuclear power plant, the METI side said, “Instead of decommissioning the plant, we will build one. Whether or not they will be built on the exact site has not yet been determined,” the ministry said, declining to elaborate.
 The government aims to decide on a policy to utilize nuclear power plants at the end of the year and submit a bill to amend related laws to the Diet next year. (Nozomi Masui)

December 4, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , | 1 Comment

A book titled “Fukushima Daiichi NPP Accident Nakadori Litigation” (published by Sakuhinsha, Inc.).

The book is a compilation of the eight years leading up to the victory against TEPCO. “I hope the younger generation will read it so that it will not fade away.

November 27, 2022
A book titled “Fukushima Daiichi NPP Accident Nakadori Litigation” (published by Sakuhinsha, Inc.) summarizes the history of the lawsuit by 52 men and women of the “Nakadori ni Ikiru Kai” (represented by Fumiko Hirai) living in Fukushima City and Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture, who claimed they suffered psychological damages from the nuclear accident and sought payment of approximately 100 million yen from TEPCO (in March this year, the plaintiffs were declared winners by the Supreme Court). On March 26, the plaintiffs gathered in Fukushima City for a party to celebrate the publication of the book and to express their gratitude. The book is based on the plaintiffs’ tearful statements, which they rewrote and reworked many times to complete the book, and is filled with the history of their claims of emotional distress caused by the risk of radiation exposure and radioactive contamination. One of the plaintiffs said, “I hope the younger generation will read this book. One of the plaintiffs said, “I really want the younger generation to read this book. I hope the younger generation will read this book so that the nuclear accident will not fade away.

[“For Your Later Use”].
 The completed book is 472 pages in a 466-size format. It consists mainly of statements submitted by the plaintiffs to the Fukushima District Court along with their complaint, and includes a chronology of events since March 2014, the complaint, a statement of opinion (excerpts) requesting termination through settlement, and a summary of the appeal trial decision (Sendai High Court, January 2021). The book is as thick as a dictionary and not inexpensive, but it is truly a compilation of the “Nakadori Ikiru Kai” (Association for the Living of Nakadori). The book will be available in bookstores from the 30th of this month.
 Hiroko Sato, one of the plaintiffs, writes in her introduction, “This book is a compilation of the experiences of the ‘Nakadori Ikiru Kai’ (Association for Living in Nakadori).
 This book is a record of our fight in court to prevent people from saying that there was no damage caused by radiation from the nuclear accident, because we wrote statements about our grief, suffering, and anxiety caused by the accident.
 The 20 plaintiffs who gathered for the first time in many years on that day also commented that they could not read the statements without tears.
 I joined the trial because I thought it was important for ordinary housewives to speak out. The reality was harsh, and the process of writing the statements was especially difficult. There were times when I thought about quitting because it was so hard. When I read the book again, I could not read it without tears, because it describes everyone so nakedly, and I wondered how each and every one of them had suffered so much.
 I was surprised to see how much each and every one of you had suffered. I think this book is about that. We will not pretend that what happened did not happen. We will not put a lid on the painful feelings we had. That was important.
 I want the younger generation to read this book. I want the younger generation to read this book. I want them to understand that when an accident occurs at a nuclear power plant, it is so difficult and changes the lives of so many people. I want them to read this book so that they will not let the accident fade away.
 The psychological damage caused by low-dose radiation exposure continues to this day. We hope that many people will become aware of our lawsuit, which has caused us great emotional distress as a result of the nuclear accident, and that they will change their minds about restarting nuclear power plants. I believe this book has that kind of power. I am proud to be one of the main characters in this book.”
 I am proud to be one of the main characters in this book. I am glad that it became a book. It is good timing to publish the book at a time when the government is trying to restart the nuclear power plants.

We will not be forgotten.
 Fumiko Hirai (Fukushima City), who has been leading the way as the representative of the association, reiterated her thoughts at the time she started preparing for the trial, “If we keep quiet, it will be pretended that it never happened. Ritsuko Ueki (Fukushima City), who played a central role in the sponsorship, proudly stated, “The main characters of this book are the plaintiffs. Her husband Shozo, who had fought with her as a plaintiff, suddenly became ill in July and passed away in August. Although the shock still brings tears to her eyes, Ms. Hirai and the plaintiffs were united to the end.
 Two other plaintiffs who attended the publication commemoration also lost their husbands.
 One of the plaintiffs had not told her husband that she was participating in the trial.
 She said, “I didn’t tell my husband because I thought he wouldn’t get the message. I thought he wouldn’t understand, so I didn’t tell my husband.
 Another plaintiff lost her husband last December. She shed tears, saying, “My husband always said to me, ‘Do your best.
 I don’t know how many tears I shed during the long, long process of the trial. Some were tears of joy. No, there were more tears of frustration.
There were more tears of frustration. Lawyers for TEPCO denied all of the plaintiffs’ claims, dismissing them as having no health or psychological damage caused by radioactive contamination. In his ruling, however, Hisaoki Kobayashi, the presiding judge of the Sendai High Court, took a swipe at TEPCO, stating that “it can be said that the plaintiffs were actually exposed to radiation far exceeding conventional assumptions,” and that “the fear and anxiety [about radiation exposure] is not something as light as the ‘vague sense of anxiety’ claimed by the appellant [TEPCO]. The court stated in its decision that “the fear and anxiety of radiation exposure is not as light as the ‘vague sense of anxiety’ claimed by the appellant (TEPCO).
 Attorney Kichitaro Nomura, who represented the plaintiffs in winning the lawsuit, said in front of the plaintiffs, “From the time I filed the lawsuit, I had been thinking that I would like to publish a book after this lawsuit was concluded in a good way. Everyone followed my lead. I am deeply moved by the results of their efforts to write statements and to overcome the questioning of the plaintiffs. I am deeply moved. This was a major trial in my career as a lawyer. The hurdle is high, but if you read the contents of the book, I think you will find something that will resonate with you. He then introduced a comment from Professor Kageura Kyo of the University of Tokyo. He said that he had asked Professor Kageura to comment on the obi, but he was unable to do so due to poor health.
 He said, “Be aware of the fact that it is ‘my’ own damage. I think this is an extremely important point, not only in litigation, but also as a sovereign in a democratic society. In that respect, I thought this lawsuit was very important in that it was not only a victory against TEPCO, but also in that the individual dignity confirmed in the lawsuit led to a reaffirmation of our existence as sovereigns in a democratic society more generally.
 I think the lawsuit was a confirmation of the principle that all citizens are respected as individuals at all levels, including the fact that Mr. Nomura was the only lawyer against the five TEPCO lawyers, and one of the concrete ways to realize that principle.

TEPCO rejected the settlement recommendation.
 Preparation for this lawsuit began in the spring of 2014; it was filed against TEPCO in Fukushima District Court on April 22, 2016.
 The plaintiffs were 1) initially exposed to radiation due to the spread of radioactive materials following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in March 2011, 2) faced with the decision of whether or not to evacuate to avoid exposure to radiation, 3) unable to take appropriate measures to prevent exposure to radiation due to lack of timely and accurate information from TEPCO, 4) family division and separation caused by the voluntary evacuation, and 5) the future health problems of their children and grandchildren. (6) A sense of loss regarding their garden and vegetable garden after the decontamination process.
 The first oral argument was held in August 2016, and the plaintiffs themselves began questioning in February 2018.
 In December 2019, the Fukushima District Court recommended a settlement at the request of the plaintiffs, but TEPCO refused. After stating that “it is reasonable,” the amount of the approved amount was calculated in consideration of the individual circumstances of each plaintiff. The court ordered TEPCO to pay between 22,000 yen and 286,000 yen (a total of 1,234,000 yen) to 50 of the 52 plaintiffs.
 The plaintiffs accepted the judgment, but TEPCO appealed. The appeal hearing at the Sendai High Court will conclude with the first oral argument in September 2020. In January 2021, the High Court ruled that “as in the original trial, the plaintiffs’ legally protected rights were infringed upon with regard to the mental distress they suffered from March 11, 2011, the date of the accident, to December 31 of the same year, exceeding the acceptable limit of social life, and that they incurred increased living expenses during the above period. The court ordered TEPCO to pay compensation, stating that “it is reasonable to award compensation in the amount of 300,000 yen, taking into consideration the fact that the plaintiffs’ living expenses increased during the above-mentioned period. 
 TEPCO filed a “petition for appeal and acceptance of appeal” to the Supreme Court, but in March of this year, the third Petty Bench of the Supreme Court unanimously decided by five judges that “the case will not be accepted as an appeal hearing. The decision of the Sendai High Court, which recognized the plaintiffs’ emotional damages, became final. The decision came after eight years, including the period of preparation prior to the filing of the lawsuit, and eleven years since the nuclear accident occurred.

December 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

The compensation standards for voluntary evacuees from the nuclear power plant accident will finally be reviewed on May 5, and there are concerns about whether the standards will be commensurate with the actual situation.

Members of the Nuclear Damage Dispute Review Committee (front) interviewing victims in the evacuation zone (back) at the town hall of Okuma Town, Fukushima Prefecture, in August.

December 4, 2022
The government’s Dispute Coordination Committee for Nuclear Damage (CALI) will discuss compensation for “areas subject to voluntary evacuation,” which are defined by the guidelines as areas within 30-100 km of the nuclear power plant, at its meeting on December 5. While some victims have voiced their appreciation for the review, others have criticized the slow response and inadequate relief. (Natsuko Katayama)
 The trigger for the review was a judicial decision. In March, the Supreme Court rejected TEPCO’s appeal in seven class action lawsuits filed by victims of the nuclear accident against the government and TEPCO, ordering TEPCO to pay damages that exceeded the guidelines. The final ruling in the Fukushima lawsuit, which was contested by approximately 3,650 people in and outside of Fukushima Prefecture, approved an additional maximum of 3 million yen per person.
 In response, the CALI finally decided on November 10 to review the guidelines. New compensation targets, such as “severe evacuation conditions” in evacuation-directed zones, will be added. On the other hand, the review of voluntary evacuation zones and other areas is likely to be limited to a very small portion.

Guntaro Managi, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the Fukushima lawsuit, commented, “The fact that there has been a move to review the lawsuit is a result of the class action lawsuit, but it is too late to wait for the Supreme Court decision. The review is too late,” said Ittaro Managi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Fukushima lawsuits.
◆Discrimination and bullying at evacuation centers, and many times “I want to die
 In the review of the “interim guidelines” for compensation standards by the CALI, one of the issues presented so far is the focus on “areas subject to voluntary evacuation, etc.” The court made a partial judicial decision on children and pregnant women. This is because the CALI Board is cautious about reviewing the guidelines for children and pregnant women, even though some judicial decisions have approved compensation amounts higher than the guidelines. The review for adults is also inadequate, and some of the victims are concerned about whether the amount of compensation will be commensurate with the damage.
 We want them to listen to us, who were children at the time of the accident, even now,” said one victim. A female student at a vocational school, 18, who evacuated to another prefecture from the voluntary evacuation zone, said, “I would like you to listen to our stories, even now.
 She was in the first grade at the time of the accident. She suffered discrimination and bullying at the evacuation site. Radiation” and “Fukushima is dirty. Her father worked in Fukushima and commuted to the evacuation site on weekends, while her mother was busy raising their young children. Not wanting to cause worry to her parents, she kept to herself, unable to confide in them. I wanted to die” she thought many times.
 Before deciding on the review policy, the CALI committee members heard from residents in the evacuation zone, but only asked the head of the municipality for his opinion on the voluntary evacuation zone. The committee members said, “We don’t want you to make a decision as if you knew about the damage we have suffered without hearing from the people involved. We are concerned that the review will be far removed from the actual situation.
 In several court decisions, children and pregnant women in the voluntary evacuation zone have been awarded compensation that exceeds the guidelines, but the CALI is cautious about a review. If the guidelines had been reviewed at the most difficult time, I would have felt that they recognized my suffering and saved my life…” he said.

In its review of the issue, the CALI Board stated that adults in the voluntary evacuation zone are not considered to be more sensitive to radiation than children and pregnant women, and that fear of exposure alone is not sufficient to warrant compensation. On the other hand, the court acknowledged the combined fear of continued accidents and further spread of radioactive contamination, and considered extending the period of compensation.
 The plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit in Niigata Prefecture, who had been suing the government for damages for the accident, said that the Supreme Court’s decision was too late to review the case. Masashi Kanno, 48, a plaintiff in the class action lawsuit in Niigata Prefecture, evacuated from Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture, which is in the voluntary evacuation zone, to Niigata City, where he still lives with his family. He said, “I can’t imagine how much fear and heartache the parents must have felt worrying about their children without any knowledge of radiation. I don’t care if the compensation period is extended without hearing from the people involved and without a proper acknowledgement of the damage.
 Although the CALI tribunal has ruled that damages other than those covered by the guidelines can be compensated through alternative dispute resolution (ADR), there have been a number of cases where TEPCO has rejected settlement proposals because of the gap between the guidelines and the CALI tribunal. Mr. Kanno said, “The guidelines are supposed to be the ‘minimum standards for compensation,’ but TEPCO has set them as the ‘upper limit’ for compensation. Why didn’t TEPCO investigate the actual situation and take action sooner?
 Regardless of the outcome of the trial, he believes that the government itself should have reviewed the guidelines. I hope that this time, the government will seriously review the damage, rather than just saying that it has reviewed the situation.

December 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Concrete melted off ‘pedestal’ for damaged reactor in Fukushima

Rebars in the pedestal, which are normally covered with concrete, are seen exposed inside the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. (Provided by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning and Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd.)

November 30, 2022

The concrete support foundation for a reactor whose core melted down at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has deteriorated so much that reinforcing bars (rebars) are now exposed.

Masao Uchibori, governor of Fukushima Prefecture, has expressed concerns about the earthquake resistance of the “pedestal” for the No. 1 reactor at the crippled plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).

Strong quakes struck off the coast of the prefecture in 2021 and 2022.

“There have been events that caused anxieties among residents of our prefecture, including damage to the foundation supporting the No. 1 reactor’s pressure vessel,” Uchibori told a prefectural assembly session in September. “We will check up on TEPCO’s efforts so the decommissioning work will proceed safely and steadily.”

The cylindrical pedestal, whose wall is 1.2 meters thick, is 6 meters in diameter. It supports the reactor’s 440-ton pressure vessel.

The interior of the No. 1 reactor’s containment vessel was inspected in May for TEPCO’s eventual plans to retrieve the melted nuclear fuel that dropped to the bottom of the vessel during the 2011 nuclear disaster.

The study found that the normally concrete-encased rebars were bare and the upper parts were covered in sediment that could be nuclear fuel debris.

The concrete likely melted off under the high temperature of the debris.

The International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID), an entity set up by power utilities and nuclear reactor manufacturers, conducted a simulation in fiscal 2016.

IRID said seismic resistance would remain uncompromised even if about one-quarter of the pedestal was damaged.

However, only a part of the pedestal was inspected during the May study, and only from the outside.

The pedestal’s inside remains a mystery.

“The pedestal’s soundness is of foremost concern,” said Kiyoshi Takasaka, a former engineer with Toshiba Corp. who is now an adviser to the Fukushima prefectural government on nuclear safety issues. “It is important to first inspect the pedestal from the inside.”

TEPCO has prepared six types of robots to detect the fuel debris and perform other tasks in a series of inspections at the No. 1 reactor.

An internal study of the pedestal is planned toward the March end of the fiscal year as the final mission during the inspections. The task carries the risk of the robot hitting the sediment or other obstacles and being unable to return.

“We understand people’s concerns very well,” Akira Ono, president of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., told a news conference in October. “We hope to finish studies inside the pedestal by the end of this fiscal year.”

He said his company will scrutinize whether the previous assessment of seismic resistance is still applicable.

Haruo Morishige, who has been studying the Fukushima nuclear disaster, called for immediate emergency safety measures, such infusing concrete to reinforce the pedestal.

“There is a critical defect in terms of quake resistance,” said Morishige, based on a photo showing the interior of the No. 1 reactor. 

Morishige studied aseismic structural design for nuclear reactors when he worked for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.

He also served as an on-site manager for the No. 3 reactor at the Ikata nuclear plant operated by Shikoku Electric Power Co., including when the reactor was being built.

The photo, released following the May inspection, shows how concrete covering the cylindrical “inner skirt” of the pedestal had melted off, laying bare part of the steel frame and rebars from the bottom to the top.

The inner skirt’s functions connect the reactor pressure vessel with the containment vessel. But the melting of the concrete has separated the pressure vessel from the containment vessel, and weakened the structure’s quake resistance, Morishige said.

The loss of concrete has also decoupled the pedetal’s walls from the floor, making it more prone to sway during seismic events, he added.

Morishige said that all concrete around the rebars inside the pedestal has likely melted away.

He also said fuel debris that flowed out from an aperture likely melted concrete around rebars over about a quarter of the outside circumference of the pedestal.

His simulation has shown that the support capability of the pedestal is now about three-eighths of the original level.

“In such a state, the reactor could topple over in an earthquake of upper 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale (of 7),” Morishige said.

He added that repeated exposure to seismic shocks could cause cracks in the remaining concrete, further undermining quake resistance.

“The very fact there are chances of the reactor toppling is unacceptable,” he said. “Officials should proceed with safety measures and inspections at the same time.”

(This article was written by Keitaro Fukuchi and Tetsuya Kasai.)

December 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Ministry’s action plan drops nuclear policies set after 3/11

Local officials want new reactors to replace the two retired units at the front of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture.

November 29, 2022

The industry ministry proposed building new nuclear reactors to replace retired ones and effectively extending their operating lives beyond 60 years, a reversal of policies set after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The proposals were presented to the ministry’s advisory council, the Nuclear Energy Subcommittee, at a meeting on Nov. 28 as a draft action plan for the Kishida administration’s slogan to “make maximum use of nuclear energy.”

Although many subcommittee members endorsed the proposals, some members said not enough time was spent on discussing such a major change in energy policy.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in August issued a directive to a special government panel tasked with decarbonizing Japan to review the current nuclear energy policy.

The government has maintained that “for now,” it does not expect construction of new nuclear plants or a replacement of any reactor.

Because of opposition expected from local governments, the plan also did not propose building nuclear plants in areas that have never hosted such facilities or adding new reactors to existing plants.

But under the action plan, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry states that construction of new reactors “will begin with those replacing retired ones,” giving utilities the green light to build reactors to take the place of those being decommissioned.

The ministry is also seeking “advanced light water reactors” as replacement units, expecting them to start operating in the 2030s. They will each come with an estimated price tag of at least 500 billion yen ($3.57 billion). 

Such reactors have enhanced safety features and are an extension of current nuclear technologies, the ministry said.

The action plan also pushes for a system that will effectively extend the life cycle of reactors beyond the maximum of 60 years set under rules adopted after the 2011 triple meltdown.

It suggests that often lengthy periods when reactors are offline for examinations by the Nuclear Regulation Authority on whether they meet standards for restarts be excluded from the 60-year limit.

In addition, the time frame should not include periods when reactor operations are suspended because of lawsuits, the ministry said.

Under those proposals, a reactor that has been idle for 10 years for those reasons could operate for up to 70 years since it first went into service.

The proposed exclusions from the 60-year limit have been criticized as “taking the teeth from” the rigorous reactor regulations set in 2013.

One subcommittee member said the exclusions are “akin to ditching the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident.”

The action plan also called for a new system to provide grants to local governments that promote the use of recycled nuclear fuel at facilities in their jurisdictions.

This is meant to give some leverage to the nation’s trouble-plagued nuclear fuel cycle policy.

Although the action plan represents a sweeping policy change, it does not directly deal with a slew of challenges that have remained unsolved for decades.

For example, it is unclear when the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant under construction in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, a key component in the nuclear fuel cycle program, will go into operations.

Under the program, plutonium retrieved from spent nuclear fuel from across Japan will be recycled as fuel for use at nuclear plants.

The completion date of the reprocessing plant has been pushed back 26 times so far. Around 14 trillion yen has been invested in the project.

Another big headache for the central government is securing a final disposal site for highly radioactive nuclear waste from nuclear power plants across the country.

Two small municipalities in Hokkaido have shown an interest in hosting such a storage facility in exchange for generous grants.

But the Hokkaido governor is opposed to the plan. And no other local governments in Japan have come forward as potential final disposal sites.

The ministry’s action plan did not list any specific proposals to resolve these issues. It merely said: “The state should bolster efforts to gain the understanding” of the public to the nuclear policy.

December 4, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plaintiffs claim that the wide-area evacuation plan is ineffective.

November 28, 2022

On November 28, a lawsuit filed by residents of the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant seeking an injunction against the restart of the No. 2 reactor at Tohoku Electric Power Company’s Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant was concluded. The verdict will be handed down in May next year.

On the 28th, the plaintiffs made their final statements in oral arguments at the Sendai District Court. The plaintiffs again argued that the “wide-area evacuation plan” formulated by the prefectural government and others is ineffective because it does not include specific details about the inspection sites that would be set up along evacuation routes in the event of an accident to check residents’ radiation exposure, including the securing of personnel and materials and equipment.

Mr. Nobuo Hara, leader of the plaintiffs: “How ineffective is the wide-area evacuation plan?
Mr. Nobuo Hara, leader of the plaintiffs’ group: “We have shown how ineffective the wide-area evacuation plan is. The most realistic way to stop the restart of nuclear power plants is to obtain a ruling that nuclear power plants must not be restarted under the evacuation plan. It is the firm belief of the plaintiffs that such a ruling will be reached.”

The trial will conclude on May 28, and the verdict will be handed down on May 24 next year. Tohoku Electric Power aims to restart the Onagawa Unit 2 reactor in February 2024.

December 4, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan studies plan to extend life of 60-year-old nuclear plants

The No. 3 unit at the Mihama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, the first reactor in Japan to operate beyond the 40-year service period. The No. 1 and No. 2 units of the plant will be decommissioned.

Nov 28, 2022

Japan will consider keeping some nuclear reactors operating beyond a current 60-year limit as the country focuses increasingly on atomic power as a solution to an ongoing squeeze on energy supply.

Officials are studying a plan to exclude periods when reactors were offline from an existing limit on their lifespan, which would allow some facilities to operate for longer, according to a document released Monday by a trade ministry panel. Reactors are often halted for years to allow the nation’s nuclear watchdog to perform inspections, or as a result of legal challenges.

Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami, Japan introduced stricter safety standards limiting the operation of nuclear reactors to 40 years in principle.

But operation for an additional 20 years is possible if safety upgrades are made and a reactor passes screening by regulators.

The proposal to allow operations beyond the 60-year limit comes as Japan’s public and government shift back in favor of nuclear power, despite experiencing one of the worst atomic meltdown disasters. The import-dependent country has this year grappled with more expensive fossil fuel prices as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, along with a weak yen, and seen its stretched power grid put under severe pressure.

The government has repeatedly asked people to take steps to limit their electricity consumption, by using fewer appliances or cutting back on heating.

In August, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the government will explore developing and constructing new reactors, and that it will also aim to restart seven more idled reactors from next summer.

The trade ministry proposals also call for new, next-generation nuclear reactors to be built at sites where existing units will be decommissioned.

Japanese manufacturers have announced plans to develop next-generation reactors this year. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is jointly developing an advanced light water reactor with four other Japanese power producers, while a venture between Hitachi and General Electric is also reported to be developing a new reactor model.

December 4, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , | 1 Comment

Evacuation of Iitate Village’s Nagadori District, Fukushima Prefecture, to be lifted in May.

November 21, 2022
Iitate Village, Fukushima Prefecture, has begun coordinating with the national government to lift the evacuation order for a specific restoration base area (restoration base) in the Nagadori administrative district, a hard-to-return zone following the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, by the major holidays in May of next year. The government plans to lift the evacuation order for a part of the area outside the restoration center as a park area to check the reduction of radiation levels in the air at the same time as the area inside the restoration center. This is the first time that the government has announced the lifting of evacuation orders for areas outside of the restoration centers in the difficult-to-return zones established by the nuclear accident.

 On March 20, after a briefing session for residents of the Nagadori area in Fukushima City, Village Mayor Makoto Sugioka made the announcement to the press. The village has been saying that it aims to lift the restrictions next spring. The village is expected to decide on a specific date after the final report by the village’s decontamination verification committee scheduled for January next year and after the end of March.

 The difficult-to-return zone in the village covers approximately 1080 hectares, of which about 186 hectares are restoration sites. The village plans to construct a meeting place for short-term stays and exchanges, a multipurpose ground, and public restrooms.

 According to the village, the park area covers about 0.64 hectares of land in the Kyakuta district. No playground equipment is planned. The village will continue to measure radiation levels to see how they decrease.

December 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

Expert panel full of proponents of nuclear power plants to discuss direction on March 28th, extending operation period and developing next-generation models, rushing to conclusion on “Prime Minister’s directive.

Basic policy subcommittee discusses extending the operational period of nuclear power plants in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo.

November 27, 2022
The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) will present its direction on measures to utilize nuclear power plants, including the extension of the operating period of nuclear power plants, which is stipulated as “40 years in principle, with a maximum of 60 years,” and the development and construction of next-generation nuclear power plants, at the “Nuclear Energy Subcommittee,” a meeting of experts on November 28. Discussions will reach their final stage about three months after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida ordered the committee to study the issue in August. However, the committee did not solicit opinions from the public before reaching a conclusion, and its deliberations were noticeably more hasty than past energy policy debates. (The discussion has been held in a very slow pace compared to past energy policy debates.)
◆Draft government policy at several subcommittee meetings
Of the 21 members of the Atomic Energy Subcommittee, which discusses nuclear energy policy, only two, including Hajime Matsukubo, executive director of the NPO Nuclear Data and Information Office, have made negative statements about nuclear power at recent meetings. In the discussion on extending the operating period, many committee members called for removing the maximum 60-year limit, and at the meeting on March 28, METI is expected to push for a proposal to exclude from the number of years of operation the period during which a nuclear power plant is shut down to undergo a review before it can be restarted, without removing the limit in consideration of public outcry.
 The contents of the Nuclear Energy Subcommittee’s deliberations will be discussed by the Basic Policy Subcommittee, which brings together expert panels on energy policy, and the conclusions of the subcommittee will serve as a draft of the government policy.
 At the meeting on March 15, Ms. Chisato Murakami, an advisor on consumer affairs, commented, “The use of nuclear power plants will not directly lead to an end to the tight power supply and demand situation. I would like to propose that we take time to deepen the national debate.” She objected to the way the discussion was proceeding, but no other opinions were expressed calling for a reconsideration.
The subcommittee has met twice so far. The committee is expected to hold one or two more meetings before the end of the year to reach a conclusion, after which public comments will be sought.
◆Energy Basic Plan to be discussed 17 times and opinions solicited via the Internet
 The previous energy policy discussions were different.
In the discussion of the “Sixth Basic Energy Plan,” a medium- to long-term guideline for energy policy formulated last October, subcommittee meetings were held 17 times over a period of 10 months. In addition, an opinion box was set up on the website during the discussions in order to listen to the opinions of the public at large. The opinions received were submitted as materials to each of the subcommittee meetings for consideration. In total, about 640 opinions were collected, with about 300 calling for a nuclear power phase-out, while about 80 supported the promotion of nuclear power.
 At that time, members of the subcommittee expressed the opinion that extending the operational period of nuclear power plants and building new plants were necessary to realize a decarbonized society by 2050, but this was not explicitly stated in the basic plan. The policy of “reducing dependence on nuclear power plants as much as possible,” which came to be stated after the Fukushima accident, was also maintained.
◆Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) official: “The directive to reach a conclusion by the end of the year cannot take too much time.
 The government has been stressing the use of nuclear power plants against the backdrop of the recent tight power supply and demand and soaring fuel prices. However, the development of next-generation nuclear power plants, for example, will take a long time and will not be a quick fix, so there is no need to reach a hasty conclusion. Even after Murakami pointed out this contradiction at the subcommittee meeting, a METI official told the interviewer, “We cannot take too much time because [Prime Minister Kishida] has instructed us to reach a conclusion by the end of the year. We will come up with a direction as soon as possible.
 Mr. Matsukubo commented, “This is a heavy-handed way of proceeding, not listening to the public and having the Council of Eminent Persons decide what the government wants to do. The government’s policy of making nuclear power a given may narrow the scope for the introduction of renewable energies in the future.

December 4, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Tohoku Electric Applies for 32.94% Increase in Electricity Rates for Households, Effective Next April

President Higuchi announces application to raise electricity rates for households.

November 24, 2022
On November 24, Tohoku Electric Power applied to the government for a 32.94% average increase in regulated electricity rates for households. This is the first time since February 2013 that the company has applied for a price increase to revise basic rates and electricity unit prices. The increase is the third largest in history. The free electricity rates for households, which do not require government approval, will also be raised by an average of 7.69%, both of which are scheduled to go into effect on April 1 next year. This is the first time that a major electric power company has applied for a price hike due to soaring fuel costs caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other factors.

At a press conference held in Sendai City on April 24, President Kojiro Higuchi said, “The current electricity revenues will not be sufficient to cover fixed costs, and if this situation continues, we will not be able to procure fuel stably or invest sufficiently in power facilities. We are deeply sorry that we are applying for a large price increase, but we hope you will understand.

 The regulated rates will increase both the basic rate and the unit price of electricity. The amount of electricity used is divided into three levels, and the more electricity is used, the larger the increase. In the case of the model case (contract type: “metered electric light B,” contract current: 30 amperes, electricity consumption: 260 kWh), the monthly fee will increase by 2,717 yen to 11,282 yen.

 The total cost of fuel, labor, and other costs calculated for the application averaged 2.1636 trillion yen over the 23-25 year period, an increase of 1.4 times the 1.5067 trillion yen from 13-15, the basis for the current rate setting. Rising fuel costs and the cost of procuring electricity through markets and other means account for most of this increase.

 The restart of Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant Unit 2 (Onagawa Town, Miyagi Prefecture, and Ishinomaki City), scheduled for February 2012, was also factored into the cost calculation. The plant will be able to reduce the amount of fuel it buys, which will lead to an annual cost reduction of about 100 billion yen, and Higuchi said that the price increase will be curbed by about 5%.

 In order to compress the price increase, the plan also included 115.9 billion yen in management efficiency improvements. In addition to the initiatives already undertaken, such as more efficient fuel procurement, the company will reduce the number of employees by curtailing new hiring and extend the periodic inspection cycle of thermal power plants.

 The METI’s expert panel will review the application. In Tohoku Electric’s previous application, the actual price increase was reduced after discussions on whether the calculation of the total cost was appropriate.

 The average increase in free rates for households is smaller than the regulated rates because the system was changed in December to reflect fuel price fluctuations without a cap, based on the fuel cost adjustment system.
President Higuchi’s Painful Decision to Ensure a Stable Supply

 The following is a question-and-answer session with Tohoku Electric Power President Kojiro Higuchi, who announced the application for an increase in electricity rates for households.

 -The increase will place a heavy burden on households.

 With not only electricity rates but also prices rising, it is distressing to see the increase. I hope you understand that this is a difficult decision to make in order to ensure a stable supply of electricity.

 -How do you plan to improve management efficiency?

 We will reduce repair costs by extending the inspection cycle for thermal power plants and reduce fuel costs by reducing spot procurement as much as possible. In terms of personnel reduction, we will consider consolidating our sales offices.

 We have already reduced executive compensation by up to 20% linked to performance and voluntarily returned up to 10% of corporate rates.

 -Other major electric power companies are also planning to apply for price increases.

 The biggest difference between us and other companies is the two earthquakes that occurred off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture last year and this year. (The biggest difference between us and other companies is the two earthquakes off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture last year and this year, which knocked out power (from several thermal power plants) and increased the cost of restoration.

 -The deregulation of the electric power industry was supposed to lower electricity prices through competition.

 However, the unexpected rise in fuel costs, such as this one, cannot be absorbed through friendly competition among power providers. Tohoku Electric is expensive, but new power companies are not cheap, and we believe that we are now in a state of emergency.

December 4, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment