Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. is reportedly making final arrangements to invest tens of billions of yen in French atomic energy company Areva jointly with Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. are making final arrangements to invest tens of billions of yen in atomic energy company Areva, which is being bailed out by the French government, sources close to the matter said Thursday.
Through the investment, the heavy machinery manufacturer and the spent-fuel reprocessing firm hope to improve technical cooperation with Areva on decommissioning reactors and reprocessing nuclear fuel.
Areva has been reeling from weak global demand since the 2011 Fukushima disaster triggered a slump in the nuclear power industry.
Areva is being bailed out by the French government, which has been asking Mitsubishi Heavy to invest since last year.
MHI President Shunichi Miyanaga had said that investing in Areva, which has expertise in decommissioning procedures and fuel reprocessing, would benefit Japan as it faces the prospect of decommissioning more aging nuclear reactors amid high public concern over nuclear safety.
A major Chinese nuclear power company is also considering investing in the state-owned group.
Mitsubishi Heavy is also planning to invest in Areva’s plant-building arm in hopes of winning orders to build nuclear power plants in emerging economies where demand is growing.
The heavy machinery maker and Areva are already involved in a joint venture to develop nuclear plants with advanced reactors.
Workers in the control room restart reactor 1 at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture Thursday night
Sendai reactor goes back online
Operators have powered on a nuclear reactor at a plant in western Japan on Thursday night after 2 months of inspections.
Officials at Kyushu Electric Power Company say workers have begun pulling control rods out of the Number One reactor at their Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture.
The reactor has been offline since October. Before that, it operated for 14 months as the first reactor in the country to go online under new regulations following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
The utility says it found no abnormalities during its regular and special inspections.
The special checks were added at the request of Kagoshima Governor Satoshi Mitazono, who took office in July. He asked the utility to see if strong earthquakes that occurred at nearby Kumamoto Prefecture in April had affected the plant.
Officials say they expect the reactor to reach criticality on Friday and begin transmitting electricity to the grid on Sunday. They also expect the plant to resume commercial operations in early January.
A group opposing the restart held a rally on Thursday outside the facility. Group leader Yoshitaka Mukohara said a proposed prefectural panel should first give a judgment before the reactor is brought online.
Governor Mitazono had promised to set up an expert panel to look into the reactor’s safety, but it has yet to be launched. Mukohara urged the governor to stick to his position.
Kyushu Electric fires up Kagoshima reactor after governor gives OK
FUKUOKA – Kyushu Electric Power Co. restarted a nuclear reactor in Kagoshima Prefecture on Thursday after the prefectural governor, who is opposed to nuclear power, effectively permitted the move last week.
Reactor No. 1 at the Sendai nuclear power complex is one of five reactors to have been reactivated under stricter safety regulations adopted in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima reactor meltdowns. Following resumption in August 2015, its operation had been suspended for a regular checkup since Oct. 6.
The utility pulled out control rods from the reactor at around 9:30 p.m. The reactor is expected to achieve criticality by Friday morning and to start power generation from Sunday. Commercial operation is set to resume from Jan. 6.
Kyushu Electric on Tuesday notified Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono of the planned restart of the reactor and was not requested to suspend it this time, it said.
Mitazono, who was elected in July on an anti-nuclear platform, asked the utility in August and September to immediately suspend operation of the plant. Reactor No. 1 came to a halt in October for a regular checkup.
The Sendai complex’s reactor No. 2 is scheduled to be suspended for regular checks from Dec. 16 to Feb. 27.
Mitazono had told the prefectural assembly earlier this month that he had no legal power to decide whether to restart the reactor, paving the way for the latest move.
On Thursday, however, Mitazono said that he will take “strong action, regardless of the reactor’s operation,” if an experts’ committee, which he plans to set up to examine safety at the plant, finds any safety problems.
Some 30 local residents and anti-nuclear group members gathered in front of the Sendai plant Thursday morning to protest the reactivation.
Question to ask: why call this a loan when the law, like USA Price Anderson Act, limits nuclear power co from liability and puts the govt on the hook for everything beyond that?
Answer: I’d say most likely simple propaganda. That’s the taxpayers TRILLIONS that’s going to a ‘forever’ nuclear power plant black hole. That money will never be paid back to govt. The only thing I can imagine is that the Govt reneges on the agreement and socializes utilities in Japan. Because either the corporation nor govt can survive unless they do that…. or they can play fictionalized accounting for public.
What do you think?
Japan will increase an interest-free loan to the operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power, by more than a third to 14 trillion yen ($123 billion), a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Spiraling costs from the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986 are threatening the viability of the utility known as Tepco and hampering its ability to clean up its wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The increase in the loan from 9 trillion yen is to cover the costs for compensation and decontamination areas around the plant, according to the source, who is not authorized to speak to the media.
Three reactors melted down at the plant after a magnitude 9 earthquake in March 2011, which sparked a tsunami that devastated a large section of Japan’s northeastern coastline.
More than 15,000 people were killed in the natural disaster, which also caused a loss of power and cooling at the Fukushima station.
Explosions in the wake of the reactor meltdowns led to a massive release of radiation that prompted the evacuation of 160,000 people from areas around the plant, many of whom will never be able to return.
The disaster is likely to cost 22.6 trillion yen ($199 billion), more than double an earlier government estimate.
Costs for decommissioning the wrecked reactors will be covered by a separate arrangement from the loan, according to the Nikkei newspaper, which earlier reported the increase in the loan for Tepco.
“Kikawada once said that building a nuclear plant is like doing a deal with the devil,”
Tepco ‘Deal With Devil’ Signals End to Japan’s Postwar Era, Business Week, October 21, 2011, “…..Tepco in 2002 admitted it had falsified maintenance reports at nuclear plants for more than two decades. Chairman Hiroshi Araki and President Nobuya Minami resigned to take responsibility.
In 2007, the utility said it hadn’t come entirely clean five years earlier and admitted to concealing at least six emergency stoppages at Dai-Ichi and a “critical” reaction at the plant’s No. 3 unit that lasted seven hours.
Kansai Electric, Chubu Electric Power Co., Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Hokuriku Electric Power Co. have also said they faked safety records. “Accidents, mishaps, lies, duplicities — the postwar landscape of Japan’s nuclear power development is filled with fiascoes,” the University of Toronto’s Donnelly said.
Amid the accidents and fake safety reports, the underlying premise that resource-poor Japan had to rely on nuclear power was rarely questioned by the government, industry or the country’s bureaucrats……
The majority of opinion surveys show Japan’s public now opposes nuclear power. Sixty percent of respondents to a Mainichi newspaper poll published on Sept. 20 said they favor phasing out atomic energy…..
“The nuclear industry is a very Japanese bureaucracy in nature, similar to the Japanese army during World War II,” said Tetsunari Iida, executive director at the Tokyo-based Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies and a former nuclear industry official. “They don’t listen to anybody.”
Fukushima has ruptured the usual consensus within Japanese industry. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-21/tepco-deal-with-devil-signals-end-to-japan-s-postwar-era.html
Mitsubishi Heavy faces tough decisions in nuclear power business Orders dry up at home and abroad after Fukushima disaster, Nikkei Asian Review, 8 Dec 16, TOKYO –– Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Japan Nuclear Fuel are putting the final touches on a plan to acquire a roughly 10% stake in the troubled French nuclear energy company Areva. But for Mitsubishi Heavy it is an agonizing decision.
Facing dim prospects for new domestic orders, both Mitsubishi Heavy and Japan Nuclear Fuel must find other ways to secure enough business to keep their equipment and workforces active.
Back in 2006, Mitsubishi Heavy partnered with Areva to develop a so-called Generation III+ pressurized-water reactor with state-of-the-art technologies. The team has been using the design to compete with the larger, older-generation pressurized-water systems promoted by two other groups: the team of Hitachi and General Electric, and the team of Toshiba and Westinghouse…….
The French government, which owns nearly 90% of Areva, is looking to cut its losses. Unprofitable businesses are being excised from Areva and a new company is being set up that will seek over 30% of its capital from Japan, China, and elsewhere. …
There are lingering worries inside Mitsubishi Heavy about this huge investment in Areva. To alleviate those concerns, Mitsubishi Heavy has voiced confidence that there will be another nuclear renaissance in 20 to 30 years……http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Deals/Mitsubishi-Heavy-faces-tough-decisions-in-nuclear-power-business
Mitsubishi Heavy, Japan Nuclear Fuel to invest in struggling Areva http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Deals/Mitsubishi-Heavy-Japan-Nuclear-Fuel-to-invest-in-struggling-Areva, 7 Dec 16,
Japanese companies eye nuclear power plant exports amid low domestic demend TOKYO — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Japan Nuclear Fuel are finalizing plans to invest in French nuclear giant Areva, which is currently in the throes of restructuring.
The two companies will take stakes in Areva to a combined 10% by jointly injecting 40 billion yen to 50 billion yen ($352 million to $440 million) by January 2017.
Along with Mitsubishi Heavy and Japan Nuclear Fuel, China National Nuclear Corp. may also become an investor.
Mitsubishi Heavy has already revealed plans to invest in Areva and a subsidiary while holding talks with the French government and the struggling company over the deal.
Areva has booked significant losses following a series of delays and cancellations to plant-construction projects and now finds itself going through a financial crisis.
A seismologist says about three-fifths of an active fault running more than 50 kilometers off the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima shifted in last month’s powerful earthquake.
The magnitude-7.4 quake on November 22nd registered a 5 minus on the Japanese seismic scale of 0 to 7. A tsunami 1.4 meters high was observed at a port in Miyagi Prefecture.
Professor Shinji Toda of Tohoku University analyzed the active fault that triggered the temblor, using data on seabed terrain and the locations of aftershocks.
He says a stretch of about 30 kilometers in the fault that runs from northeast to southwest shifted in the earthquake.
He believes a shift of the entire fault would have caused a more powerful quake, with a possible magnitude of 7.7.
He warns that the remaining part of the fault is close to the shore and has the potential to trigger a magnitude-7 quake.
Toda’s findings contradict a 2014 analysis of the area by Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
It stated that 2 fault lines, each about 20 kilometers long, could cause an earthquake with a magnitude of up to 7.1, much less than that of November’s quake.
Toda says it is important to improve that analysis, since the quake was more powerful than the utility’s estimate.
TEPCO says it will review its estimates if necessary.
Volunteer group continues checking fish off Fukushima as radiation levels drop
An olive flounder, estimated at 11 years old, measuring 90 centimeters long and caught in waters near the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, is seen on a ship about 2 kilometers from the plant, on Nov. 13, 2016.
IWAKI, Fukushima — As radioactive cesium levels in fish caught off the Fukushima Prefecture coast show lower levels that fall within safety limits set by the government, the Mainichi Shimbun recently accompanied a volunteer group that continues to measure these fish on one of its outings.
The group, called “Iwaki Kaiyo Shirabetai Umi Labo” (Iwaki marine investigative squad ocean lab), began its activities three years ago. Rather than relying on the national government, Fukushima nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. or others for data on radioactive pollution in the ocean off Fukushima Prefecture, the group aims to obtain this information itself and share it across the country.
On Nov. 13, a Mainichi Shimbun reporter boarded one of the group’s fishing ships, which set out from Hisanohama Port in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. Two kilometers from the disaster-stricken plant, the group pulled up a large, 90-centimeter, 7.7-kilogram olive flounder. This fish was caught by Eriko Kawanishi, a civil servant who came from Tokyo to participate in the outing and said it was her first time ever to hold a fishing rod. A 90-centimeter fish would be a rare catch even for a veteran fisherman.
The olive flounder was refrigerated and taken back to veterinarian Seiichi Tomihara at the Aquamarine Fukushima aquarium in Iwaki for dissection. Based on the growth rings on its “otoliths,” a structure located near the brain, Tomihara estimated the fish’s age at 11 years. He said there is research estimating the life expectancy of olive flounders at around 12 years, adding, “This looks like one of the oldest (one can find).”
A 1-kilogram slice of the fish put in a detector showed 14.6 becquerels of radioactive cesium — below the 100 becquerels-per-kilogram national safety limit for regular food products. Lately the research group has found no fish, including bottom-dwelling fish like olive flounder, that exceed this limit. In addition, radiation checks done by the prefectural government find hardly any cases of fish that top the safety limit.
Riken Komatsu, 37, joint-representative for the group, says, “This is the first time for us to check such an old olive flounder, and I thought there would be dozens of becquerels detected. The result was lower than I had imagined and I feel relieved.”
Fish that were already adult at the time of the disaster, with a slowed metabolism and a narrow range of habitat, tend to show high radiation levels, Komatsu says. With time having passed since the disaster, the generational replacement of the fish in the area has moved forward. The group says the highest radiation level it has detected so far was 138 becquerels from a 56-centimeter olive flounder in July 2014.
Olive flounder caught off of Iwaki are known as “Joban-mono” and have a good reputation. There is hope among locals that the fish will regain their pre-disaster popularity.
Komatsu says, “The prefectural government and fishing cooperatives are also releasing radiation readings from fish taken off Fukushima Prefecture, but I feel there are few taken from waters near the nuclear plant. Stronger data showing the fish’s safety (like data from fish near the plant) should raise the value of Fukushima olive flounder.”
Surf clams caught in waters off Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, in June
Radiation in fish off Fukushima tests below detectable level
FUKUSHIMA–Radiation in all seafood caught off Fukushima Prefecture tested below the detectable level in November for the first time since the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Species including bass, rockfish and stone flounder–sales of which were banned by the central government–were tested between Nov. 11 and Nov. 28, and the prefectural government said they all fell below the detection threshold, meaning radioactive cesium was not detected in any samples.
The main reason is that most fish species have undergone a generation change over the past five years with the contaminated marine life dying out, said officials at the prefectural government’s fisheries experimental station.
In addition, the passage of time helped fish exude radioactive cesium from their bodies.
The prefectural government began the tests in April 2011 following the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant the previous month.
Forty thousand fish and shellfish samples have been checked from 186 species over the past five and a half years.
The initial tests found that more than 90 percent of the samples were contaminated with radioactive cesium above the central government’s safety limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram.
The percentage of polluted fish and shellfish then declined annually.
The tests since April last year showed that the pollution in all samples was within the safety limit.
The monitoring covers seafood caught in 30 locations, in waters with a depth of 5 meters and at a distance of hundreds of meters from the shore, including the area in a 20-kilometer radius of the crippled plant.
Tokyo says Tepco may stay nationalized to deal with massive cost of nuclear disaster
Faced with massive ongoing costs stemming from the 2011 nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. may remain under state control longer than initially planned, the government said Monday.
Under the current plan, the utility would gradually reduce government involvement in its management from April.
However, at a key panel meeting the government proposed a revised option in light of the huge compensation and decommissioning expenses that are involved.
The government leads the business operations of the utility, known as Tepco, acquiring 50.1 percent of its voting rights through the state-backed Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp.
Some ministry bureaucrats have also been dispatched to the utility.
It is understood the state-backed body will assess efforts to reform the company in late March and make a decision on whether to reduce state involvement.
“The direction of Tepco reform is coming into sight,” said Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko at the panel meeting. “We have to come up with a more detailed picture of the reform.”
The government is seeking to split the activities of the utility into “business operations,” including retail sales and power generation, and “Fukushima operations” related to decommissioning reactors at the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and paying compensation, which would remain under public control.
As for Tepco’s business operations, the government plans to free them of state control at an early date, hoping to promote industry reorganization involving nuclear and energy distribution businesses.
The plan was revealed at the panel meeting at the trade ministry to study compensation and decommissioning issues facing the utility. The panel will compile proposals by the end of this year.
The government also seeks cooperation from other power companies in reactivating Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, which would be the main source of its revenue.
With the involvement of other utilities, the government hopes to ease local distrust of Tepco’s nuclear plant operations. Two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant are under prolonged safety examinations by nuclear regulators.
State ownership of TEPCO likely to continue as costs keep rising
The government will likely prolong its effective state ownership of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. because the expected costs for decommissioning its ruined Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and paying compensation continue to soar.
The industry ministry mentioned the rising expenses at a meeting on Dec. 5 with scholars and others.
The ministry at the meeting showed a six-item report titled, “Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the state’s role.” One pillar of the report was that the state should urge TEPCO to perform its responsibilities.
However, one of the participants said, “The state should hold a certain ratio of (TEPCO) shares for a long period.”
The government-approved Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. currently holds 50.1 percent of shares with voting rights of TEPCO.
The government planned to reduce the stake to less than 50 percent if it concluded at the end of this fiscal year that TEPCO could operate independently.
However, that scenario has collapsed.
Some sources now say total costs, including expenses for decommissioning and compensation, will probably exceed 20 trillion yen (about $176 billion).
TEPCO initially said that it would need a total of 11 trillion yen to resolve problems related to the plant that suffered a triple meltdown after being hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
That amount includes 2 trillion yen to decommission the reactors, 5.4 trillion yen to pay compensation to people affected by the disaster and 2.5 trillion yen to decontaminate areas polluted with nuclear substances.
However, an internal report worked out by the industry ministry in August showed that the costs for decommissioning would probably increase by 4 trillion yen and the compensation sum would likely rise by 3 trillion yen, making the total amount 18 trillion yen.
Cooling water briefly stopped at Fukushima plant
Injections of water to cool melted fuel in a reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant stopped briefly due to human error on Monday.
The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, says an alarm system was activated at around 10 AM when a water pump at the No. 3 reactor shut down.
An internal investigation by the utility found that a worker had mistakenly hit the pump’s switch with his elbow while checking instruments. TEPCO resumed the water injections using a different pump about 1 hour later.
The utility notified local prefectural authorities and nearby areas of the problem just one minute before it resumed the water injections.
TEPCO officials say they detected no changes in the temperature at the bottom of the reactor or in radiation levels at monitoring posts around the plant.
Also on Sunday night, cooling operations temporarily stopped in the spent nuclear fuel pool at the plant’s numbers 1, 2 and 3 reactors when some valves inexplicably opened.
TEPCO says it takes these human errors seriously and will do it best to prevent recurrences.
Fukushima reactor briefly loses cooling during inspection
One of the melted reactors at tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant had a temporary loss of cooling when a worker accidentally bumped a switch while passing through a narrow aisle of switch panels during an inspection and turned off the pumping system.
The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said cooling for the No. 3 reactor, one of the three reactors that melted following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, was out for nearly one hour Monday until a backup pump kicked in.
TEPCO said the reactor had enough water left inside and there was no temperature increase or radiation leak from the incident.
TEPCO acknowledged some other key switches are in similarly tight locations.
In the space-time of environmental devastation announced by the Anthropocene, nuclear catastrophe is a type of “fuzzy boundaries trouble” that challenges our capacity for understanding. We know from Günther Anders that it operates in the supraliminary sphere, so large that it cannot be seen or imagined, which causes cognitive paralysis. By Ulrich Beck that produces an anthropological shock, the transformation of the consciousness of the subjects in relation to the experience of insecurity and uncertainty in the face of an invisible threat. By Svetlana Alexeivich that is characterized by vagueness and indefinition, which produces a war without enemies. And by Olga Kuchinskaya that generates a politics of invisibility regarding public knowledge of its consequences for life.
As Chernobyl before, the Fukushima disaster has reached the maximum level in the scale of accidents, when several nuclear reactors melted down 200 kilometers from the most populous metropolitan area of the planet. The dangerous radionuclides, once enclosed between concrete and steel walls, began to blend intimately with the biosphere. Before this mutant ecology, the artists have responded from the first moments. Through photography, guerrilla art, dance, video art or fiction narrative, this artistic response to the nuclear crisis has faced a double invisibility: the one of ionizing radiation and the institutional invisibility – the affirmation of the authorities that the problem “is under control”.
Taking as a theoretical framework the interdisciplinary discussion of the Anthropocene and its critical epistemologies, such Jason Moore’s Capitalocene and Donna Haraway’s Chthulucene, we investigate how artists are staying with the trouble in Fukushima. Recalibrating our sensory systems to adjust them to the contradiction and volatility of industrial advances, we explore the ability of art to construct an ontology complementary to hegemonic technoscience, one that allows us a more in-depth understanding of what nature and we humans has become in the Anthropocene.
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