Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa nuclear power plant straddling Miyagi Prefecture’s Onagawa and Ishinomaki
Plans to resume operations at the Onagawa nuclear power plant’s No. 2 reactor have taken a hit, as the building sustained 1,130 cracks in the walls and lost an estimated 70 percent of structural rigidity in the massive 2011 earthquake.
Tohoku Electric Power Co. revealed the extent of the damage at a Nuclear Regulation Authority review meeting on Jan. 17 to investigate plans to bring the power station in Miyagi Prefecture back online.
Tohoku Electric plans to extensively reinforce the damaged No. 2 reactor building. It is seeking to bolster the quake-resistance of the reactor to pass the stricter safety regulations on nuclear plants instituted by the NRA in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, triggered by the disaster.
However, that may be a long way off, as the nuclear watchdog said that it must inspect the cracks and the plans before the utility can proceed with the reinforcement project.
As with all nuclear power stations in the nation, the facility, which straddles the town of Onagawa and Ishinomaki city, went offline after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami sparked the nuclear disaster.
A tremor of 607 Gals was recorded at the No. 2 reactor building when the magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck, but the structure was only built to withstand jolts of up to 594 Gals, according to Tohoku Electric. (Gal is a unit of acceleration used to describe how violently something shakes.)
A later architectural investigation found a total of 1,130 cracks on its walls, with 734 of them found on the top third-floor section. There were more cracks in the upper levels of the building as that part swayed the most during the earthquake.
The difference in the ways the uppermost section rocked compared to the lower portion when hit by aftershocks suggested that the structural rigidity of the third floor was down to 30 percent of what it was when the reactor began operating in 1995, according to the utility.
The lower section of the building, which covers two above-ground floors and three basement levels, was estimated to have lost 25 percent of its structural rigidity.
Structural rigidity assesses a building’s ability to withstand earthquakes and other stresses from outside without being distorted.
Japan’s environment ministry has lifted the radioactive designation it applied to a batch of waste after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.
About 200 kilograms of waste stored at a private facility in Yamagata Prefecture can now be disposed of as general waste.
People familiar with the matter say the radioactivity level of the waste was confirmed to be lower than the government-set level of 8,000 becquerels per kilogram.
The ministry said it sent a letter, dated January 13th, to notify the facility of its decision to lift the designation.
It is the first time the ministry has lifted the designation for waste kept by a private company in connection with the nuclear accident.
Last July, the ministry lifted the designation of radioactive waste stored in the city of Chiba, just outside Tokyo. It was the first case among municipalities storing radioactive waste from the Fukushima accident’s fallout.
Ministry officials say as of September 30th last year, there was about 179,000 tons of waste designated as radioactive across the country.
OMA, AOMORI PREF. – The mayor of Oma, Aomori Prefecture, who supports the construction of a local nuclear plant, was elected Sunday to a fourth term, defeating three first-time candidates.
The victory by Mitsuharu Kanazawa, a 66-year-old independent, came in the first mayoral voting in Oma in 16 years. In each of the past three races, he was handed a new four-year term since he ran unopposed.
Voter turnout came to 78.89 percent.
The main election issue was the ongoing project by Electric Power Development Co., better known as J-Power, to construct a nuclear plant in the town, with the start of operations slated for around fiscal 2024.
During the campaign, Kanazawa attracted voter support by highlighting the job-creation potential if the plant is constructed ahead of schedule.
Of the three challengers, Naofumi Nozaki, 61, a former town official, said Oma should not rely fully on the nuclear plant, while Hideki Sasaki, 67, called for a referendum on whether to go ahead with the project. The third, Atsuko Kumagai, 62, called outright for the project to be canceled.
Kanazawa garnered 2,081 votes while Nozaki gained 1,523. Sasaki received 79 votes and Kumagai got 34.
Warning, this is not the result of an official study but the findings of the personal study of Kikko, a blogger who took as a base the number of hospitalized patients. But again we cannot expect the Japanese government to officially advertize it: “The number of patients diagnosed with leukemia in 2015 was about 7 times higher than the previous year.”
From June 2015
Sharp increase in leukemia patients ~ Number of patients is about 7 times more than last year ~ Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Tokyo
According to the statistics of the National Public Medical Association from the hospitals of each prefecture, from April to October 2015, the number of patients diagnosed as “leukemia” was about seven times higher than in 2014.
About 60% or more of patients diagnosed with leukemia are acute leukemia,
Since 1978 when they began taking statistics, such high proportion never occured before.
About 80% of the patients are in the Tohoku and Kanto regions. Fukushima Prefecture is the largest, next, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Tokyo in that order.
Strontium 90 is the most probable cause. It acts inside the body as calcium so that it can be stored in bones and brain. It takes 2-3 years until symptoms develop. People inhaling it or ingesting it in foods such as milk, fish and meat.
The vast majority of Japan’s 42 viable commercial nuclear reactors have not had detailed checkups performed on the air conditioning and ventilation systems of their central control rooms, it has been learned.
According to Japan Atomic Power Co. and nine utilities that manage nuclear power plants, the checkups — conducted at only two of the plants so far — are carried out without removing the insulation on the pipes.
Last month, Chugoku Electric Power Co. found extensive corrosion and holes, including one measuring 30 cm by 100 cm, in the ventilation pipes of the No. 2 reactor at the Shimane nuclear plant in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture. It was the first time the utility had removed the covering on the pipes since the reactor booted up in 1989.
Concluding the pipes were not functioning properly, Chugoku Electric reported the degradation to the Nuclear Regulation Authority.
In the event of a accident, control rooms, which are staffed around the clock, must be self-contained to prevent outside air from entering.
Five reactors at the three nuclear plants that have been reactivated since 2015 have not undergone pipe inspections in which their insulation was removed. Of the five, the No. 1 reactor at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture and the No. 3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture are currently in operation.
Following the discovery of the pipe degradation at the Shimane No. 2 reactor, the NRA plans to check conditions at all of the nation’s nuclear plants, sources said.
Hokuriku Electric Power Co. detected rust in the ventilation pipes of the No. 1 reactor at its Shika nuclear plant in Ishikawa Prefecture in 2003. After removing the covers and conducting further inspections, the company replaced the equipment in 2008.
The NRA suspects that the pipe corrosion at the Shimane No. 2 reactor may violate nuclear regulatory standards, an official said.
“As the plant is located near the sea, salt-containing air may have flowed into the pipes and hastened corrosion,” a Chugoku Electric official said.
Most of the nation’s nuclear plants are in coastal areas because they use seawater to cool their turbines.
Operations of two reactors at the No. 4 nuclear power plant in New Taipei City have been put on hold.
TAIPEI–Taiwan enacted a revised law on Jan. 11 to phase out nuclear power generation by 2025 and increase renewables, a considerable challenge for this resource-poor island.
Departure from nuclear power was a campaign pledge of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who assumed office in May.
The bill met with no strong opposition during deliberations at the Legislative Yuan, or the Taiwanese parliament.
The legislation aims to raise the share of renewables, such as solar or wind power, from the current 4 percent to 20 percent of total output in 2025 by liberalizing the renewable energy market.
Electricity generated at three nuclear power stations account for about 14 percent of Taiwan’s electricity output. Operations have been frozen at a fourth nuclear power plant because of public outcry against nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The industrial sector and others have raised concerns about possible fluctuations in the power supply or a spike in utility rates in the coming years.
Another focal point of debate was disposal of radioactive waste kept at a facility in an outlying island.
The Executive Yuan, the equivalent of Japan’s Cabinet, sponsored the bill to revise the electricity utilities industry law to pave the way for a nuclear-free society.
Under the revised law, Taiwan Power Co., operator of all nuclear power plants in Taiwan, will be spun off into two companies: one in charge of power generation and the other overseeing electricity distribution.
All six reactors in Taiwan will reach their 40-year operation limit by May 2025. The No. 1 reactor at the No. 1 nuclear power plant will be the first to hit the limit, in December 2018.
The revised law ruled out the possibility of extending the lives of the reactors, stating that all reactors will end their operations by 2025.
Russia extends $11.38 bln loan to Bangladesh to build nuclear power plant http://tass.com/economy/925025 January 13 Bangladesh will repay the actually spent loan in equal six-month installments over a twenty year period MOSCOW, January 13. /TASS/. Russia’s government has extended a $11.38 billion loan to Bangladesh to build the Rooppur nuclear power plant. The relevant document was published on the government’s website containing legal information.
According to the draft inter-governmental agreement, the loan will be used from 2017 to 2024. Bangladesh will repay the actually spent loan in equal six-month installments over a twenty year period. The first installment will be paid out on March 15, 2017.
Two units of the Rooppur nuclear power plant, with a capacity of 1,200 MW each, which are being built with Russia’s assistance, are planned to be put into operation in 2022 and 2023.
In mid-December 2015, Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation signed an EPC contract for a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh.
The construction work is being done in accordance with the inter-governmental agreement on cooperation in building a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh, dated 2011. The nuclear power plant will be located on the eastern bank of the Ganges River, 160 kilometers from the country’s capital of Dhaka.
Taiwan to end nuclear power generation by 2025 http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20170112VL201.html Adam Hwang, DIGITIMES, Taipei [Thursday 12 January 2017]
Taiwan’s legislature has amended the Electricity Act, ending nuclear power generation in the country by 2025 and liberalizing the local electricity market.
Taiwan currently has three operational nuclear power plants.
The amendments stipulate the state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) go private and separate its business operations into independent electricity generation, distribution and sale business units in six to nine years.
The revamped law also gives renewable energy priority to go on grid and allows its direct sale from generators to users. Currently all electricity must be sold through Taipower.
The Taiwan government will establish an electricity price stabilization fund to prevent drastic fluctuations in electricity price.
Toshiba Loses Billions On U.S. Nuclear Write-Offs http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Toshiba-Loses-Billions-On-US-Nuclear-Write-Offs.html
But how can you lose several billion dollars, or ten times your principal investment, on a U.S. asset that you bought for $220 plus million? That’s the question that Toshiba executives are asking themselves.
The goodwill write off triggering this financial commotion relates to cost overruns at two U.S. nuclear construction sites, V.C Sumner and Vogtle in Georgia.
This announcement comes in the wake of a previous accounting scandal in which Toshiba was accused of inflating profits. After that, Toshiba seemed ready to raise more equity capital but held off. Now it looks as if the company will have to raise more money on even more dilutive terms for existing shareholders.
What prompted the sudden announcement and what does that announcement mean to the nuclear sector? Let’s go back to 2015. In that year, Toshiba’s Westinghouse subsidiary bought Stone & Webster (S&W), the nuclear construction and services company, from Chicago Bridge & Iron (CBI). It paid $229 million in cash for S&W, and estimated that goodwill, subject to writeoff, was under $87 million, with that number to be determined by December 31, 2016. Near the end of December, Westinghouse informed its corporate parent, Toshiba that “the cost to complete U.S. projects will far surpass the original estimates…leading to a possible recognition of goodwill far exceeding the original…estimate…current estimation shows a level of…several billion U.S. dollars….”
Toshiba is one of a handful of nuclear engineering and manufacturing firms in the world. Its Westinghouse unit produces one of the approved designs (AP 1000) for U.S. construction. Toshiba also owns one of the nuclear construction sites in the UK. If a firm of this size and expertise is surprised by the cost of nuclear construction, that is not a good sign.
But from a financial perspective, if a firm of Toshiba’s size, and one of the premier nuclear engineering firms in the world, is in financial straits due to nuclear overruns, just how big and how accurate in project costing does a firm need to be to take on the risks of nuclear construction? Due to the size of the projects, no small firm can ever take them on. But will the point come when not even large firms execute a nuclear project unless an even larger entity, such as the federal government or the ratepayers over a wide area, guarantees payment of all cost overruns?
Toshiba’s difficulties may reverberate beyond Tokyo’s financial district. They call into question the ability of the most expert of firms to evaluate the risks of what has become bespoke nuclear construction. That will raise costs for new nuclear power since paying a return “of and on” capital is still its biggest cost.
North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons: Under Kim Jong Un, Plutonium Stockpile Has Reached Unprecedented Levels, International Business Times, BY ON 01/12/17 In the past two years, North Korea has steadily increased its supply of plutonium and now has enough for 10 nuclear warheads, according to a report this week from the South Korean Ministry of National Defense. In all, South Korea’s 2016 Defense White Paper found that the North had increased its supply of weapons -grade plutonium to 50 kilograms, up from 40 kilograms two years ago, the Korea Times reported. The plutonium was obtained by reprocessing spent fuel rods.
Under the dictatorial rule of leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea has focused on developing its nuclear arsenal. More recently, North Korea has worked toward developing a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that would be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
The increased stockpile comes amid continued threats from Kim. In a New Year’s speech, Kim provoked the West — the United States and South Korea especially — and claimed an ICBM was nearing completion…….
Should the North develop a reliable ICBM, it would likely have the capability of reaching the United States. A working ICBM could still be a ways off, however…….http://www.ibtimes.com/north-koreas-nuclear-weapons-under-kim-jong-un-plutonium-stockpile-has-reached-2474439
Nuclear plant official’s widow: ‘Monju was not worth dying for’ Asahi Shimbun By KEISHI NISHIMURA/ Staff Writer January 12, 2017 A question has haunted Toshiko Nishimura since she saw her husband’s swollen body in a hospital 21 years ago.
“What did he die for?”
Her husband, Shigeo, was a deputy chief of the general affairs department at Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corp. (PNC).
His duties changed significantly after a fire and sodium leak occurred at PNC’s Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, on Dec. 8, 1995.
Shigeo was put in charge of the internal investigation of the suspected cover-up over the accident.
PNC, now the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), entered the plant twice on the day after the incident and took video recordings of the damage.
However, the company only released the second video to the public, and that footage was heavily edited to cover up the extent of the accident.
On the morning of Jan. 12, 1996, Toshiko made a cup of coffee for her husband as usual, but he left for work without drinking it.
That evening, Shigeo appeared at a news conference to explain the sodium leak. Through his investigation, he and others knew the truth about the videos, but he gave false statements to the media about when the video footage came to the knowledge of PNC managers.
After the news conference, Shigeo is believed to have jumped to his death from the eighth floor of a hotel where he was staying. He was 49.
Toshiko, now 70, could not believe her husband would kill himself. Just days before his death, during the New Year break, their son announced his wedding plans.
Shigeo left a letter to his wife, but it did not mention the reason for the suicide.
PNC could not provide a satisfactory explanation to Toshiko, so she asked police officers, hospital workers, hotel staff and people at other places.
In 2004, she took legal action against the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute, the successor of PNC, thinking that the testimonies of workers would give a clear account of what Shigeo was going through before his death.
But no details were revealed, and she lost the case.
She also joined an “anti-Monju movement” because she “could not forgive Monju for continuing to run at the sacrifice of human life.”
The Monju reactor, plagued by numerous problems, has proved a costly failure in the government’s plans for a nuclear fuel recycling program…..
Toshiko, meanwhile, is still involved in a lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court, demanding the return of her husband’s personal belongings that he left at the hotel.
She says she wants to tell Shigeo, “Monju was not worth dying for.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701120001.html
By TATSUYUKI KOBORI/ Staff Writer January 11, 2017 Coral bleaching has killed 70.1 percent of the nation’s largest coral reef as of the end of 2016, up from 56.7 percent just a few months earlier, the Environment Ministry said.
Warmer seawater temperatures last summer are believed to have caused coral bleaching to spread to 90 percent of the Sekiseishoko coral reef in Okinawa Prefecture…….http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701110028.html
China Is Building Britain ANOTHER Nuclear Reactor, Daily Caller ANDREW FOLLETT Energy and Science Reporter 12 Jan 17 Britain’s nuclear regulators are considering whether another Chinese-funded and designed nuclear reactor should be built in Bradwell, Essex.
Toshiba may face still heavier losses in U.S. nuclear business: source http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/12/business/corporate-business/toshiba-may-face-heavier-losses-u-s-nuclear-business-source/#.WHfi9NJ97Gg KYODO Toshiba Corp. anticipates that total losses at its nuclear business in the United States could be larger than earlier stated due to a write-down at its subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Co., a source familiar with the matter said Wednesday.
The development may further taint the financial standing of the company that has been battling to overcome a massive window-dressing scandal.
Toshiba is finalizing the size of an impairment loss at Westinghouse, which could reach tens of billions of yen, ahead of the release of its group earnings report for the April to December period in mid-February, the source said.
Last month Toshiba said it may need to write down the value of assets at CB&I Stone & Webster Inc., a nuclear plant builder Westinghouse obtained in 2015, possibly by several hundred billion yen.
Toshiba believes the devaluation of CB&I Stone & Webster may have seriously undermined the value of Westinghouse, the source said.
The source said Toshiba estimated the final write down in connection with U.S. nuclear plant operations may reach up to ¥500 billion as of the end of last year, but the total amount could change as the company combed through their financial data.
Toshiba has been focusing on nuclear energy operations as its core business but has been struggling to win orders for new power plants both at home and abroad, particularly after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The company booked an impairment loss of about ¥250 billion in its U.S. nuclear business in the last fiscal year through March 2016.
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