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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

A nuclear accident in South Korea could contaminate Western Japan, more eriously than South Korea

South Korean nuclear power plant accident would heavily taint western Japan: simulation http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/21/national/science-health/nuclear-accident-south-korean-plant-leave-western-japan-massively-contaminated-study/#.WSJ_W5KGPGg

KYODO  A nuclear accident at a power plant in South Korea could cause wider radiation contamination in western Japan than on its home soil, a study by a South Korean scientist has shown.

If a cooling system fails at the spent-fuel storage pools at the Kori power plant’s No. 3 reactor in Busan, massive amounts of cesium-137 would be released that could potentially reach western Japan, according to a simulation by Jungmin Kang of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a U.S. think tank.

In the worst-case scenario, up to 67,000 sq. km of Japanese soil would be contaminated and 28.3 million people would be forced to evacuate, the study said, though the fallout’s spread would depend on the season.

As for South Korea, an accident at the plant could taint more than half of the nation by contaminating up to 54,000 sq. km, it said.

A total of 818 tons of spent nuclear fuel were stored in pools at the site as of the end of 2015, Kang said. He said an accident could be triggered not only by natural disasters but by terrorism or a missile from North Korea.

May 22, 2017 Posted by | Japan, safety, South Korea | Leave a comment

Japan restarts another reactor

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TOKYO: A Japanese utility Wednesday switched on a nuclear reactor, the latest to come back in service despite deep public opposition in the aftermath of the Fukushima crisis.

Japan shut down all of its dozens of reactors after a powerful earthquake in March 2011 spawned a huge tsunami that led to meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing the world’s worst such accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

But only a handful of reactors have come back online due to public opposition and as legal cases work their way through the courts.

On Wednesday, Kansai Electric Power (KEPCO) restarted the No 4 reactor at the Takahama nuclear plant after a court in March cleared the move.

The latest restart at the plant in Fukui prefecture, some 350 kilometers (215 miles) west of Tokyo, came after court battles that lasted more than a year during which a district court near Fukui ordered KEPCO to suspend operations.

The Fukui government, where the nuclear industry is a major employer, approved the reactor’s restart but concerned residents in neighboring Shiga prefecture asked their local court to stop the move.

The region’s appeals court in Osaka finally ruled in March that KEPCO could restart two of the four reactors at Takahama.

Shigeki Iwane, KEPCO president, announced the restart in a statement.

“We will… carefully continue our work with discipline and regard safety as the priority,” he said.

Shiga governor Taizo Mikazuki voiced frustration and urged the national government to reduce its reliance on nuclear power, saying his prefecture would be greatly impacted in the event of an accident.

He said the environment was not right for a restart.

“Local residents hold profound anxiety about nuclear plants,” he said in a written statement.

“The government should change the current energy policy that relies on nuclear plants at the earliest possible time,” he said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has steadily promoted nuclear energy, calling it essential to powering the world’s third-largest economy.

https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/World/2017/May-17/406167-japan-restarts-another-reactor.ashx

May 17, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Mayors near Hamaoka nuclear plant say wider consensus needed for reactor restarts

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The Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant, idled for five years and now guarded by a 22-meter-tall tsunami wall, is seen on May 12, 2016. Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, is seen in the background.

Seven heads of 11 Shizuoka Prefecture municipalities located within a 30-kilometer radius of Chubu Electric Power Co.’s Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant said in a recent Mainichi Shimbun survey that they believe restarting the currently idled nuclear reactors requires agreement from not only the host prefecture and host city but also other municipalities around the plant.

As May 14 marks the sixth year after the Hamaoka nuclear plant suspended operations upon a request from the then government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan, the Mainichi Shimbun surveyed the Shizuoka Prefecture governor and mayors of 11 prefectural municipalities in the “Urgent Protective Action Planning Zone” (UPZ) around the plant. UPZs cover areas within a radius of 30 kilometers of a nuclear plant.

While no legal framework has been set up regarding the scope of municipal consensus necessary to restart operations at a nuclear station, requests have been growing for a broader agreement among municipalities — not just the host prefecture and host municipality — in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu, who is running for re-election in the gubernatorial race scheduled for June, has argued for the need to hold a referendum over the restart of the Hamaoka plant and has expressed a positive view of involving the 11 mayors in decisions regarding the matter. Consequently, the issue could become a key point in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

The Mainichi asked Gov. Kawakatsu and 11 municipal mayors in a multiple-choice form about the scope of local consensus over the Hamaoka plant restart. Five mayors said agreement from all 11 municipalities in the UPZ was necessary, one favored gaining consensus from four municipalities located within a 10-kilometer radius of the plant and another mayor wanted agreement from all municipalities in Shizuoka Prefecture. The mayor of Omaezaki, the host city of the Hamaoka plant, said restarting the idled nuclear plant only required the city’s agreement.

Shigeki Nishihara, the mayor of Makinohara, neighboring Omaezaki, said consensus from municipalities in the UPZ was necessary. He commented that local governments (in that area) “have a responsibility to secure their residents’ safety.” Meanwhile, Yasuo Ota, the mayor of the town of Mori, who picked “agreement from all municipalities in Shizuoka Prefecture” to restart the Hamaoka plant, told the Mainichi, “It is necessary to hear broad opinions when it comes to gaining consensus over nuclear power as a national energy policy.”

While the remaining four mayors checked “other” in the survey, most of them expressed their view of involving the national government in deciding the scope of local consensus.

Gov. Kawakatsu stressed that it is not an appropriate time to make a decision over the scope of local consensus and repeated that a referendum over the issue of the Hamaoka plant is necessary from the standpoint of popular sovereignty.

No local government heads surveyed were actually in favor of restarting the Hamaoka nuclear plant, even under right conditions such as with approved safety measures. Three city mayors said they were against restarting the plant. Seven local government chiefs chose “other” in the question, while the remaining two said they “cannot judge at the moment.”

The Nuclear Regulation Authority’s screening process of the Hamaoka nuclear plant has been prolonged as the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors being screened are the same “boiling-water type” reactors as the ones at the devastated Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Furthermore, the estimated maximum ground motion at the Hamaoka nuclear station is likely to be raised because it is located directly above the hypocenter of a potential Nankai Trough megaquake.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170513/p2a/00m/0na/013000c

May 17, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Tepco Looks Beyond Fukushima Daiichi, Seeks Build Partners

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Tokyo Electric and Power Company, owner of the Fukushima Daiichi generating station that suffered a triple-reactor meltdown after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, said Thursday that is was seeking partners to help re-establish itself in the nuclear power business.

The partnership would focus on building two light-water nuclear reactors at the Higashidori nuclear power station in the Aomori Prefecture, the Japan Times reported.

Tepco, while facing massive expenses on Fukushima Daiichi clean up and decommissioning, is hoping to increase revenues through partnerships in both electricity generation and power grid operations, the Times said.

Tepco is currently supported by the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp., a government-sponsored organization that is a significant shareholder in Tepco. Tepco and the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. together submitted Tepco’s plan for partnerships for a state review.

The Higashidori plant is already the site of one reactor, owned by the Tohuku Electric Power Company. Tepco has plans to build two more reactors at the same site.

http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/archive/2017/05/11/tepco-looks-beyond-fukushima-daiichi_2c00_-seeks-build-partners-051102

May 17, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Toshiba Corporation expects net loss of JPY950 billion ($8.4 billion) for the 2016-2017 financial year

World Nuclear News 15th May 2017, Japan’s Toshiba Corporation expects to report a consolidated net loss of
JPY950 billion ($8.4 billion) for the 2016-2017 financial year, ending 31
March, according to unaudited results it released today. Last month, the
company warned of a net loss for the full year of about JPY1 trillion….  http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C-Toshiba-projects-JPY950-billion-loss-for-FY2016-1505175.html

May 17, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

Families do not want to return to polluted Fukushima areas

the cleanup extends to only 20 meters around each house, and three-quarters of the village is forested mountains. In windy weather, radioactive elements are blown back onto the fields and homes.

The government is forcing people to go back, some argued, employing a form of economic blackmail, or worse, kimin seisaku — abandoning them to their fate.

The evacuation orders for most of the village of Iitate have been lifted. But where are the people?, Japan Times, BY DAVID MCNEILL AND CHIE MATSUMOTO, 14 May 17 

 “…….A cluster of 20 small hamlets spread over 230 square kilometers, Iitate was undone by a quirk of the weather in the days that followed the nuclear accident in March 2011. Wind carried radioactive particles from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which is located about 45 kilometers away, that fell in rain and snow on the night of March 15, 2011. After more than a month of indecision, during which the villagers lived with some of the highest radiation recorded in the disaster (the reading outside the village office on the evening of March 15 was a startling 44.7 microsieverts per hour), the government ordered them to leave.

Now, the government says it is safe to go back. With great fanfare, all but the still heavily contaminated south of Iitate, Nagadoro, was reopened on March 31.

The reopening fulfills a pledge made by Mayor Norio Kanno: Iitate was the first local authority in Fukushima Prefecture to set a date for ending evacuation in 2012, when the mayor promised to reboot the village in five years. The village has a new sports ground, convenience store and udon restaurant. A clinic sees patients twice a week. All that’s missing is people.

Waiting to meet Kanno in the government offices of Iitate, the eye falls on a book displayed in the reception: “The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan.” Listed at No. 12 is the beloved rolling patchwork of forests, hills and fields the mayor has governed for more than two decades — population 6,300, famous for its neat terraces of rice and vegetables, its industrious organic farmers, its wild mushrooms and the black wagyu cow that has taken the name of the area.

The description in the book is mocked by reality outside. The fields are mostly bald, shorn of vegetation in a Promethean attempt to decontaminate it of the radiation that fell six years ago. There is not a cow or a farmer in sight. Tractors sit idle in the fields. The local schools are empty. As for the population, the only part of the village that looks busy is the home for the elderly across the road from Kanno’s office…….

There has been no official talk of abandoning it. Indeed, any suggestion otherwise could be controversial: When industry minister Yoshio Hachiro called the abandoned communities “towns of death” in September 2011, the subsequent outrage forced him to quit a week later.

Instead, the area was divided into three zones with awkward euphemisms to suggest just the opposite: Communities with annual radiation measuring 20 millisieverts or less (the typical worldwide limit for workers in nuclear plants) are “being prepared for lifting of evacuation order,” districts of 20-50 millisieverts per year are “no-residence zones” and the most heavily contaminated areas of 50 millisieverts or more per year, such as Nagadoro, are “difficult-to-return.”…..

the cleanup extends to only 20 meters around each house, and three-quarters of the village is forested mountains. In windy weather, radioactive elements are blown back onto the fields and homes.

“All that money, and for what?” asks Nobuyoshi Itoh, a farmer and critic of the mayor. “Would you bring children here and let them roam in the fields and forests?”…..

Though nobody knows the true figure, the local talk is that perhaps half of the villagers have permanently left. Surveys suggest fewer than 30 percent want to return, and even less in the case of Nagadoro.

Yoshitomo Shigihara, head of the Nagadoro hamlet, says many families made their decision some time ago. His grandchildren, he says, should not have to live in such a place.

“It’s our job to protect them,” Shigihara says. …….

The government is forcing people to go back, some argued, employing a form of economic blackmail, or worse, kimin seisaku — abandoning them to their fate.

Itoh is angry at the resettlement. For him, politics drives the haste to put the disaster behind.

“It’s inhuman to make people go back to this,” he says. Like the physical damage of radiation, he says, the psychological damage is also invisible: “A lot of people are suffering in silence.”

Itoh believes the government wants to show that the problems of nuclear power can be overcome so it can switch the nation’s idling nuclear reactors back on. Just four are in operation while the fate of 42 others remains in political and legal limbo. Public opinion remains opposed to their restart.

Many people began with high hopes in Iitate but have gradually grown distrustful of the village government, says Kenichi Hasegawa, a farmer who wrote a book titled “Genpatsu ni Furusato o Ubawarete” (“Fukushima’s Stolen Lives”) in 2012. Right from the start, he says, the mayor desperately tried to hide the shocking radiation outside his office……. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/13/national/social-issues/fukushima-land-return/#.WRkB8UWGPGh

May 15, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Tepco trying to get investment partners forf its nuclear business

Japan’s Tepco to seek partners for nuclear business, Reuters, By Osamu Tsukimori and Aaron Sheldrick | TOKYO, 11 May 17 Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Co said on Thursday it will seek partners for its nuclear business as part of a recovery plan after the Fukushima disaster of six years ago brought the utility to its knees and put it under state control.

The company, known as Tepco, is trying to place itself on a sounder financial footing after the government in December almost doubled its estimate for the costs related to the Fukushima disaster to 21.5 trillion yen ($188 billion).

It is the third attempt to boost its finances in the six years since the disaster, after the targets in previous plans proved to be unattainable.

Central to its efforts to boost profits and pay for the costs of the disaster is the restart of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (KK) nuclear plant in northern Japan, the world’s biggest power station not including hydroelectric dams…….

However, the governor of Japan’s Niigata prefecture, where KK is located, is opposed to a restart without a review of its safety plans, which could take several years. It also must resubmit applications with the national atomic regulator…….

Finding partners for Tepco’s nuclear business will be difficult. Top executives of Tohoku Electric Power and Chubu Electric Power, which operate in regions abutting Tepco’s service area, have said they were not considering any nuclear tie-ups with Tepco……

Tepco submitted the revised business plan to the government, which is expected to give its approval after providing its own input over the last few months.

Tepco plans to allocate 500 billion yen annually in the coming decades to pay for decommissioning at Fukushima and compensation.

Tepco is estimating net profit of 288 billion yen in the year through March 2018, more than double the year earlier period. Revenue is forecast to rise to 5.75 trillion yen from 5.36 trillion yen.

(Editing by Joseph Radford and Christian Schmollinger) http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-tepco-idUSKBN18718S

May 12, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

The urgent danger of wildfires in the radioactive Fukuhsima area

Fukushima a “ticking time bomb” — Fires now “raging” near nuclear plant — Blaze doubles in size; “Smoke rising from wide areas” — Concern over fallout of highly radioactive material; Officials closely watching radiation levels(video) http://enenews.com/fukushima-a-ticking-time-bomb-fires-now-raging-near-nuclear-plant-blaze-doubles-in-size-smoke-rising-from-wide-areas-concern-over-fallout-of-highly-radioactive-material-official

 
NHK World, May 1, 2017 (emphasis added): Wildfire continues in Fukushima — A wildfire has been raging for more than 2 days near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The area is part of a zone designated as “no-entry” due to high radiation levels… Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures and the Self-Defense Forces are using helicopters to fight the blaze. They are also looking at the possibility of using ground crews. Footage from an NHK helicopter on Monday morning showed smoke rising from wide areas and fires burning in several locations

Mainichi, May 1, 2017: Wildfire rages in highly radioactive Fukushima mountain forest — A fire broke out in a mountain forest near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on the evening of April 29, consuming an area approximately 20 hectares in size, according to prefectural authorities… As the fire continued to spread, however, helicopters from the GSDF, Fukushima Prefecture and other parties on May 1 resumed fire extinguishing operations from around 5 a.m. … As of May 1, there were no major changes to radiation levels in the heart of Namie and other areas near the fire scene, according to the Ministry of the Environment. “We will continue to closely watch changes in radiation doses in the surrounding areas,” said a ministry official.

Common Dreams, May 1, 2017: Sparking Fears of Airborne Radiation, Wildfire Burns in Fukushima ‘No-Go Zone’; Contaminated forests such as those outside fallout sites like Fukushima and Chernobyl ‘are ticking time bombs’ — A wildfire broke out in the highly radioactive “no-go zone” near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant over the weekend, reviving concerns over potential airborne radiation… Local officials were forced to call in the Japanese military… In a blog post last year, Anton Beneslavsky, a member of Greenpeace Russia’s firefighting group who has been deployed to fight blazes in nuclear Chernobyl, outlined the specific dangers of wildfires in contaminated areas. “During a fire, radionuclides like caesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium rise into the air and travel with the wind,” Beneslavsky wrote. “This is a health concern because when these unstable atoms are inhaled, people become internally exposed to radiation.” Contaminated forests such as those outside fallout sites like Fukushima and Chernobyl “are ticking time bombs,” scientist and former regional government official Ludmila Komogortseva told Beneslavsky. “Woods and peat accumulate radiation,” she explained “and every moment, every grass burning, every dropped cigarette or camp fire can spark a new disaster.”

Sputnik News, May 1, 2017: Japanese Authorities Fighting Wildfire in Evacuation Zone Near Fukushima NPP… There were no reports either about the wind direction or the changes in the background radiation level in relation to the fire.

See also: Fires burning near Fukushima plant — Officials ask Japan gov’t to send in troops to help fight blaze — Strong winds hindering firefighters (VIDEO)

Watch Mainichi’s video here

May 10, 2017 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui calls on U.N. chief to attend nuclear disarmament conference in August

Hiroshima mayor wants U.N. chief to attend nuclear disarmament conference in August http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/09/national/hiroshima-mayor-wants-u-n-chief-attend-nuclear-disarmament-conference-august/#.WRJEbEWGPGg
KYODO  
VIENNA – Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui has called on U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres to take part in a peace conference to be held in Nagasaki in August.

Matsui made the request in a Monday meeting with Izumi Nakamitsu, the new U.N. undersecretary general and high representative for disarmament affairs, handing over a letter written jointly with Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue.

Matsui, president of the nongovernmental organization Mayors for Peace, said he told Nakamitsu that many citizens, including survivors of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hope for progress in the negotiations to ban nuclear weapons.

Mayors for Peace, an organization seeking nuclear disarmament and world peace, involves about 7,300 cities in 162 countries and regions. It is scheduled to convene a general conference in Nagasaki on Aug. 7-10.

Nakamitsu, who took her new posts on May 1, was quoted as saying that the key will be how nuclear powers and non-nuclear nations can work together to make the proposed nuclear ban treaty effective. So far, major nuclear powers have refused to join the negotiations.

Matsui and Nakamitsu met on the sidelines of a meeting in Vienna of the preparatory committee for a 2020 conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

May 10, 2017 Posted by | Japan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japan’s desperate hunt for a highly radioactive nuclear waste dump site

Japan seeks final resting place for highly radioactive nuclear waste http://www.dw.com/en/japan-seeks-final-resting-place-for-highly-radioactive-nuclear-waste/a-38709488, 5 May 17, 

With communities refusing to come forward to host the by-product of Japan’s nuclear energy industry, the Japanese government is drawing up a map of the most suitable locations for underground repositories.

The Japanese government is putting the finishing touches to a map of the country identifying what its experts consider to be the safest location for a repository for 18,000 tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste for the next 100,000 years. The map is expected to be released next month and will coincide with the government holding a series of symposiums across the country designed to explain why the repository is needed and to win support for the project.

Given that the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in March 2011 is still fresh in the memory of the Japanese public, the government’s plan is not expected to win much understanding or support.

The original proposal for a repository for the waste from the nation’s nuclear energy sector was first put forward in 2002, but even then there were few communities that were willing to be associated with the dump. Fifteen years later, and with a number of Japan’s nuclear reactors closed down for good in the wake of the Fukushima accident, the need for a permanent storage site is more pressing than ever.

Radioactivity release

The disaster, in which a 13-meter tsunami triggered by an off-shore earthquake crippled four reactors at the plant and caused massive amounts of radioactivity to escape into the atmosphere, also underlined just how seismically unstable the Japanese archipelago is and the need for the repository to be completely safe for 100,000 years.

Aileen Mioko-Smith, an anti-nuclear campaigner with Kyoto-based Green Action Japan, does not believe the government can deliver that guarantee.

“You only have to look at what happened in 2011 to realize that nowhere in Japan is safe from this sort of natural disaster and it is crazy to think otherwise,” she told DW.

Given the degree of public hostility, Mioko-Smith believes that the government will fall back on the tried-and-trusted tactic of offering ever-increasing amounts of money until a community gives in.

Government funds

“They have been trying to get this plan of the ground for years and one thing they tried was to offer money to any town or village that agreed to even undergo a survey to see if their location was suitable,” she said.

“There were a number of mayors who accepted the proposal because they wanted the money – even though they had no intention of ever agreeing to host the storage site – but the backlash from their constituents was fast and it was furious,” Smith added.

“In every case, those mayors reversed their decisions and the government has got nowhere,” she said. “But I fear that means that sooner or later they are just going to make a decision on a site and order the community to accept it.”

The security requirements of the facility will be exacting, the government has stated, and the site will need to be at least 300 meters beneath the surface in a part of the country that is not subject to seismic activity from active faults or volcanoes. It must also be safe from the effects of erosion and away from oil and coal fields. Another consideration is access and sites within 20 km of the coast are preferred.

High-level waste

The facility will need to be able to hold 25,000 canisters of vitrified high-level waste, while more waste will be produced as the nation’s nuclear reactors are slowly brought back online after being mothballed since 2011 for extensive assessments of their safety and ability to withstand a natural disaster on the same scale as the magnitude-9 earthquake that struck Fukushima.

Stephen Nagy, a senior associate professor of international relations at Tokyo’s International Christian University, agrees that the government will have to pay to convince any community to host the facility.

“They will probably peddle it as subsidies for rural revitalization, which is a tactic that all governments use, but there are going to be some significant protests because Fukushima has created a nuclear allergy in most people in Japan,” he said.

“I expect that the government would also very much like to be able to phase out nuclear energy, but that is simply not realistic at the moment,” he said.

When it is released, the government’s list is likely to include places in Tohoku and Hokkaido as among the most suitable sites, because both are relatively less populated than central areas of the country and are in need of revitalization efforts. Parts of Tohoku close to the Fukushima plant may eventually be chosen because they are still heavily contaminated with radiation from the accident.

May 6, 2017 Posted by | Japan, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan wants stronger Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Japan calls for stronger Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty amid North Korea threat, KYODO, JAPAN TIMES, 4 May 17  VIENNA – Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida called on the international community Tuesday to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime, citing the growing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Taking part in the preparatory committee for the 2020 review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in Vienna, the first Japanese foreign minister to do so, Kishida also urged cooperation between nuclear states and non-nuclear states to prevent the spread of nuclear arms……..

The first session of the committee to prepare for the review conference in 2020 was held as countries remain at odds over a separate treaty on banning nuclear weapons.

Japan has said it aspires to a world free of nuclear weapons but will abstain from the U.N. negotiations in March for a treaty on a ban, alongside the five recognized nuclear weapons states — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

Regarding the U.N. talks for a treaty on a ban, Kishida told the committee it would further deepen the gap between nuclear states and non-nuclear states, calling for a gradual approach to reducing nuclear weapons, which would be “realistic.”

The government’s decision, seen as reflecting its reliance on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, triggered criticism from the survivors of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who saw the first-ever U.N. talks on the treaty as a step toward achieving a world free of nuclear weapons…….http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/02/national/japan-calls-stronger-nuclear-non-proliferation-treaty-amid-north-korea-threat/#.WQuYqEWGPGg

May 5, 2017 Posted by | Japan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Government to release map of potential final nuclear disposal sites this summer

n-nukewaste-a-20170503-870x564.jpgSolidified nuclear waste mixed with glass is placed in canisters at a reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, in 2012

The government has set the criteria for a map meant to identify potential final disposal sites for high-level radioactive nuclear waste, paving the way for its release as early as this summer.

The process of finding a host for nuclear waste could face challenges amid public concerns over safety.

Based on the map, the government will approach select municipalities to allow research to be conducted for suitable sites to store waste from nuclear power generation.

For permanent disposal, high-level nuclear waste needs to be stored at a final depository more than 300 meters underground for up to about 100,000 years until radiation levels fall and there is no longer potential harm to humans and the environment.

The government plans to create a permanent underground repository somewhere in stable bedrock so the canisters can be stored for tens of thousands of years.

The map is likely to classify which areas are geologically suitable for such a structure to be built deep enough underground. This would rule out areas near active faults and volcanoes as well as oil and coal fields.

Based on waste transport criteria, the map is likely to show that zones within 20 km of the coastline are favorable to host final disposal sites.

The government hopes other municipalities — not just the ones located near nuclear power plants — may also become interested in hosting the disposal facilities. It also wants to show that a variety of places nationwide are suitable for nuclear waste management.

The map was originally planned for a 2016 release but the publication date was later postponed, as some local governments were wary that disposal sites would be imposed on them.

About 18,000 tons of spent fuel currently exist in Japan. Including spent fuel that has already been reprocessed, the country’s total jumps to about 25,000 canisters of vitrified high-level waste, all of which needs to be managed.

The process to find local governments willing to host final storage started in 2002, but little progress was made due mainly to opposition from local residents.

In May 2015, the central government introduced a plan announcing that final depository site selection would be based on scientific grounds, rather than waiting for municipalities to volunteer.

Before presenting the map, the government will hold symposiums between mid-May and June at nine cities to explain the map criteria to the public. The cities include Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka.

Radioactive waste is classified into two categories: The high-level type is generated from reprocessing spent fuel by separating the plutonium and uranium for recycling, while the low level type refers to all other waste.

High-level waste is a byproduct of fission in the reactor core, which is very hot and dangerous. It is mixed with glass and solidified before being placed in robust heat-resistant stainless steel canisters that are 130 cm high, 40 cm in diameter and weigh 500 kg each.

A full canister emits about 1,500 sieverts per hour — an extremely lethal biological level — and has a surface temperature in excess of 200 degrees.

Its radioactivity starts at 20,000 trillion becquerels. It will take about 1,000 years to fall to one-thousandth of that level, and tens of thousands of years to weaken to the same intensity as natural uranium ore, the Natural Resources and Energy Agency says.

Worldwide, only Finland and Sweden have been able to successfully decide on a final depository site for nuclear waste, while many other countries with nuclear plants face difficulties in doing so.

The United States decided in 2009 to call off a plan to build a site to dispose spent fuel in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain due to local opposition, but President Donald Trump earmarked funds to revive the plan in the budget proposal for fiscal 2018 unveiled in March.

In Japan, the selection process is also a touchy issue and has triggered conflicts in the communities around which prospective depository sites have been considered.

In one example, Minamiosumi Mayor Toshihiko Morita in Kagoshima Prefecture filed a criminal complaint against a 65-year-old resident for libel, claiming that his allegations that the rural town office had been actively inviting such a facility was not only groundless but also defamation.

The resident handed out flyers to about 500 households in the town in January which said Morita went to Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, and Horonobe in Hokkaido at the invitation of the private sector involved in the construction of nuclear waste disposal facilities. Both municipalities host nuclear-related facilities.

Morita flatly denied the allegations, telling Kyodo News in writing that he has heard “rumors” that there have been moves aimed at hosting a nuclear waste disposal facility but “I myself haven’t gone anywhere and been treated to anything.”

I would reject any request from the central government” to host one, Morita said. The town approved an ordinance to reject a plan to host a nuclear waste disposal facility the year after the 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

A supporter of the mayor, however, did visit nuclear-related facilities in locations including Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, several years ago, according to the supporter’s admission, and a Tokyo company covered the expenses of the trip.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/02/national/government-release-map-potential-final-nuclear-disposal-sites-summer/

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Following its Nuclear Fiasco, Toshiba to Split into Four Subsidiaries

http://breakingenergy.com/2017/05/02/toshiba-to-split-into-four-subsidiaries/ on May 02, 2017 Early this year, Toshiba made the strategic decision to divest from its Westinghouse nuclear power generator in America. Now, the Chinese company has decided that splitting into subsidiaries is the only way to protect its other businesses. The four subsidiaries will be (1) infrastructure (including water treatment and railways); (2) energy (including thermal and nuclear power); (3) electronics (including data storage); (4) information and communications.

With the exception of the new energy subsidiary, the rest of the spin-offs would come into being in July 2017. Energy is set to be in effect in October.

The significant of the bankruptcy of Westinghouse is still unclear – many are concerned that the shutdown will have an effect on the nuclear power sector. As the four new subsidiaries demonstrate, the ramifications of this bankruptcy are clearly having their way with Toshiba.

 On the eve of the imminent bankruptcy, Moody’s Investors Service changed their outlook on all five utility companies involved in the project. Each was given a negative outlook.

The measures taken by Moody’s apply to the Vogtle entities. That is, Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia. Also included are the entities of the Summer project. Specifically, SCANA Corp. and the South Carolina Electric and Gas Subsidiary, as well as to the South Caroline Public Service Authority.

Moody’s justifies the new outlook as being reflective of the increased credit and regulatory risk that will be a result of the bankruptcy. The depleted financial condition of Toshiba contributes to this risk. In February, the company took a $6.3 billion write-down associated with Westinghouse’s overrun costs at the two nuclear projects in America.

Now, the bankruptcy has left Toshiba with what can amount to billions of dollars in potential losses. This presents serious struggles for the nearly 150 year old conglomerate. After the bankruptcy was announced, Toshiba shares in Tokyo stumbled nearly 4%. Moreover, losses from last year left the company with $2.1 billion of negative shareholder equity, which threatens its position on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

More immediate concerns for the company include the expiration of construction licenses, which are needed to sell equipment to the power industry. Unfortunately, the licenses have to be renewed every five years, but require that the company meet certain equity and capital targets. Toshiba’s weakened state jeopardizes the renewal process.

Some of Toshiba’s other revenue streams offer products such as turbines for gas, hydro, and geothermal plants. These power sector products are important to the company, and so the decision to create the subsidiaries is largely to protect those businesses from the potential fall out regarding the Westinghouse bankruptcy. Otherwise, the bankruptcy might end up being a roadblock to engaging in the power sector further.

With regards to the nuclear industry, the bankruptcy has the potential to threaten the completion of two current reactor projects in progress in the Southeast. Further, there is practically zero change that any new nuclear facility in the U.S. will be built in the foreseeable future.

Simply put, nuclear facilities are no longer cost effective. They were intended as an alternative to dirty  fossil fuels and expensive green energy, but neither of those are as problematic as they used to be. It seems as if the industry has no prospects left.

May 3, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

World Health Organization’s Flawed Fukushima Report

Hidden Radiation Secrets of the World Health Organization, CounterPunch  MAY 2, 2017

Alex Rosen of Int’l Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War critiqued the two WHO Fukushima reports, found to be extremely problematic, and once again, similar to Chernobyl, shoddy work that sweeps way too much dirt under the carpet.

Here’s the problem: WHO’s estimates of Fukushima radioactive exposure are at least 50% less than any other estimates, including estimates provided by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant operator) itself. But, WHO is supposed to be the guardian of public health concerns, not TEPCO.

Also, two critical population studies are ignored in the WHO reports, i.e., all of the residents within the 20 km exclusion zone are eliminated, even though their radiation exposure would be very high, actually highest. The second group ignored is workers on site… ahem!

Additionally, WHO cavalierly approved the Japanese government’s drastic change in annual maximum radiation exposure allowed for the general population up to 20 mSv per year.http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/02/hidden-radiation-secrets-of-the-world-health-organization/

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Japanese Government to release map of potential final nuclear disposal sites

Government to release map of potential final nuclear disposal sites this summer, Japan Times, 3 May 17 KYODO, STAFF REPORT, The government has set the criteria for a map meant to identify potential final disposal sites for high-level radioactive nuclear waste, paving the way for its release as early as this summer.

The process of finding a host for nuclear waste could face challenges amid public concerns over safety.

Based on the map, the government will approach select municipalities to allow research to be conducted for suitable sites to store waste from nuclear power generation.

For permanent disposal, high-level nuclear waste needs to be stored at a final depository more than 300 meters underground for up to about 100,000 years until radiation levels fall and there is no longer potential harm to humans and the environment.

The government plans to create a permanent underground repository somewhere in stable bedrock so the canisters can be stored for tens of thousands of years.

The map is likely to classify which areas are geologically suitable for such a structure to be built deep enough underground. This would rule out areas near active faults and volcanoes as well as oil and coal fields.

Based on waste transport criteria, the map is likely to show that zones within 20 km of the coastline are favorable to host final disposal sites.

The government hopes other municipalities — not just the ones located near nuclear power plants — may also become interested in hosting the disposal facilities. It also wants to show that a variety of places nationwide are suitable for nuclear waste management.

The map was originally planned for a 2016 release but the publication date was later postponed, as some local governments were wary that disposal sites would be imposed on them.

About 18,000 tons of spent fuel currently exist in Japan. Including spent fuel that has already been reprocessed, the country’s total jumps to about 25,000 canisters of vitrified high-level waste, all of which needs to be managed.

The process to find local governments willing to host final storage started in 2002, but little progress was made due mainly to opposition from local residents.

In May 2015, the central government introduced a plan announcing that final depository site selection would be based on scientific grounds, rather than waiting for municipalities to volunteer.

Before presenting the map, the government will hold symposiums between mid-May and June at nine cities to explain the map criteria to the public. The cities include Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka…….http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/02/national/government-release-map-potential-final-nuclear-disposal-sites-summer/#.WQlFDEWGPGg

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Japan, wastes | Leave a comment