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Fukushima: Japan attempts to safely remove nuclear fuel from crippled reactors

DW 22.09.2022, Julian Ryall (Tokyo)

More than a decade after the second-worst nuclear disaster in history, engineers want to construct a huge water-filled tank around one of the damaged reactors and carry out underwater dismantling work.

Nuclear experts pondering the safest way to decommission the three crippled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi atomic energy plant have devised a new plan to recover highly radioactive debris at the site, with even anti-nuclear campaigners giving the proposal their qualified support.  

They warn, however, that the situation at the plant — on the northeast coast of Japan— remains precarious more than a decade since three of the six reactors suffered meltdowns after an offshore earthquake of magnitude 9 triggered a series of powerful tsunamis.  

In their latest annual strategy report on progress at the plant, experts at the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Office (NDF) have proposed the construction and filling with water of a massive concrete tank to completely enclose one of the reactor buildings. ………………………………………. more https://www.dw.com/en/fukushima-japan-attempts-to-safely-remove-nuclear-fuel-from-crippled-reactors/a-63200659

September 22, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un says North Korea’s new law allowing pre-emptive nuclear strikes is ‘irreversible’

North Korea has officially enshrined the right to use pre-emptive nuclear strikes to protect itself in a new law.

Key points:

  • The new law makes North Korea’s nuclear status “irreversible”, and bars denuclearisation talks
  • It also allows for pre-emptive nuclear strikes if, among other things, there is an imminent attack against its leadership
  • Analysts say the goal is to win international acceptance of the country’s status as a “responsible nuclear state”

The country’s leader Kim Jong Un said the legislation also made its nuclear status “irreversible” and bars denuclearisation talks, state media reported on Friday.

The move comes as observers say North Korea appears to be preparing to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017, after historic summits with former US president Donald Trump and other world leaders in 2018 failed to persuade Kim to end weapons development.

The North’s parliament — the Supreme People’s Assembly — passed the legislation on Thursday, according to state news agency KCNA.

The new legislation is a replacement to a 2013 law which first outlined the country’s nuclear status…………………………

Pre-emptive strikes

The original 2013 law stipulated that North Korea could use nuclear weapons to repel invasion or attack by a hostile nuclear state, and make retaliatory strikes.

The new law goes beyond that to allow for pre-emptive nuclear strikes if an imminent attack by weapons of mass destruction or against the country’s “strategic targets”, including its leadership, is detected.

“In a nutshell, there are some really vague and ambiguous circumstances in which North Korea is now saying it might use its nuclear weapons,” Chad O’Carroll, founder of the North Korea-tracking website NK News, said on Twitter.

Like the earlier law, the new version vows not to threaten non-nuclear states with nuclear weapons unless they join with a nuclear-armed country to attack the North.

The new law adds, however, that it can launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike if it detects an imminent attack of any kind aimed at North Korea’s leadership and the command organisation of its nuclear forces.

That is an apparent reference to South Korea’s “Kill Chain” strategy, which calls for pre-emptive strikes on North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure and command system if an imminent attack is suspected…………….

Under the law, Mr Kim has “all decisive powers” over nuclear weapons, but if the command and control system is threatened, then nuclear weapons may be launched “automatically”.

If Mr Kim delegates launch authority to lower commanders during a crisis, that could increase the chances of a catastrophic miscalculation, analysts said.

‘Responsible nuclear state’

The law bans any sharing of nuclear arms or technology with other countries, and is aimed at reducing the danger of a nuclear war by preventing miscalculations among nuclear weapons states and misuse of nuclear weapons, KCNA reported.

Analysts say Mr Kim’s goal is to win international acceptance of North Korea’s status as a “responsible nuclear state.”…………………….. more https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-09-09/new-north-korea-law-outlines-nuclear-weapons-use-including-preem/101425072

September 20, 2022 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

40% of Japan’s nuclear plant staff lack experiences of reactivation

By Takashi Maemura and Ayaka Matsuo / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers, September 18, 2022

Nearly 40% of the operations staff at the seven electric power companies that have not yet restarted their nuclear power plants since 2011 have no experience with reactors, a Yomiuri Shimbun survey found.

That group includes Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc., the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant that had an accident during the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

Because progress to restart their reactors has been slow, these power companies have sought to maintain their personnel’s skills by dispatching staff to nuclear power plants and thermal power plants operated by other companies.

Currently, only Kansai Electric Power Co., Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Shikoku Electric Power Co. have been able to restart some reactors…………………………………..

Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Shimane nuclear power plant Reactor No. 2, which is currently shut down, has passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety examinations, which took about seven years and eight months to complete.

However, the Shimane nuclear power plant has been shut down for more than 10 years, and 41 out of its 107 operators, or 38%, have no experience operating a nuclear power plant. In light of this, Chugoku Electric Power has begun training them this fiscal year, asking Makino, a former operator with more than 30 years of experience, to serve as an instructor.

September 20, 2022 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Sendai and Genkai nuclear power stations in the path of powerful Typhoon Nanmadol

Strong Typhoon Nanmadol feared to hit southwest Japan’s Kyushu on Sept. 18

Close to Sendai and Genkai nuclear power stations

Record-breaking rainfall+violent winds – peak gusts at 270kph

FUKUOKA  https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220917/p2a/00m/0na/010000c

Large and powerful Typhoon Nanmadol is predicted to approach southwestern Japan’s Kyushu region and make landfall there between Sept. 18 and 19.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the 14th typhoon of the year was moving northwestward at a speed of about 20 kilometers per hour over the sea some 190 kilometers east of Minamidaito Island at 9 a.m. on Sept. 17. The tropical storm had a central atmospheric pressure of 910 hectopascals. The maximum sustained wind speed near its center was 198 kph, with peak gusts at 270 kph. Violent winds at a speed of 90 kph or more were recorded within a 185-km radius on the east and a 150-km radius on the west of the storm’s center.

Many parts of Japan may be affected by the typhoon for extended periods of time as it is moving slowly while maintaining its strength. It is feared that the storm could cause record-breaking rainfall and violent winds through Sept. 19, the last day of the three-day weekend, primarily in west Japan and along the Pacific coast of east Japan. The JMA is calling on people to refrain from unnecessary outings.

(Japanese original by Azusa Yamazaki, Kyushu News Department)

September 20, 2022 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Russian state firm signs $9.1bn loan deal to fund nuclear plant in Turkey

Rosatom, which has been wiring money to Ankara to shore up Turkey’s depleted foreign currency reserves, signs deal with Gazprombank, Ragip Soylu, Antalya, Turkey, 16 September 2022

Russian state-owned company signed a $9.1bn loan deal with Gazprombank in August to fund the construction and development of Turkey’s Akkuyu nuclear power plant, according to the official documents. 

In a public announcement on Wednesday, Rosatom Corp published the deal signed on 3 August, which opens a line of credit to finance Akkuyu Nuclear JSC, its subsidiary in Turkey………………………..

Bloomberg reported last month that Rosatom had decided to wire $15bn to Turkey for the construction of the $20bn Akkuyu nuclear power plant, citing officials who said that an initial $5bn had already been received…………………

The Turkish government is in dire need of foreign funding as a result of its rapidly evaporating foreign currency reserves.

Rosatom is expected to rapidly spend up to $2bn on overdue payments to subcontractors. The company told Bloomberg that it would indeed transfer some funds to Turkey, but an amount much lower than that declared by Turkish officials………….more https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/russia-turkey-gazprombank-akkuyu-plant-loan-fund

September 19, 2022 Posted by | marketing, Turkey | Leave a comment

Tepco to revise power prices for industry, factoring in nuclear restart

TOKYO, Sept 16 (Reuters) – Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) (9501.T) said on Friday it will revise its pricing for high-voltage industry customers next year to reflect soaring costs, but will take into account the assumed restart of the No.7 unit of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.

Tepco President Tomoaki Kobayakawa told a news conference of the new pricing policy, including the impact of an assumed restart, although Japan’s nuclear regulator is continuing inspections after barring Tepco, operator of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, from restarting its only operable atomic power station last year due to safety breaches.

“We plan to revise the pricing scheme next business year as we can’t reflect soaring power procurement cost in the electricity price,” Kobayakawa said.

“But we are factoring in that the No.7 unit will be 75% operational next year, or operating nine months out of 12, in calculating the new electricity price to reduce the burden on customers,” he said, adding that the company itself is not forecasting the unit’s resumption next year.

“We do hope to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa as soon as possible, but we can’t say when it will happen,” he said.

Tepco plans to announce details of the new price scheme for industry customers by the end of this month……..

Tepco had been hoping to restart the world’s biggest atomic power plant, with capacity of 8,212 megawatts, in a quest to slash the utility’s operating costs.

But it drew criticism last year when failings at the plant came to light, including security breaches that led to an unauthorised staff member accessing sensitive areas of the plant.

Japan’s industry minister said at the time the plant would not be restarted any time soon.
 https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/tepco-revise-power-prices-industry-factoring-nuclear-restart-2022-09-16/

September 19, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

Super Typhoon Hinnamnor Could Slam Straight Into Nuclear Power Plant

https://www.newsweek.com/typhoon-hinnamnor-south-korea-kori-nuclear-power-plant-1739947 BY JESS THOMSON ON 9/5/22

The most powerful storm in South Korean history is due to collide with a nuclear power plant.

According to the South Korea Meteorological Administration, Super Typhoon Hinnamnor is due to hit on September 6, and may cause multiple casualties. Kori Nuclear Power Plant, which is in the oncoming path of the Category 5 storm near to industrial city Ulsan, has lowered the run rates of three of its nuclear reactors to less than 30 percent in preparation for the typhoon, according to EnergyVoice.

“We’re now entering a phase where we have to minimize casualties,” Han Sang Un, the chief forecaster at Korea Meteorological Administration, said during a briefing on September 5.

“It’s a massive typhoon with a 400-kilometer (248.5 miles) radius, which is big enough to cover Seoul to Busan. Most regions in Korea will experience intense rain and wind,” he said.

Typhoon Sarah, which hit South Korea in 1959, and Typhoon Maemi, which hit in 2003, are thought to be two of the most powerful storms in the nation’s history. Hinnamnor is forecasted to be potentially more powerful. As of September 5, the storm has wind speeds of 127 miles per hour (mph) with gusts around 155 mph, according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

“Super typhoons are defined as a typhoon in the NW Pacific Ocean basin with 1-minute sustained winds of at least 130 kts (150 mph), which is equivalent to a strong Category 4 or Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale,” Dr. Adam Lea, a senior research associate in hurricanes, typhoons and tropical cyclones for University College London’s Department of Space & Climate Physics, told Newsweek.

“The overall diameter of the storm can be hundreds of km but the very damaging winds are confined to a much smaller region surrounding the eye called the eye wall, which is a ring of thunderstorms surrounding the eye where the most extreme conditions occur. This area typically extends to 100km [around 60 miles] from the eye. Hinnamnor is one of the larger typhoons with typhoon force winds extending up to around 140km [around 85 miles] from the center.”

The Kori Nuclear Power Plant, which is in the path of the storm, may therefore be at risk if the typhoon hits it at full power.

Natural disasters of this kind are historically very bad news for power plants: the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan was severely damaged by a tsunami caused by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake in 2011, leading to some 150,000 people to be evacuated from the communities close to the disaster site.

According to Lea, a super typhoon hitting land at peak intensity would cause extreme to catastrophic damage to most buildings not built to resist such winds.

However, typhoon Hinnamnor has weakened considerably from its peak intensity.

“I am not knowledgeable on nuclear power plants, but the buildings are very sturdily constructed and will withstand the winds comfortably,” he said. “In advance of typhoon Maemi in 2003, five nuclear plants were shut down automatically and were ultimately unaffected.”

The typhoon is forecasted by the South Korea Meteorological Administration to hit the resort island of Jeju at about 1 a.m. local time on September 6, and southern coastal cities including Ulsan and Busan at about 7 a.m. Residents have been advised to remain indoors, and according to Bloomberg, 200 residents in coastal areas of Busan have been asked to evacuate to shelters on September 5.

September 6, 2022 Posted by | climate change, safety, South Korea | Leave a comment

A series of defective products at a French MOX fuel plant Abnormal nuclear reaction at a nuclear power plant

A shipping container containing MOX fuel being unloaded from a ship by crane. At left is the containment vessel of the No. 4 reactor at the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant of Kansai Electric Power Co. November 17, 2021.

September 3, 2022

A series of defective products have been found at the Mellox plant in southeastern France, which manufactures fuel for plutonium thermal power generation, in which plutonium is burned in nuclear power plants. In addition, an abnormal increase in nuclear reactions has also been observed at some nuclear power plants that are conducting plu-thermal power generation. What in the world is going on?

 The plant also manufactures fuel for the Japanese market. No problems have been found so far with the fuel for the Japanese market, but production has been delayed, and future product deliveries are now unpredictable.

 Plutonium is extracted from spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants through chemical processing (reprocessing). Plutonium is mixed with uranium in the case of pressurized-water nuclear power plants that conduct plutonium thermal power generation, and baked into pellets, cylindrical grains about 8 mm in diameter. This is called mixed uranium-plutonium oxide fuel (MOX fuel). In the case of a pressurized-water nuclear power plant that conducts plutonium thermal power generation, approximately 320 pellets are stacked inside fuel rods, and another 260 fuel rods are bundled together to form a fuel assembly (approximately 4.1 meters in height).


Highly Difficult Homogenization

 It is difficult to uniformly mix plutonium and uranium. According to ASN data and other sources, “plutonium spots,” dense clumps of plutonium, were found in the fuel pellets produced at the MELOX plant. Plutonium spots were found in the fuel pellets manufactured at the MELOX plant.

 On the other hand, a phenomenon in which the amount of neutrons, which indicate a nuclear reaction, increases more than expected near the upper and lower ends of MOX fuel rods was confirmed at a French nuclear power plant conducting a plutonium thermal operation.

 According to ASN, the combination of this plutonium mass problem and the two anomalies of partially elevated nuclear reactions was predicted to “raise questions about the integrity of the fuel, depending on the circumstances of the accident.

 According to Chihiro Uesawa, 56, an engineering specialist at the NPO Nuclear Information and Data Center (Nakano Ward, Tokyo), concerns are that the fuel could melt or the tubes covering the fuel could break. When plutonium is used as fuel, it has been pointed out that there is a possibility of a localized increase in nuclear reactions. This has become apparent,” Uesawa said.

https://mainichi.jp/articles/20220831/k00/00m/040/238000c?fbclid=IwAR1mQYYAbxefVEt_eDl-y8N9DfIOlvhN-MSVKCbbWsgR7rmvCRI6gu8ZyEE

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

Fukushima Plants Showing ‘Unusual Growing Patterns’

NewsWeek, BY ROBYN WHITE ON 8/31/22 , Japan’s Fukushima, the site of the world’s second-worst nuclear disaster, is showing “unusual growing patterns” among vegetation in the area because of the radiation contamination.

…………………… Tim Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina and a radiation expert, told Newsweek that a “vast region near the power plant” is still “significantly contaminated” but that levels are much lower than they used to be. However, the effects of radiation continue to be seen in the plants in the area, he said.

“There have been a few studies of the plants showing effects of the radiation. For example, it has been shown that Japanese fir trees show unusual growth patterns similar to that observed for pine trees in Chernobyl,” Mousseau said. “Such effects are still open for study, as they are preserved in the growth form of the plant/tree as long as it is still living.”

He continued, “Many areas are still contaminated above levels that most would consider safe for people to live, although most of the region is now relatively safe for short visits.”

Carmel Mothersill, a radiobiologist and the Canada research chair in environmental radiobiology, said that remediation efforts have also affected the area’s vegetation.

………. Mousseau also said that the ongoing effects of the contamination and “other human disturbances” remain largely unknown, as “research in the region has dropped off dramatically in the past years because of COVID and Japan’s restrictions on visitors from outside the country.”

“Assuming Japan removes travel restrictions, more research will be conducted,” he said

While some areas are opening back up to the public, most of the Fukushima area remains evacuated, Mothersill said……..  https://www.newsweek.com/fukushima-plants-unusal-gorwing-patterns-1738525

August 31, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

The ‘horrors of climate change’ hit Pakistan

More than 1,000 dead and 33MILLION people displaced due to Pakistan flash
floods: Terrifying torrents of water are filmed wiping village away after
monsoon. More than 1,000 deaths from widespread flooding in Pakistan amid
‘climate catastrophe’ monsoon season. Flash flooding washed away entire
villages as 33 million Pakistanis were displaced and army called to rescue.
Pakistani military chiefs released a video Sunday pleading with countries
to offer their financial support. PM Shahbaz Sharif blamed ‘the horrors of
climate change’ for dramatic scenes which saw hotel washed away.

Daily Mail 29th Aug 2022

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11154287/Luxury-hotel-swept-away-floods-Pakistan-Prime-Minister-Shahbaz-Sharif-begs-help.html

August 30, 2022 Posted by | climate change, Pakistan | Leave a comment

South Asian countries facing devastating extreme weather events – seek reparation from rich countries

South Asian countries facing devastating extreme weather events are
increasingly looking to Cop27 and in turn, rich countries for more finance
– which in itself has become yet another reminder that they are not the
ones to have caused the problem in the first place but have become one of
the most vulnerable to it.

From record-breaking heatwaves and droughts to
devastating floods, millions of people in south Asia are suffering
back-to-back extreme weather events on an unprecedented scale in the last
few months. Calls for reparations from wealthier countries have only grown
even as climate crisis-induced disasters like intensified heatwaves, drying
rivers, raging wildfires and frequent storms are now impacting regions
where such phenomenon were at one time unprecedented.

Independent 29th Aug 2022

https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/cop27-climate-finance-climate-change-south-asia-b2153038.html

August 30, 2022 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Fukushima town lifts evacuation order, but few former residents want to come back

More than 80% of the municipality is designated as a “difficult-to-return” zone still experiencing high levels of radiation, the spokesman said. And a survey conducted last August found that 60.5% of residents had decided not to return — far exceeding the 11.3% who wanted to come back.

Fukushima town lifts evacuation order, allowing former residents to return 11 years after nuclear disaster, By Emiko Jozuka and Jessie Yeung, CNN, August 30,

Tokyo (CNN)More than a decade after Japan’s worst nuclear disaster, the town that hosts the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant finally lifted its evacuation order on Tuesday, allowing former residents to come home.

The town of Futaba, previously deemed off-limits, is the last of 11 districts to lift its evacuation order, a spokesman for the town’s municipal office told CNN.

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off Japan’s east coast, triggering a tsunami that caused a nuclear meltdown at the power plant and a major release of radioactive material. It was the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

More than 300,000 people living near the nuclear plant were forced to evacuate temporarily; thousands more did so voluntarily. Once-bustling communities were turned into ghost towns.

In the years since, large-scale cleanup and decontamination operations have allowed some residents who once lived in the former exclusion zone to return.

…………………….Authorities began preparing for the town’s reopening this year; in January, they launched a program allowing former residents to return temporarily, but only 85 people from 52 households took part, the Futaba official said……………….It remains unclear, however, how many people will return — and how long the town will take to recover.

More than 80% of the municipality is designated as a “difficult-to-return” zone still experiencing high levels of radiation, the spokesman said. And a survey conducted last August found that 60.5% of residents had decided not to return — far exceeding the 11.3% who wanted to come back.

Futaba has no official timeline on when other areas of the town will be fully decontaminated.

But the spokesman expressed hope for the town’s future, saying Futaba aims to increase its population to 2,000 by 2030.

If other Japanese towns affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster are any indication, Futaba has a long road ahead. Even places that lifted evacuation orders several years ago have continued to face challenges.

For instance, Katsurao village, which lies about 40 kilometers (24 miles) from the plant, reopened to residents in 2016, but some households are still waiting for their sections of the village to be decontaminated.

Others may still have concerns about radiation. Despite the decontamination efforts, a 2020 survey by Kwansei Gakuin University found 65% of evacuees no longer wanted to return to Fukushima prefecture — 46% feared residual contamination and 45% had settled elsewhere.

CNN’s Kathleen Benoza contributed reporting.  https://edition.cnn.com/2022/08/30/asia/futaba-fukushima-nuclear-evacuation-order-intl-hnk/index.html

August 30, 2022 Posted by | Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

China deploys ships and jets near Taiwan — Taipei

The move comes hours after US warships sailed past the self-governed island

 https://www.rt.com/news/561681-taiwan-china-strait-tensions/ 28 Aug22,

A sizable group of Chinese military vessels and aircraft has been detected around Taiwan amid heightened tensions in the region, the self-governed island’s Defense Ministry claimed on Sunday.

According to the ministry, eight Chinese Navy vessels and 23 aircraft were detected in Taiwan’s vicinity. Ten planes, it stated, “had flown on the east part of the median line of the Taiwan Strait,” which in practice serves as an unofficial barrier between mainland China and the island.

The Taiwanese military added that local combat air patrol has been given relevant instructions, and that Beijing’s activities are being closely monitored.

The apparent Chinese deployment comes a day after the US sent two warships to the Taiwan Strait, in what the Navy called a “routine” transit mission, meant to “demonstrate the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Beijing responded by putting its military on high alert and signaling its readiness “to stop any provocations in a timely manner.” Earlier, China also castigated the US, branding it “the destroyer of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.” 

Tensions in the region have been running high since the controversial visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei in early August, which sent relations between Washington and Beijing into a tailspin and triggered a flurry of Chinese military activity in the area. At the time, Chinese Defense Ministry said it had conducted drills simulating a “blockade” of the island, as well as amphibious assaults and the striking of ground targets. 

Beijing considers the self-governing island its own territory, and views visits by high-ranking US officials as attacks on its sovereignty and a violation of the ‘One China’ principle. The Taiwan Strait, which separates the self-governed island from mainland China, has been a source of military tension since 1949, when Chinese nationalists fled to the island after losing the Civil War to the Communists.

August 28, 2022 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pakistan’s desperate plight after monster flooding

 Pakistan is appealing for further international assistance after floods
wreaked havoc across the country. The US, UK, United Arab Emirates and
others have contributed to a monsoon disaster appeal but more funds are
needed, an interior ministry official told the BBC. More than 1,000 people
have died and millions have been displaced since June, Salman Sufi said. He
said Pakistan’s government was doing everything in its power to help
people.

 BBC 28th Aug 2022

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-62704004

August 28, 2022 Posted by | climate change, Pakistan | Leave a comment

The government is planning to “promote” nuclear power plants…but there are so many difficulties to overcome before this can be realized, and there are doubts about the assurance of safety and security

August 25, 2022
 The government aims to make a major change in its nuclear energy policy, which has denied the construction of new nuclear power plants since the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on August 24. The government also plans to consider extending the operating periods of existing nuclear power plants again and to further promote their restart. The government is moving forward with the use of nuclear power plants because of the tight power supply and demand caused by the crisis in Ukraine. However, there are serious doubts about the safety and security of nuclear power plants, and it is not clear whether the public will understand this. (The government is now considering the use of nuclear power plants.)
The government is clearly stating that it is “considering” the construction of new and additional nuclear power plants…The government is promoting the extension of the operation period and the restart of a total of 17 reactors.


◆Next generation nuclear reactors” – Technology not yet established
 We will discuss all options for a stable energy supply. We will discuss all options for a stable energy supply and will not rule out the construction of new reactors. Yuji Iida, director general of the Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), emphasized this before the Green Transformation (GX) Executive Conference, which was held on March 24 to discuss decarbonization policies.
The “Basic Energy Plan” approved by the Cabinet last October did not mention the construction of new nuclear power plants, and successive prime ministers have repeatedly stated that it was not envisioned at this time. Conscious of public sentiment in the aftermath of the nuclear accident, the government has avoided going into the issue.
 The new plants to be considered this time are not existing nuclear power plants, but next-generation models, such as nuclear power plants with improved accident countermeasures and small reactors. Although the government emphasizes safety, many of these next-generation reactors are still in the process of being tested overseas, and it is difficult to say that they have been established as commercial power generation facilities.
 One official at an electric power company commented, “We don’t have the capacity to build new reactors when we can’t even restart existing nuclear power plants. The first step is to operate the current nuclear power plants and restore their technological capabilities.


◆ Extension of operating period: Regulatory Commission not optimistic
 In 2013, after the Fukushima accident, the law was amended to set the operating period of nuclear power plants at 40 years in principle, and to allow for a one-time extension of 20 years. The law was amended in 2013 after the Fukushima accident to allow for a one-time 20-year extension of the 40-year operating period. Four reactors were approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), of which Kansai Electric Power’s Mihama Unit 3 (Fukui Prefecture) has restarted.
 If the units are operated for more than 60 years, which would mean a re-extension, the law may need to be revised again. At a press conference on March 24, Chairman Toyoshi Sarada of the Regulatory Commission said, “Detailed technical discussions are needed. In the U.S., operation for 80 years is permitted, but Mr. Sarada pointed out that “Japan has many earthquakes, and we should not be dragged down by foreign countries.


◆ Seven new reactors restarted → Inadequate anti-terrorism and evacuation plans hindering operations
The government has also set a target of restarting seven reactors at five nuclear power plants that have yet to be restarted, although they meet the new regulatory standards, sometime after next summer or winter.
 In April of last year, the regulatory commission ordered a de facto ban on the operation of TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki Kariwa Nuclear Power Station in Niigata Prefecture because of a problem with a faulty intrusion detector that had been left unattended. The order was not lifted until the plant was found to be in an improved condition, and its inspections have continued.
 Furthermore, Niigata Prefecture has made its own verification work a condition for whether or not it will agree to restart the plant, and the completion of the work is “not foreseeable” (Prefectural Nuclear Safety Division). In light of the inadequacies of the anti-terrorism measures, even a member of the Liberal Democratic Party’s prefectural assembly, which is pro-nuclear power generation, has voiced his desire not to have TEPCO operate the plant, and the sense of distrust is deep-rooted.
 The Japan Atomic Power Company’s Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant in Ibaraki Prefecture has more than 900,000 people living within a 30-kilometer evacuation zone, the largest in the nation, and the plan has been extremely difficult to formulate. In addition to the prefectural government, only five of the 14 municipalities in the prefecture have been able to formulate a plan. In addition, the Mito District Court ordered an injunction against the operation of the plant last March, citing problems with the effectiveness of the evacuation plan.
 There is almost no chance that both reactors will be able to operate within the government’s target of a little over a year.
https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/197879

August 28, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment