nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Japanese local governments depend on “nuclear money”

November 30, 2020 Posted by | Japan, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear reactor no.1 – debris prevented from falling into fuel storage pool

Fukushima reactor one step closer to fuel removal, https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201127_05/ The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has finished work to prevent large debris from falling into a fuel storage pool in the No.1 reactor building.

Tokyo Electric Power Company on Thursday released footage showing precautions it had taken to keep a broken crane from falling into the pool.

The crane, weighing 161 tons, has been hanging over the pool since a hydrogen explosion hit the building in March 2011. The pool is still holding nuclear fuel.

The video shows a platform being moved on rails to a spot directly under the broken part of the crane. A bag on the platform is then filled with mortar and fixed to the crane to hold it in place.

The entire process was done remotely due to high levels of radiation in the reactor building.

TEPCO plans to install a cover over the whole building before starting the removal of fuel from the pool as early as fiscal 2027.

November 28, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Survey finds that most Fukushima evacuees do not intend to return

65% of Fukushima evacuees have no intention of returning home: survey https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/11/675982b84707-65-of-fukushima-evacuees-have-no-intention-of-returning-home-survey.html
KYODO NEWS Osaka, 
Sixty-five percent of the people who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture after the March 2011 nuclear disaster have no intention of returning, according to a recent survey conducted by a Japanese university.

While the survey, conducted by a research facility at Kwansei Gakuin University, only received responses from 522 of 4,876 people to whom questionnaires were sent, it provided a rare insight into how former residents see the reconstruction of their former home.

The government of the northeastern prefecture has not carried out such surveys in recent years. There were over 36,900 evacuees within and outside the prefecture as of October, according to the prefectural government.

Among the 522 respondents who resided in the prefecture at the time of the nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant triggered by the massive quake and ensuing tsunamis, 341 people said they do not intend to return.

According to the survey conducted between July and September, 138 people said they plan to go back and 43 people did not answer or offer a valid response.

In response to a multiple-choice question asking why they have not returned to their homes, 46.1 percent said they still fear contamination of the environment, followed by 44.8 percent who said they have settled down in places they currently live.

November 28, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Destructive potential of over a million tons of radioactive water into the Pacific

Almost Unnoticed Nuclear Pandemic Is Spreading in Japan,  https://indepthnews.net/index.php/the-world/asia-pacific/3967-almost-unnoticed-nuclear-pandemic-is-spreading-in-japanBy Manlio Dinucci,  MONTREAL (IDN) 4 Nov 20,It was not Covid-19, therefore the news went almost unnoticed: Japan will release over a million tons of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea. The catastrophic incident in Fukushima was triggered by the Tsunami that struck the north-eastern coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, submerging the power plant and causing the core of three nuclear reactors to melt.

The power plant was built on the coast just 4 meters above sea level with five-meter-high breakwater dams, in a tsunami-prone area with waves 10-15 meters high. Furthermore, there had been serious failures by the private company TEPCO (the Tokyo Electric Power Company) managing the plant, in the control of the nuclear plant: the safety devices did not come into operation at the time of the Tsunami.

Water has been pumped through the reactors for years to cool the molten fuel. The water became radioactive and was stored inside the plant in over a thousand large tanks, accumulating 1.23 million tons of radioactive water. TEPCO is building other tanks, but they will also be full by mid-2022.

TEPCO must continue pumping water into the melted reactors and has decided to discharge, in agreement with the government, the water accumulated so far into the sea after filtering it to make it less radioactive (however, to what extent it is not known) with a process which will last 30 years. There is also radioactive sludge accumulated in the decontamination filters of the plant, stored in thousands of containers, and huge quantities of soil and other radioactive materials.

As TEPCO admitted, the melting in reactor 3 is particularly serious because the reactor was loaded with Mox, a much more unstable and radioactive mix of uranium oxides and plutonium.

The Mox for this reactor and other Japanese ones was produced in France, using nuclear waste sent from Japan. Greenpeace has denounced the danger deriving from the transport of this plutonium fuel for ten thousand kilometres.

Greenpeace also denounced that Mox favours the proliferation of nuclear weapons, since plutonium can be extracted more easily and, in the cycle of uranium exploitation, there is no clear dividing line between civilian and military use of fissile material.

Up to now, around 240 tons of plutonium for direct military use and 2,400 tons for civil use (nuclear weapons can however be produced with them), were accumulated in the world (according to 2015 estimates), plus about 1,400 tons of highly enriched uranium for military use. A few hundred kilograms of plutonium would be enough to cause lung cancer to 7.7 billion inhabitants of the planet, and plutonium remains lethal for a period corresponding to almost ten-thousand human generations.

A destructive potential has thus accumulated, for the first time in history, capable of making the human species disappear from the face of Earth. The nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the more than 2,000 experimental nuclear explosions in the atmosphere, at sea and underground; the manufacture of nuclear warheads with a power equivalent to over one million Hiroshima bombs; the numerous accidents involving nuclear weapons and those involving civilian and military nuclear plants, all this has caused radioactive contamination that has affected hundreds of millions of people.

A portion of approximately 10 million annual cancer deaths worldwide – documented by WHO – is attributable to the long-term effects of radiation. In ten months, again according to the World Health Organization data, Covid-19 caused about 1.2 million deaths worldwide.

This danger should not be underestimated, but it does not justify the fact that mass media, especially television, did not inform that over one million tons of radioactive water will be discharged into the sea from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, with the result that it will further increase cancer deaths upon entering in the food chain.

November 26, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Resident against Japanese nuclear reactor OK’d for restart says safe evacuation impossible

Former fisherman Yukitoshi Watanabe maintains that resuming operation of Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant would be dangerous. In the Yoriisohama district of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, as seen in this photo taken on Oct. 21, 2020, many signs protesting nuclear power have been set up by groups comprising youth in the community.

November 12, 2020

ISHINOMAKI, Miyagi — While the governor of Miyagi Prefecture, where the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant is located, gave “local consent” on Nov. 11 to the restart of a reactor at the plant, those who live in the area remain anxious as local municipalities’ evacuation plans in the case of a major incident are said to be insufficient by residents and local assemblies alike.

The go-ahead to resume the operation of a reactor at Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa nuclear power station came after Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai attended a meeting with the mayors of the Miyagi prefectural town of Onagawa and city of Ishinomaki, which the plant straddles.

About 1 kilometer away from the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant is Ishinomaki’s Yoriisohama district, where residences surround a fishing harbor. Three aging signs that are set up alongside the one road that links the district to the outside world declare objections to nuclear power. They were put up by an organization of youth and others in the district.

Yukitoshi Watanabe, 80, is a former local fisherman who participated in an anti-nuclear demonstration by boat more than 40 years ago when the community wavered between hosting a nuclear power plant or not.

“Despite the incident at Daiichi Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, in 10 years we’re back to where we were. The evacuation plan is absolutely unrealistic, and escaping safely is impossible,” Watanabe said angrily.

In August of this year, the Miyagi Prefectural Government invited officials from the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), the Cabinet Office, and Tohoku Electric Power Co., and held sessions for residents to inform them of safety measures and evacuation plans that would be put into place. During the question-and-answer session, Watanabe raised his hand and asked, “Are you able to keep your head held high and tell your children and grandchildren (about restarting a nuclear reactor)?”

Including his great-grandchild, who is about to turn a year old, Watanabe lives in a family of 10 people spanning four generations. Living in the Yoriisohama district, which sticks out further east into the Pacific Ocean than the nuclear power plant, there’s no way to evacuate on land except by heading in the direction of the plant. It is unclear whether the national or prefectural government will build and maintain a highly safe evacuation route, and Watanabe says, “(An evacuation) route should be a prerequisite for deciding whether to restart the nuclear plant, and it shouldn’t have to be the local community’s responsibility to build one.”

Watanabe is considering a possible evacuation by boat, if such a measure is needed. He knows the dangers of the ocean, but he is more scared of his children and grandchildren being exposed to radiation.

“If something happens, we will have to leave this land, where our family has lived for generations, and fishing, and our home, throwing our hands up in despair. We must not leave any fears or anxieties to the future.”

(Japanese original by Nobuyuki Hyakutake, Ishinomaki Local Bureau)

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201112/p2a/00m/0na/026000c?fbclid=IwAR0RAoDUhj7vfwccET984-ENVTYnxCCy2fbJJe3vUKwwpyJkBno2jk4J-xs

November 22, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Taiwanese protest plan to dump water from Japan nuclear plant into sea

November 21, 2020 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear, Taiwan, wastes | Leave a comment

Surveys to identify nuclear waste disposal site begin in Hokkaido

Surveys to identify nuclear waste disposal site begin in Hokkaido, Japan Times 18 Nov 20, First-stage surveys began Tuesday in two municipalities in Hokkaido to see whether their locations are suited to hosting a final disposal facility for high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants in the nation.The Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, or NUMO, started the so-called literature surveys in the town of Suttsu and the village of Kamoenai in the northernmost main island, marking the first time such surveys have ever been conducted in the country. On the day, the industry ministry gave the necessary approval for the surveys to be conducted.

The town of Toyo in Kochi Prefecture had previously applied for a literature survey in 2007, but later canceled the application before the survey began.

The literature survey, which checks geological literature and data, is the first of three stages of examination in the selection process. Suttsu and Kamoenai will each receive up to ¥2 billion in state subsidies in exchange for underdoing the first-stage survey……..

First-stage surveys began Tuesday in two municipalities in Hokkaido to see whether their locations are suited to hosting a final disposal facility for high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants in the nation.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, or NUMO, started the so-called literature surveys in the town of Suttsu and the village of Kamoenai in the northernmost main island, marking the first time such surveys have ever been conducted in the country. On the day, the industry ministry gave the necessary approval for the surveys to be conducted.

The town of Toyo in Kochi Prefecture had previously applied for a literature survey in 2007, but later canceled the application before the survey began.

The literature survey, which checks geological literature and data, is the first of three stages of examination in the selection process. Suttsu and Kamoenai will each receive up to ¥2 billion in state subsidies in exchange for underdoing the first-stage survey……

In response to the start of the first-stage survey, Hokkaido Gov. Naomichi Suzuki released a statement saying that he was “opposed at the moment” to the second-stage survey, reiterating his intention not to give his approval. …….https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/11/18/national/hokkaido-nuclear-waste-surveys/

November 19, 2020 Posted by | Japan, wastes | Leave a comment

No. 2 reactor at Tohoku Electric Power Co’s Onagawa nuclear power plant for restart, despite problems

As nuclear worries linger, Tohoku plant heads for landmark restart,   BY ERIC JOHN, 18, Nov, 20  OSAKA – On Nov. 11, Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai gave the green light to restarting the No. 2 reactor at Tohoku Electric Power Co’s Onagawa nuclear power plant. While the reactor is not expected to begin generating power until construction to improve the plant’s safety is completed, the governor’s approval paves the way for the first reactor damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake to resume operation.

The restart, the first in northeastern Japan, comes amidst controversial restarts in the country’s west following the quake and at a time when the energy source’s future economic and political feasibility is being debated after the government announced a target of Japan being carbon neutral by 2050.

It is also the first reactor in northeastern Japan to be restarted, as well as the first Boiling Water Reactor, the same type of reactor as those that melted down at the Fukushima plant following the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami.

What is the Onagawa nuclear plant and what happened to it after the earthquake and tsunami?

The Onagawa nuclear power plant sits on a peninsula in Miyagi Prefecture about 130 kilometers from the epicenter of the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami. It has three reactors, one of which is being decommissioned.

………..The government’s current long-term energy strategy calls for nuclear power to provide between 20% and 22% of the nation’s electric power supply by fiscal 2030. The Agency for Natural Resources has said to meet that goal, the restart of 30 reactors is necessary.

There are a number of issues that could make that goal difficult. These include the cost of meeting the new NRA safety standards that went into place after 3/11 and the time needed to upgrade facilities. For the operator, those costs raise questions of whether it is worth investing and whether nuclear power-generated electricity will remain competitive with renewable energy in the coming years.

Other issues could also drive up the costs of restarting more reactors, beginning with subsidies to local governments. With no financial incentive, village heads, city mayors and prefectural governors could delay or refuse permission to restart. Even if permission is granted, operators may face lawsuits from residents opposed to restarts, a process that could delay or even halt the process if a judge rules in their favor, which would mean further costs for the operator.

The government’s current long-term energy strategy calls for nuclear power to provide between 20% and 22% of the nation’s electric power supply by fiscal 2030. The Agency for Natural Resources has said to meet that goal, the restart of 30 reactors is necessary.

There are a number of issues that could make that goal difficult. These include the cost of meeting the new NRA safety standards that went into place after 3/11 and the time needed to upgrade facilities. For the operator, those costs raise questions of whether it is worth investing and whether nuclear power-generated electricity will remain competitive with renewable energy in the coming years.

Other issues could also drive up the costs of restarting more reactors, beginning with subsidies to local governments. With no financial incentive, village heads, city mayors and prefectural governors could delay or refuse permission to restart. Even if permission is granted, operators may face lawsuits from residents opposed to restarts, a process that could delay or even halt the process if a judge rules in their favor, which would mean further costs for the operator.

November 19, 2020 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear disaster: Fukushima schools frozen in time

Nuclear disaster: Fukushima schools frozen in time  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1365/

November 17, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 1 Comment

Cabinet minister rules out new nuclear reactors for 10 years

Industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama during an interview with The Asahi Shimbun on Nov. 10

November 12, 2020

Industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama is signaling that the government will not allow for the construction of new nuclear reactors to replace aging ones or to be installed additionally at nuclear plants for the next decade.

His position suggests the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees the nuclear industry, is unlikely to discuss the option of building new reactors in the new Basic Energy Plan it has been developing.

The plan has been revised twice since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Heeding a national sentiment exceedingly anxious of nuclear energy, the government has passed up discussing building new reactors in past revisions of the plan.

In an interview with The Asahi Shimbun on Nov. 10, Kajiyama acknowledged it is still premature to discuss the issue now.

“Public faith has yet to be restored,” he said of public sentiment toward nuclear energy after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant. “How can we proceed (without it) in constructing new reactors to replace aging ones or to make additions? We are simply not at the stage where we can talk about the next move.”

Kajiyama said the government’s priority over the next 10 years will be regaining public faith in the nuclear industry, rather than pushing for the construction of new reactors.

But he defended nuclear energy as a “necessary energy” source that the country will still need to rely on.

He said the nation’s 36 nuclear reactors, including three that were under construction before the Fukushima accident occurred, “should be fully utilized.”

The minister said the number of nuclear reactors that will be reactivated over the coming decade will be a point that the government will take into account as an indication of the public’s acceptance of nuclear energy when it comes to mulling over constructing new reactors.

“It is also related to the government’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality in 2050,” he said.

His comments suggest the government may begin considering constructing new reactors if more local governments approve restarting nuclear plants that were idled after the Fukushima accident.

Currently, only one reactor at the Genkai nuclear plant in Saga Prefecture is operating in Japan after a reactor at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture was shut down for maintenance earlier this month.

Kajiyama underlined the need to develop small modular reactors, which are smaller than conventional reactors.

He said engaging in a modular reactor project would be meaningful when it comes to maintaining the nation’s technology for safeguarding nuclear power and nurturing scientists in the field–not to mention the potential for spinoffs.

“It could lead to the development of new materials and other technologies,” he said.

Last month, Prime Minster Yoshihide Suga laid out Japan’s plan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

That may prompt a possible review of Japan’s current energy target for fiscal 2030, with nuclear power and renewables accounting for 20-22 percent and 22-24 percent of total power generation, respectively.

But Kajiyama said whether the 2030 target will be revised is up in the air, as more consultation with energy experts is needed.

The industry minister also doused hopes for the early introduction of carbon taxes and the emission trading system, both of which are initiatives aimed at spurring businesses to cut their carbon dioxide emissions.

“They may eventually be introduced but doing so in the early stages will prove extremely costly,” he said.

(This story was written by Hiroki Ito and Rintaro Sakurai.)

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13924315?fbclid=IwAR0QBUA7n3VHzNQs0dNn46o2aU2FrEZpnBiSLUGirj0aAGXrbb1UMG5igCU

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Miyagi’s Onagawa NPP reactor’s final approval to restart

Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai (center) hold talks Wednesday in the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, with Yoshiaki Suda (left), mayor of the town of Onagawa in the prefecture and Hiroshi Kameyama, mayor of Ishinomaki

Tsunami-hit Onagawa reactor in northeast Japan gets final approval to restart

November 12, 2020

Sendai – A nuclear reactor in Miyagi Prefecture damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami disaster in 2011 has cleared the last hurdle to resume operations, getting the green light Wednesday from local officials.

The No. 2 unit of Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa plant is the first of the reactors damaged in the disaster to win final approval with local consent to restart.

Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai and the mayors of Onagawa and Ishinomaki, the two municipalities that host the unit, gave their consent at a meeting after the plant cleared national safety screening in February.

“There is an excellent, stable supply of electricity in a nuclear plant, and the plant can also contribute to the local economy,” Murai said during a news conference after the meeting in Ishinomaki.

A Tohoku Electric official said the utility will “continue to do its best to ensure safety” in plant operations.

Tohoku Electric says it plans to restart the No. 2 reactor in fiscal 2022 at the earliest after work on safety and disaster prevention measures is completed, such as the construction of an 800-meter-long seawall at the plant.

The Onagawa plant is the closest nuclear plant to the epicenter of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that struck nine years ago.

The central government has been pushing for the reactor to be reactivated so as to ensure a stable power supply, with trade minister Hiroshi Kajiyama seeking Murai’s consent in March.

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said during a news conference that gaining local consent marks an “important” step.

The municipal assemblies for Onagawa and Ishinomaki had already given their consent, as had the prefectural assembly. On Monday, the leaders of most of Miyagi’s 35 municipalities agreed at a meeting to support the decisions of Onagawa and Ishinomaki.

Part of the reason for local approval is the money generated by hosting the reactor, with Onagawa having received from the central government around ¥27 billion ($256 million) in grants in the past, as well as hefty property taxes from Tohoku Electric.

Masanori Takahashi, chairman of the town’s chamber of commerce lobbying local leaders to support the restart, said, “We are getting closer to the end of disaster-linked infrastructure development projects,” adding it is now “absolutely necessary to restart the reactor to get the town’s economy going.”

Some local residents, however, believe the approval was rushed, saying concerns linger over whether evacuation plans can actually be implemented in the event of a nuclear accident.

The 825,000-kilowatt boiling water reactor won approval to restart from the Nuclear Regulation Authority earlier this year, becoming the second disaster-damaged reactor to pass stricter safety standards put in place after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

A massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, triggering one of the worst nuclear disasters since the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Fukushima Prefecture, which is adjacent to Miyagi.

At one point, the disaster caused all of Japan’s 54 reactors to be brought to a halt. So far, nine units at five plants in the country have restarted following regulatory and local approval.

At the Onagawa complex, all three reactors — the same boiling water reactors as were used at the Fukushima No. 1 plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. — shut down but the underground floors of the No. 2 unit were flooded, after the facility was hit by a tsunami of up to 13 meters.

In Onagawa, more than 800 people were listed as killed or missing.

As the plant’s emergency cooling system functioned normally, there was no meltdown of the type that occurred at three of the six reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

The utility has decided to decommission the reactor’s No. 1 unit, and is considering whether to request a review by the authority to restart the No. 3 unit.

Other boiling water reactors at sites including the Tokai No. 2 plant of Japan Atomic Power Co. in Ibaraki Prefecture have also won the regulator’s approval to resume operations, but have yet to obtain local consent.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/11/12/national/onagawa-reactor-restart/

From left: Yoshiaki Suda, mayor of Onagawa, Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai and Hiroshi Kameyama, mayor of Ishinomaki, hold a news conference in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on Nov. 11.

Approval given for 1st restart of nuclear plant damaged in 3/11

November 12, 2020

SENDAI, Miyagi Prefecture–Citing expected economic benefits, local governments approved the first restart of a nuclear power plant damaged in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai on Nov. 11 said the decision on resuming operations of the No. 2 reactor at the Onagawa nuclear plant was “not an easy one.”

Required safety measures must still be completed at the plant, and questions remain about the evacuation route that will be used in the event of a disaster at the plant, which straddles the municipalities of Onagawa and Ishinomaki on the Pacific coast.

However, residents near the nuclear plant have requested a resumption of nuclear power operations to revive their depleted communities.

“We can expect many jobs to be created if the nuclear plant resumes operations,” Murai said. “Municipalities hosting the plant will also have increased tax revenues through the restart of the plant in terms of fixed property tax and nuclear fuel tax.”

His announcement followed a meeting with the mayors of Onagawa and Ishinomaki earlier in the day, in which the governor confirmed their approval of the planned restart.

Tohoku Electric Power Co., operator of the Onagawa plant, needed the consent from the host communities as well as Miyagi Prefecture although it is not a legal mandate.

The utility expects the reactor, with an output capacity of 825 megawatts, to be brought online as early as in 2023, when it plans to complete an array of projects designed to strengthen the safety of the plant.

“A critical decision was made as we are aiming at a restart,” the utility said in a statement about Murai’s announcement. “We are determined to strive in full force to enhance safety features of the facility.”

If restarted, the No. 2 unit will be the first boiling water reactor in Japan brought online since the 2011 nuclear disaster. The reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which suffered a triple meltdown after being swamped by the tsunami, are also boiling water types.

All reactors in Japan were shut down after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Since then, nine reactors at five nuclear plants have resumed operations. They were all pressurized water reactors located in western Japan.

When the 13.0-meter tsunami hit the Onagawa plant after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the No. 2 reactor building was just high enough to escape the water.

Still, part of the equipment to cool the reactor failed, and more than 1,000 cracks were discovered in the reactor building.

The Onagawa plant has two other reactors. Tohoku Electric decided to retire the No. 1 reactor, but it is preparing to apply for a restart of the No. 3 reactor.

The utility compiled a set of safeguards for resuming operations of the No. 2 reactor, including construction of a 29-meter-high sea wall as protection against tsunami.

In February, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the government nuclear watchdog, certified the No. 2 reactor as meeting the more stringent reactor regulations put in place after the Fukushima disaster.

The following month, industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama urged Murai to agree to the restart of the Onagawa plant.

Japan had 54 nuclear reactors before the disaster struck in the Tohoku region.

Since the Fukushima accident, the number has fallen to 33, as other reactors were retired.

The central government needs to bring around 30 reactors online to achieve its target of nuclear energy representing 20 to 22 percent of the nation’s overall energy output in fiscal 2030.

The government hopes the restart of the Onagawa nuclear plant will prompt other municipalities that host boiling water reactors to accept a resumption of their operations.

(This story was written by Shinya Tokushima and Susumu Okamoto.)

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13923994

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan now has 16 reactors that meet requirements

November 11, 2020

Japan now has 16 reactors at nine nuclear power plants that have cleared government requirements adopted after the 2011 Fukushima accident.

The No.2 reactor at Tohoku Electric Power Company’s Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture, and the reactor at Japan Atomic Power Company’s Tokai No.2 plant in Ibaraki Prefecture were affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Tokai No.2 has yet to win local consent to restart.

Tohoku Electric’s Higashidori plant in Aomori Prefecture, also a part of the Fukushima disaster zone, is undergoing screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

Reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear plants are set to be scrapped.

Reactors that have already been put back online are: the No.1 and No.2 units at the Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture; the No.3 and No.4 units at the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture; the No.3 and No.4 units at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture; the No.3 and No.4 units at the Ohi plant, also in Fukui Prefecture; and the No.3 unit at the Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture.

The Sendai and Genkai plants are operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company, the Takahama and Ohi plants by Kansai Electric Power Company and the Ikata plant by Shikoku Electric Power Company.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201111_32/

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Miyagi officials to OK restart of quake-damaged nuclear plant

The Onagawa nuclear power plant operated by Tohoku Electric Power Co.

November 10, 2020

Local governments in Miyagi Prefecture neared approval for the planned restart of the No. 2 reactor at the Onagawa nuclear power plant that was damaged in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

A meeting of all mayors in the prefecture was held on Nov. 9 to hear their views on resuming operations. Some mayors said it was still too early to bring the reactor online, but the general consensus was in favor of the plan of Tohoku Electric Power Co., the operator of the nuclear plant.

The meeting ended with approval to let Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai and the mayors of Onagawa and Ishinomaki, where the nuclear plant is located, make the decision on behalf of all the mayors.

The three local leaders are expected to hold a meeting on Nov. 11 to approve the resumption of operations, sources said.

After gaining local government consent, Tohoku Electric Power will still have to complete various safety measures before the reactor can go back online, such as building a 29-meter-high seawall to protect the plant from tsunami. The reactor is now expected to be operating again in 2023.

It would be the first reactor to restart after being damaged by the 2011 natural disaster.

The Onagawa plant, located about 130 kilometers from the epicenter of the earthquake, recorded a seismic intensity of lower 6 on the Japanese scale of 7.

Part of the plant’s cooling system was damaged by flooding, but plant officials said they were able to safely stop reactor operations after the quake and tsunami.

The No. 2 unit at the Onagawa plant could also become the first boiling water reactor (BWR) to restart since the quake struck. It is similar in basic design to those at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant that suffered meltdowns in the disaster. The Fukushima reactors have all been decommissioned.

Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima were the three prefectures hardest hit by the quake and tsunami.

Local residents, fishermen and business people of Onagawa took the initiative to seek approval for resuming operations at the nuclear plant.

About 800 town residents were killed in the 2011 disaster, and Onagawa’s population has decreased from about 10,000 to about 6,000.

Half of the 600 or so companies in the town closed for good. The Onagawa chamber of commerce, which includes businesses that sell supplies to the nuclear plant, submitted a request to the town assembly in February, asking that plant operations be resumed.

In May, the Onagawa branch of the Miyagi prefectural fisheries cooperative made a similar request.

Local fishermen whose homes and boats were damaged received financial support from the town government. They also benefited from outlays in an insurance program that received subsidies from the town government from fiscal 2011 to cover premiums that the fishermen could not afford to pay.

The Onagawa government could provide such support because of the local property and other taxes it receives from the nuclear plant.

The Onagawa town’s fiscal adjustment fund that is the equivalent to the savings it possesses reached 9.4 billion yen ($89.5 million) before the 2011 natural disaster. That figure is about half the amount in the fund for Sendai, the prefectural capital, which has about 100 times the population of Onagawa.

The Miyagi prefectural government has also received about 10 billion yen in tax grants in connection to the nuclear plants in the prefecture.

(This article was written by Shinya Tokushima and Susumu Okamoto.)

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13917522

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

In desperate search of disposal sites for its nuclear waste, Japan offers poisonous grants to two small villages

Masao Takimoto chez lui à Kamoenai, sur l’île d’Hokkaido au Japon, devant des affiches où l’on peut lire « Non aux déchets nucléaires ».

November 9, 2020

One morning in September, 87-year-old retiree Masao Takimoto was reading the newspaper in his house in Kamoenai when a news story captured his attention, ruined his day and changed the course of this quiet fishing village on the island of Hokkaido, in northern Japan : the mayor of the village of 822 had agreed to a preliminary study to host a disposal site for highly radioactive nuclear waste, for which the Japanese government would award 2 billion yen (€16 million, US$19 million) in subsidies.

Mr Takimoto didn’t waste a single minute. He wrote a letter of protest and delivered it by hand to the mayor’s house. Over the following days, he produced and distributed leaflets alerting others to the dangers of the nuclear disposal site and tried to gain access to the meetings that were being hastily held. His journey to activism resulted in tensions and anonymous threats. Ultimately he was unable to stop the mayor from signing on 9 October an application with the Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NUMO), a quasi-governmental body charged with managing Japan’s radioactive waste.

Meanwhile, just 40 km away, another fishing village of 2,900 inhabitants quickly mobilised to prevent their mayor from volunteering for the same study. Suttsu, 40 per cent of whose inhabitants are over 65 years old, announced in August its interest in applying for the large subsidy to combat depopulation. Haruo Kataoka, 71, the town’s mayor since 2001, has been accused of ignoring civil society groups, national anti-nuclear organisations, fishers’ associations, leaders of neighbouring municipalities, the think tank CEMIPOS and even the governor of Hokkaido. The region, a major source of fishing and agricultural resources, has an ordinance opposing nuclear waste in its territory.

“We want to vote on the proposal. We’re worried about our fishing industry. If nuclear waste is stored here and there are problems in the future, we won’t be able to protect the environment or our jobs,” says Toshihiko Yoshino, a fishing entrepreneur in Suttsu. Yoshino processes and sells the local specialty, oysters, young sardines and anchovies. On 10 September, with a group of residents both young and old, he founded the organisation ‘No to Nuclear Waste for the Children of Suttsu.’ They collected signatures to request a referendum. On the eight day they launched a campaign to implement it, in collaboration with civil groups in the region. Their efforts were in vain : the mayor signed the application in Tokyo the following day. The previous morning, a Molotov cocktail exploded at the mayor’s house, an incident that left no one injured.

Someone broke the bicycle that Junko Kosaka, 71, was using to hand out leaflets against the nuclear disposal site. She has been a member of the opposition in the Suttsu council for nine years and laments the tension and discord between neighbours. “The village has no financial problems. There are fishing companies and profitable sales of fish. We receive a large budget from Japanese citizens who support rural areas through the Hometown Tax scheme.” She was surprised by the age of NUMO’s managers, all of whom are elderly, and believes that young people should decide their own future. “I would like the managers to reflect, to rethink nuclear energy. We are a country of disasters.”

Emptying villages and poor employment prospects

Japan is the world’s fourth largest producer of nuclear power after the United States, France and China. Distributed across the archipelago, 54 reactors generated 30 per cent of electricity until 2011. Despite having shut down the majority of reactors following the fatal accident of Fukushima, Japan’s commitment to nuclear energy remains firm, though not without controversy. Nine reactors are still in operation and 18 are waiting to be reactivated to generate 20 per cent of the country’s electricity in 2030.

Since 2002, the government has been looking for a location for a permanent geological repository, concrete structures at least 300 metres below ground that will store radioactive waste for millennia so as not to affect life and the environment. Desperate to solve a global and irreversible problem of the nuclear age, Japan is offering subsidies to encourage localities to host the repository. Small villages with declining populations and uncertain futures are attracted by the promise of money and jobs. The first phase will consist of two years of feasibility research. For the following phase, a four-year preliminary geological investigation, villages will receive an additional 7 billion. The final phase will consist of digging and the construction of the underground facility, a process that will last 14 years. But where is the waste ? “It cools off in overflowing pools while time runs out,” say many frustrated opponents of nuclear energy in Japan.

For decades Japan has been shipping tons of spent fuel to France and England for reprocessing, but the resulting radioactive waste must be returned to the country of origin for disposal by the IAEA. Japan only has a temporary repository (between 30 and 50 years – and half of that time is already up) in the village of Rokkasho, but 40,000 highly polluting cylinders are waiting for a permanent storage (the construction of which could take at least 20 years). The central government must also find storage for low-intensity waste occupying the equivalent of eight Olympic-size swimming pools. Every time a power plant operator uses gloves, a suit or tools, the earth fills with rubbish that contaminates for generations. France, Belgium, Sweden and Spain already have disposal sites for several centuries and Finland has just opened a permanent site in one of the oldest rock formations in Europe.

In 2007, the city of Toyo asked to enter the preliminary study but soon backed out after facing strong local opposition. In 2017, the central government released a map of potentially suitable sites. It ruled out sites near active volcanoes and fault lines, as well as areas with recent seismic activity. A wide area of Suttsu and a small portion of Kamoenai are seen to be favourable. Both locations are very close to the Tomari nuclear power plant, which is currently inactive.

The residents of Suttsu turned to experts for help. On 2 October, Hideyuki Ban, co-director of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre came to the town with a renowned geologist to provide information to residents. According to the nuclear expert : “There is no space for the nuclear repository in Suttsu. We have to reclaim land from the sea and there hasn’t been enough research. Our country is not a geologically stable territory.” He says that 200 people attended the seminar, including the mayor “who must have already made the decision.” Is it safe ? “It is not safe, there could be leaks. Currently there is no appropriate technology in the world for handling radioactive waste. The only way to reduce it is to shut down the plants.” So what should be done with the waste ? “More research should be done and it should be buried using deep borehole disposal at more than 3,000 metres below the earth’s surface.”

A debated that is not promoted

Nobody in Kamoenai wants to talk to the press. By mid-morning, the boats have returned and the women are cleaning the salmon for sale. There are empty houses and closed businesses which have seen better days. In the main street, an imposing building is under construction : the new town hall, just opposite the old one. “I’m an employee of the town hall and I’m not authorised to respond,” says one young woman. “I’m not an expert, I can’t give an opinion,” says a young man. “I don’t want to talk, I could lose my job,” says a worried woman. “We have the power plant nearby and nothing bad has ever happened,” says another evasively. Takimoto is the only person willing to speak out without fear : “It’s an obscure and cowardly process, nothing is transparent. The political administration is stifling the voices of the people. It’s strange that the most important thing, safety, isn’t being mentioned. We have to think about future dangers.”

“The government claims that it will be safe for years to come, that’s their argument. But should we believe it ? The experts say the opposite. Just this year, on the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I was reading testimonies that made me cry. I have seen the effects of radiation on patients. I don’t want the children of Fukushima or of my village to suffer from it. We have to imagine a village without a nuclear power station or nuclear waste and that’s what I’m going to dedicate myself to,” he adds.

“I’ve been booed at local meetings, but there are people who support me in secret. Many of them pretend to be in favour but deep down they’re not. They don’t speak out for fear of losing their jobs, like the relatives of plant employees.” Takimoto refuses to give up. He has offered his experience in the health sector as a resource to help revitalise the town through projects such as medical tourism, but he has been unable to prevent the application from going through.

The Japanese government has welcomed the two locations (Kamoenai and Suttsu) and NUMO’s president expressed gratitude “for the courageous step”. The Minister of Industry said that they “will do their best to win the support of the people.” But the governor of Hokkaido has firmly stated that he will oppose the second phase. Those who oppose the disposal site fear that receiving the subsidies will make it difficult to back out due to government pressure. According to local journalists Chie Yamashita and Yui Takahashi of the Mainichi Shinbun : “Without going into whether or not applying is the right thing to do, there needs to be a debate about the management of radioactive waste and the process of selecting a location.” Everyone consulted for this article is calling for a national debate, which the government has not yet set in motion.

Some residents, like Takimoto, continue to protest : “No to nuclear waste. Life is more important than money.” On the poster, a baby dreams of a world and an ocean without pollution.

https://www.equaltimes.org/in-desperate-search-of-disposal#.X6mvJVBCeUl

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Suga: Japan has no plan for new nuclear plants

Nov. 4, 2020

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has ruled out new nuclear plants or new reactors for Japan at this point, as the country aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Suga was answering questions from Constitutional Democratic Party leader Edano Yukio in the Lower House Budget Committee on Wednesday.

Edano urged an early end to Japan’s reliance on nuclear power. He noted that many people who were forced to evacuate after the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are still unable to go back home. He said it is inconceivable to build a new nuclear plant.

Suga said he has declared that Japan would become carbon neutral by 2050, despite differing views within his Liberal Democratic Party. He stressed the government has no plan to build any nuclear plant.

In the same committee, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Kajiyama Hiroshi said his ministry will continue efforts to upgrade safety so that nuclear power would remain an option in 2050. He said the efforts will include development of new technologies, such as advanced innovative reactors.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201104_32/?fbclid=IwAR0T4xmx3iXwGzTuGbs392X601LyvMwWR2QqSADflPgAgioiryn0Tz0UGkk

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment