nuclear-news

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

Japan’s new Basic Energy Plan looks to increased renewable energy. Nuclear power unlikely to go ahead much.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has compiled a draft
revision to Japan’s Basic Energy Plan, which indicates the direction of the
government’s energy policy. The revision brings our attention to the
predicted ratios of various power sources in fiscal 2030.

In order to reduce our dependence on carbon, renewable energy sources were increased
from 22 to 24% three years ago to 36 to 38% in the latest draft revision.
Some view this increase as being insufficient in making renewable energy
Japan’s main energy source.

But we commend the willingness expressed to
undertake the maximum possible implementation of renewable energy as an
utmost priority.

Meanwhile, doubts remain about the percentage of power
generation comprising nuclear reactors. The new Basic Energy Plan is trying
to maintain the 20 to 22% set in the 2015 revisions to the Basic Energy
Plan, but that is unrealistic. To achieve that kind of ratio, Japan would
need to be operating around 27 nuclear reactors at a high rate in fiscal
2030. However, since the major incident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, only 10 nuclear
reactors have resumed operations. The percentage of power generated by
nuclear reactors in fiscal 2019 was a mere 6%.

 Mainichi 28th July 2021

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210728/p2a/00m/0op/004000c

July 29, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, Japan | Leave a comment

”Nuclear Games” expose Japanese government’s spin about the Olympic Games.

In the runup to July 23 opening ceremony, the Olympic torch relay was deliberately routed through Fukushima Prefecture, including the towns where the plant is located, and others nearby that were long abandoned in the wake of the disaster. Olympic baseball and softball competitions are also being held in a stadium in Fukushima Prefecture.

Billions will watch the Olympics and get the carefully crafted message that everything in Fukushima is fine, and that nuclear meltdowns are quickly lived down. But that’s dangerous denialism. We need a global education effort to promote basic literacy about nuclear dangers in order to make future nuclear disasters less likely.”

Games for the young coincides with Tokyo Olympics, Saily News, 26 July 21,

Perhaps it was also a reflection of the longstanding cat-and-mouse game played by the world’s nine nuclear powers – the US, UK, France, China, Russia, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel – violating the Olympic ideals of peace and humanity with a resurgent nuclear arms race.

The coalition says Nuclear Games shines a light on nuclear issues which are deliberately downplayed by governments, including by Japan as it presents the Olympics with a virtually empty stadium because of Coronavirus restrictions.

Japan experienced nuclear bombings in 1945 and also suffered one of the world’s most devastating nuclear power accidents in 2011 and remains deeply affected by them.Tuesday, July 27, 2021 -Coinciding with the opening ceremony, a coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), anti-nuclear activists and youth leaders launched Nuclear Games, an innovative film and online platform addressing nuclear history and the risks and impacts of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy……………..In a press release, the coalition of NGOs said that nuclear dangers and tensions are rising today. According to the Pentagon, the risk of nuclear war is growing. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock advanced this year to 100 seconds to midnight – closer to nuclear war even than during the Cuban Missile Crisis……

Nuclear Games was developed by interactive video books pioneer Docmine, a Swiss-based creative studio, with support from Basel Peace Office, Youth Fusion, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Switzerland and the World Future Council.

It is offered in English and German and aimed at non-usual suspects: people who don’t typically watch political documentaries or engage in anti-nuclear advocacy work, says the coalition.

“It will have particular resonance with younger viewers, many of whom are unfamiliar with the history it conveys of nuclear disasters, near misses, and ongoing threats and impacts.”

Joseph Gerson, President of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security, and Vice-President of the International Peace Bureau, told IDN: “In addition to appreciating the film’s pointing to the ongoing existential nuclear dangers on the eve of the 76th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bombings, I am glad that the Games’ press release points to the hypocrisy of the Olympics being held midst the pandemic.”

He said the Japanese Government has cynically spent trillions of Yen to prepare for the Olympics and then insisted on holding them against the opposition of most people in Japan.

“With only a quarter of the Japanese population vaccinated against Covid-19, we should reflect on how many more Japanese people would be alive today and next year were those Yen, and others spent on building one of the world’s most advanced militaries, instead been devoted to developing and purchasing vaccines. I hope that Japanese voters will bear this in mind when it is election time this fall,” Gerson declared.

In the runup to July 23 opening ceremony, the Olympic torch relay was deliberately routed through Fukushima Prefecture, including the towns where the plant is located, and others nearby that were long abandoned in the wake of the disaster. Olympic baseball and softball competitions are also being held in a stadium in Fukushima Prefecture.

“This is government spin, deliberately minimizing and normalizing the disaster, and ignoring Fukushima’s ongoing impacts and threats to public safety,” said Dr Andreas Nidecker, MD, Basel Peace Office president and the originator of the Nuclear Games concept.

Billions will watch the Olympics and get the carefully crafted message that everything in Fukushima is fine, and that nuclear meltdowns are quickly lived down. But that’s dangerous denialism. We need a global education effort to promote basic literacy about nuclear dangers in order to make future nuclear disasters less likely,” he declared.  http://www.dailynews.lk/2021/07/27/features/254937/nuclear-games-young-coincides-tokyo-olympics

July 27, 2021 Posted by | Japan, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Radioactive cesium found in honey produced near Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

Cesium exceeding the standard in honey produced near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan   https://www.newsdirectory3.com/cesium-exceeding-the-standard-in-honey-produced-near-the-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-power-plant-in-japan/?fbclid=IwAR14svkp8cegftROdHB3KZDmQPYPNKW3UOmJK99m85ydVnwXG7ZqPlmjzqQ

written by News Dir July 24, 2021 The Yomiuri Shimbun reported on the 23rd that cesium, a radioactive substance exceeding the standard, was detected in honey produced in Namie-machi, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

According to the report, Fukushima Prefecture announced on the previous day that 130 to 160 becquerels of cesium were detected in honey produced by the beekeeping department of the Sawakami Management and Cultivation Association in Namie-machi, which exceeds the government standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram (㏃).

Namie-machi is an area near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and there are still many ‘difficult-to-return areas’ where decontamination work of antiseptic materials has not been completed.

This is the first time that cesium exceeding the standard has been detected in honey in Fukushima Prefecture. The Sawakami Management and Cultivation Association is recovering honey that was sold at local stores and other stores, Yomiuri said.

By Kwon Jae-hee, staff reporter jayful@asiae.co.kr

July 26, 2021 Posted by | environment, Japan | Leave a comment

Japan’s cleaner energy vision marred by burden of nuclear power

Cleaner energy vision marred by burden of nuclear power, Asahi Shimbun July 24, 2021,  The industry ministry July 21 laid out its vision for a cleaner energy future in its draft new Basic Energy Plan. The blueprint gives a breakdown of energy sources to power the nation in fiscal 2030 to achieve the government’s goal of carbon neutrality, or net-zero carbon dioxide emissions, in 2050.

It states that promoting renewable energy sources should be the policy priority and set a target of raising the share of renewables in the nation’s overall power output by 14 points to 36-38 percent in fiscal 2030. The ministry deserves to be lauded for declaring that renewables should a primary energy source.
The industry ministry July 21 laid out its vision for a cleaner energy future in its draft new Basic Energy Plan. The blueprint gives a breakdown of energy sources to power the nation in fiscal 2030 to achieve the government’s goal of carbon neutrality, or net-zero carbon dioxide emissions, in 2050.

It states that promoting renewable energy sources should be the policy priority and set a target of raising the share of renewables in the nation’s overall power output by 14 points to 36-38 percent in fiscal 2030. The ministry deserves to be lauded for declaring that renewables should a primary energy source.

But its decision to maintain the share of nuclear power at the current level of 20-22 percent is baffling.But its decision to maintain the share of nuclear power at the current level of 20-22 percent is baffling.
By contrast, costs of power generation using renewable energy sources have shown a steady decline. Solar power generation for businesses will produce 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity at estimated costs in the lower 8-yen range to the higher 11-yen range in 2030.

Even though the draft energy supply blueprint calls for reducing Japan’s reliance on nuclear power as much as possible, it nevertheless sets an unrealistic target for the share of nuclear power……..
…..The first order of business for the ministry is to define the composite of power sources in 2050 required to achieve carbon neutrality. Currently, the only imaginable main source of electricity to ensure a greener energy future is renewables.

Clean energy accounted for 21.7 percent of Japan’s total power output last year, close to the target for 2030 (22-24 percent). It would be wiser to make utmost use of the huge potential of renewable energy…………. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14402202

July 26, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Japanese govt’s new Basic Energy Plan will prioritise renewable energy

The industry ministry July 21 laid out its vision for a cleaner energy future in its draft new Basic Energy Plan. The blueprint gives a breakdown of energy sources to power the nation in fiscal 2030 to achieve the
government’s goal of carbon neutrality, or net-zero carbon dioxide emissions, in 2050. It states that promoting renewable energy sources should be the policy priority and set a target of raising the share of
renewables in the nation’s overall power output by 14 points to 36-38 percent in fiscal 2030.

The ministry deserves to be lauded for declaring that renewables should a primary energy source. But its decision to maintain the share of nuclear power at the current level of 20-22 percent is baffling.

 Asahi Shimbun 24th July 2021

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14402202

July 26, 2021 Posted by | Japan, politics, renewable | Leave a comment

Safety blunders fuel Japan’s mistrust of nuclear power

Safety blunders fuel Japan’s mistrust of nuclear power. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is the biggest nuclear power station in the world. Tucked away on a remote shoreline of the Sea of Japan, the plant can generate nearly eight gigawatts of electricity from its seven reactor halls – about 5 percent of total demand in Japan.

In the last ten years, however, this symbol of the atomic period has not produced enough power to turn on a light bulb. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa shares the same owner, Tokyo Electric, and the same basic design as the three reactors that melted in Fukushima after a tsunami knocked out their cooling systems in 2011.

The public is still opposed to the restart of nuclear power – and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is part of the reason why. Tepco’s failure to regain public confidence was recently plagued by the scandal surrounding its operational existence. In 2002, the company confesses after ‘systematic and inappropriate management’ of
inspections at the plant, after failing to report cracks in reactor components to its regulator. In 2007, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa was hit by an earthquake of more than 6.6 more powerful than it allowed in the design of the plant, but Tepco did not learn lessons that could have prevented the Fukushima disaster.

 FT 23rd July 2021

https://www.ft.com/content/57bdef2e-2d1b-4d06-8163-830f17764219

July 24, 2021 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Softball match in Fukushima was intended to showcase ”recovery from nuclear disaster”, but that has fallen flat.

Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, was among those clinging to the hope that a softball match would help convince a worldwide TV audience that life in Fukushima had returned to normal. But the opening day of the Tokyo Games, held in the shadow of coronavirus, ended up conveying a different message: that collective trauma unleashed by a nuclear accident, and now by a global pandemic, was never going to be extinguished by the swing of a bat

The Games were supposed to be an opportunity to show the current status of Fukushima

No entry: symbolism in Fukushima as Olympics begin in empty stadium, Guardian,  Justin McCurry at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, Wed 21 Jul 2021 

Silence and sadness greets a softball match meant to signal the recovery of a city devastated by earthquake and tsunami in 2011

After a year’s delay and months of rancour, finally some Olympic sport. Few will remember the details of Yukiko Ueno’s opening pitch to Michelle Cox in Japan’s softball match against Australia in Fukushima on Wednesday morning. But her delivery, witnessed by the organising committee president, Seiko Hashimoto, signalled that the most bizarre Games of modern times really are happening.

Depending on how deep the world’s reserves of optimism run, the first action of the 2020 Games could mark a turning point for the troubled Olympics or, more likely, bring only ephemeral relief from the viral cloud that hangs over the host city, Tokyo.

There was, though, a symbolism to Japan’s 8-1 victory over Aussie Spirit that predates the pandemic by almost a decade. In one sense, Japan’s Olympic project came full circle at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, located in a region whose proximity to tragedy inspired its pitch for the “recovery Games”. Forty miles east of the stadium stands the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. On the afternoon of 11 March 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake triggered a towering tsunami that destroyed huge swaths of Japan’s north-east coast, killing more than 18,000 people and sweeping away entire towns.

The same waves crashed into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering meltdowns in three of its reactors and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes while plant workers, firefighters and soldiers battled to cool the reactor cores. Ten years on, many are still unable or unwilling to return to their old neighbourhoods.

The decision to award Fukushima softball and baseball matches was intended to prove to the world that the wider region had recovered from the tsunami and the nuclear crisis was “under control,” as the then Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, told the International Olympic Committee in 2013 in a last-ditch effort to rescue Tokyo’s bid. But the virus’s recent surge in the host nation, centred on Tokyo, meant that one convincing sign of recovery – the communal enjoyment of sport – was missing in Fukushima……….

The teams lined up for national anthems observed in near silence, watched by a large contingent of Japanese reporters and officials sheltering beneath a small section of the stadium not exposed to the blazing morning sunshine. After Uchibori overturned organisers’ plans to allow a limited number of spectators, hundreds of local volunteers were told their services were no longer needed. ………….

“The Games were supposed to be an opportunity to show the current status of Fukushima, and we had various plans in mind before the decision to ban spectators,” said Seiichi Anbai, the chairman of the Fukushima city softball association, according to the Kyodo news agency. “Our emotions are polarised because, considering the coronavirus situation, it is sort of understandable but at the same time, we wanted the Games to take place in front of an audience.”

A Fukushima hotelier, who asked not to be named, felt the region had been exploited. “They said they would put on the Olympics for the sake of Fukushima, but I don’t think many people here feel like that’s really happening,” she told the Guardian. “It all comes down to politics.”

“The government has taken advantage of Fukushima right from the start,” she added, referring to the decision to begin the Japan leg of the torch relay at J-Village, a football training complex that functioned for years as a logistics hub for crews working to control and decommission the damaged nuclear plant 12 miles away………

Fukushima has come a long way since wild animals roamed streets where atmospheric radiation made it too dangerous for residents to return. But its recovery will continue long after the softball and baseball Olympians have gone home.

In the next couple of years, the operator of Fukushima Daiichi – Tokyo Electric Power – will begin releasing more than a million tonnes of contaminated water into the Pacific ocean, a move opposed by local fishermen who have spent years repairing the reputational damage to their industry. The plant itself will take decades to decommission, and at a cost of billions of dollars.

Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, was among those clinging to the hope that a softball match would help convince a worldwide TV audience that life in Fukushima had returned to normal. But the opening day of the Tokyo Games, held in the shadow of coronavirus, ended up conveying a different message: that collective trauma unleashed by a nuclear accident, and now by a global pandemic, was never going to be extinguished by the swing of a bat.  https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/jul/21/no-entry-symbolism-in-fukushima-as-olympics-begin-in-empty-stadium

July 22, 2021 Posted by | Japan, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Using snakes to monitor Fukushima radiation,

Using snakes to monitor Fukushima radiation, EurekAlert, 21 July 21,

Researchers placed tiny GPS trackers on rat snakes to track their movements at Fukushima

UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA  Ten years after one of the largest nuclear accidents in history spewed radioactive contamination over the landscape in Fukushima, Japan, a University of Georgia study has shown that radioactive contamination in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone can be measured through its resident snakes.

The team’s findings, published in the recent journal of Ichthyology & Herpetology, report that rat snakes are an effective bioindicator of residual radioactivity. Like canaries in a coal mine, bioindicators are organisms that can signal an ecosystem’s health.

An abundant species in Japan, rat snakes travel short distances and can accumulate high levels of radionuclides. According to the researchers, the snakes’ limited movement and close contact with contaminated soil are key factors in their ability to reflect the varying levels of contamination in the zone.

Hanna Gerke, an alumna of UGA’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, said tracked snakes moved an average of just 65 meters (approximately 213 feet) per day.

An abundant species in Japan, rat snakes travel short distances and can accumulate high levels of radionuclides. According to the researchers, the snakes’ limited movement and close contact with contaminated soil are key factors in their ability to reflect the varying levels of contamination in the zone.

Our results indicate that animal behavior has a large impact on radiation exposure and contaminant accumulation,” Gerke said. “Studying how specific animals use contaminated landscapes helps increase our understanding of the environmental impacts of huge nuclear accidents such as Fukushima and Chernobyl.”  https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-07/uog-ust072021.php

July 22, 2021 Posted by | environment, Japan, radiation | Leave a comment

3rd generation Nagasaki A-bomb survivor continuing decades-long work for a nuclear-free world.


3rd-gen Nagasaki A-bomb survivor continuing decades-long work for nuclear free world, 
July 18, 2021 (Mainichi Japan)NAGASAKI — A third-generation atomic bombing survivor from Nagasaki is fulfilling a promise he made to A-bomb survivors, or hibakusha, who have passed on to continue their work for a world without nuclear weapons.

In anticipation of “an age without hibakusha” where already aging A-bomb survivors will no longer be able to directly pass down their stories, Mitsuhiro Hayashida, 29, has returned to his home city of Nagasaki for the first time in a decade to tell a wide range of generations the reality of atomic bombings. He assumed the position of a specially appointed research fellow at the Nagasaki University Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition on July 1.

……………..  Moved by hibakusha who appealed for a world without nuclear arms even though they were sick themselves, Hayashida promised aging A-bomb survivors that he would work with them toward the goal of nuclear abolishment……….

In 2016, he assumed leadership for the International Signature Campaign in Support of the Appeal of the Hibakusha for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, calling for all states to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which bans all forms of nuclear arms activities including the possession and use of such weapons. The movement collected over 13.7 million signatures and the group submitted them to the U.N.

While the nuclear weapons ban treaty came into effect in January 2021, many hibakusha who treated Hayashida like their grandson have passed away. Wanting to keep his promise he made to the A-bomb survivors, Hayashida returned to Nagasaki in June this year.

He still remembers his late grandfather, who was exposed to the radiation approximately 1.5 kilometers from the hypocenter in the Nagasaki atomic bombing, telling him tearfully about his experience on that fateful morning on Aug. 9, 1945, right before his death. Going forward, Hayashida will be involved in the digitalization of hibakusha testimonies and atomic bombing-related documents. He also plans to work on finding people who are willing to talk about their experience in the bombing.

“For people to feel what the lives of hibakusha were like, which cannot be conveyed just by numbers, I want to record threads of their stories in ways so that people will be able to see their faces, and pass down intimate hibakusha testimonies to the next generations,” Hayashida said.

(Japanese original by In Tanaka, Nagasaki Bureau)  https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210716/p2a/00m/0na/022000c



July 19, 2021 Posted by | Japan | Leave a comment

Japanese government considers extending maximum nuclear reactor lifespan beyond 60 years


Japan mulls extending maximum nuclear reactor lifespan beyond 60 years
, KYODO NEWS – Jul 16, 2021 Japan is considering extending the maximum service period for its nuclear reactors beyond 60 years due to anticipated public opposition to the construction of new plants, sources close to the matter said Thursday.

The government is seeking to make long-term use of existing nuclear plants rather than building new ones or replacing reactors, as sought by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and some business circles.

But such an extension could spur concerns about the safety of aging reactors that are prone to accidents.

………….The government plans to submit a bill to amend the law regulating nuclear reactors to the ordinary Diet session next year.

It will also discuss inspection and assessment methods to determine whether a reactor should be approved to operate for more than 60 years, referring to cases abroad such as in the United States where they can operate for up to 80 years.

In June, the No. 3 unit at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, became the country’s first reactor to operate beyond 40 years under the new rules.

According to government sources, a proposal has been floated to revise the law to allow multiple extensions beyond 60 years providing screening standards are met.

There are also calls within the LDP to exclude from the 40-year cap reactors that have been suspended since the Fukushima disaster.

Japan currently has 33 operable nuclear reactors, with another three under construction. But with several set to reach their 60-year maximum lifespan in the 2040s, only about 20 reactors are expected to still be in operation by 2050 under the current rules.

As part of the 2018 basic energy plan, which is being reviewed, the government is aiming for nuclear power to account for 20 to 22 percent of the country’s electricity generation in fiscal 2030 to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal.

The government estimates that about 30 reactors will be required to cover that level of power generation.   https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/07/c9d4d95b4cfa-japan-mulls-extending-maximum-reactor-lifespan-beyond-60-years.html

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Japan’s government acknowledges that solar power will be cheaper than nuclear

Solar power eclipses nuclear energy in terms of costs, Asahi Shimbun, By SATOSHI SHINDEN/ Staff Writer, July 13, 2021   For businesses looking ahead to reduce costs, solar power would definitely seem to be the way to go. Households could possibly benefit as well.

A new estimate by the industry ministry on future costs of power generation found that solar power will eclipse nuclear energy in terms of costs as of 2030.

The finding, released July 12, is expected to have significant implications for the nation’s energy policy.

This is the first time for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to acknowledge that the cost to generate solar power will be lower than that for nuclear power.

The estimates were presented at a meeting of a working group of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy the same day.

Estimated costs for nuclear power came to close to the 12 yen level or more per kilowatt-hour as of 2030, about 1 yen higher than the previous estimate in 2015.

Costs for solar power ranged from the lower 8 yen level to close to 12 yen for businesses. The rate for homes was estimated at between the last half of the 9 yen level to the first half of the 14 yen level.

The government and electric utilities have continued to champion nuclear power generation even after the 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, citing cost efficiency over other energy sources.

However, the latest estimates would seem to call the legitimacy of that argument into question and will likely have an impact on the government’s Basic Energy Plan, for which officials are working to revise.

 The Basic Energy Plan is updated almost every three years.

The industry ministry has finally acknowledged it can no longer maintain the position that nuclear power is the most economical source of energy,” noted Kenichi Oshima, a professor of environmental economics at Ryukoku University who studies the nation’s nuclear policy, referring to the latest findings about costs.

The estimated costs for generating electricity with nuclear energy have risen each time calculations were made.

The ministry was forced to include ballooning costs for decommissioning of nuclear reactors and decontaminating crippled facilities in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster…..

solar energy is getting cheaper.

The latest estimate for solar power was down from the previous calculation in 2015 because the costs of installing solar panels are dropping.

Charges for generating electricity are calculated as follows: the total cost of building a new power facility, operating it for decades and finally dismantling it divided by the overall amount of power produced during the period……  https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14394069

July 15, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, politics, renewable | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s ”nuclear recovery Olympics” has gone even more wrong, as spectators banned.

Fukushima to ban Olympic spectators as Covid cases rise, 
U-turn deals blow to Japan’s hopes of using Games to showcase recovery from 2011 tsunami, Guardian, 10 Jul 21, 
The Fukushima prefecture of Japan will bar spectators from the Olympic events it hosts this summer owing to rising Covid-19 infections, its governor said on Saturday, reversing a position announced two days earlier by organisers.

The decision deals another blow to Japan’s hopes of using the Olympics to showcase its recovery from a devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the northern coast in 2011, destroying a nuclear power station in Fukushima in the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

Organisers had said on Thursday there would be no spectators in the host city, Tokyo, as a resurgent coronavirus forced the prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, to declare a state of emergency in the capital that will run throughout the Games, which were already postponed by a year due to the pandemic……..

Fukushima’s move comes a day after the Australian Olympic Committee president, John Coates, expressed optimism about audiences in Fukushima. Japan take on Australia in a softball game that will be the first competition of the Olympics on 21 July, two days before the opening ceremony.

………. Organisers said there was no change to plans for limited crowds in Miyagi, Shizuoka and Ibaraki prefectures.  https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/jul/10/fukushima-to-ban-olympic-spectators-as-covid-cases-rise

July 12, 2021 Posted by | health, Japan, politics | Leave a comment

The danger of Japan’s increasing stockpile of plutonium

Japan’s plutonium stockpile climbs to 46.1 tons in 2020, first rise in 3 years, July 10, 2021 (Mainichi Japan)     TOKYO — Japan was in possession of a total of some 46.1 metric tons of plutonium at home and abroad as of the end of 2020, the Cabinet Office reported to the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) on July 9. The amount represents an increase of about 0.6 tons from the previous year.

The JAEC had stated that the country would reduce its plutonium stockpile under guidelines revised in July 2018, and the amount in its possession had been on a downward trend since then. The reported increase was the first in three years.

Plutonium is extracted from spent nuclear fuel generated at nuclear plants, for the purpose of recycling. However, the international community has expressed concerns over Japan’s large plutonium stockpile, saying it could be converted into nuclear weapons.

According to the Cabinet Office report, the latest increase in the nation’s plutonium stockpile was due to the addition of roughly 0.6 tons that had been stored in Britain after being extracted from nuclear fuel but which had not been included in the stockpile due to delayed procedures. As the extraction of plutonium in Britain and France has been completed, Japan has no more unrecorded stockpiles, according to the report.

Plutonium is mixed with uranium to produce mixed oxide (MOX) fuel for use at nuclear power plants. However, none of the nuclear plants in Japan used MOX fuel in 2020. As a result, the domestic stockpile remained at the same level as the previous year, at roughly 8.9 tons.

If the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant operated by Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. in the village of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, goes into full operation in fiscal 2023, Japan’s plutonium stockpile will increase. However, only 0.6 tons of plutonium is expected to be extracted from spent fuel at the plant in fiscal 2023………….https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210710/p2a/00m/0na/018000c

July 12, 2021 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear regulator to order review of earthquake risks of Genkai nuclear plant

NRA to call for quake resistance review at Genkai nuclear plant, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, July 8, 2021   The Nuclear Regulation Authority is set to order Kyushu Electric Power Co. to review the quake resistance of its Genkai nuclear plant, which could force the utility to make costly safeguards for the facility in Saga Prefecture.

The nuclear watchdog in April updated the method for estimating standard seismic ground motion, the maximum acceleration of earthquakes anticipated at and around nuclear plants.

It has directed electric power companies to review their estimates of how much seismic motion their plants can withstand based on the new method……….

The recent update concerns earthquakes that have focuses that have not been located and is based on findings of 89 temblors that have occurred since 2000.

While Kyushu Electric reviewed estimation of the standard seismic ground motion for its Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, it has dismissed the need for a review at the Genkai plant.

But Toyoshi Fuketa, chairman of the NRA, criticized the company’s response, questioning its approach toward the safety issue……… https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14390280

July 10, 2021 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

The 44 year process for demolishing TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear station, – with nowhere to put the radioactive trash.

TEPCO grants 1st peek at work to scrap Fukushima No. 2 plant, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14389389 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, July 7, 2021 

 Work to prepare for the decommissioning of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant is under way in Fukushima Prefecture, a mammoth project the operator plans to complete in about 44 years.

However, TEPCO has not yet secured a location to dispose of a large amount of radioactive waste, a difficult task that it plans to tackle in the years to come.

The project is expected to prove an enormous challenge to TEPCO as the utility needs to proceed with it while simultaneously taking on the even more formidable task of cleaning up the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Together, 10 reactors are housed at the two plants: four at the No. 2 plant and six at the No. 1 plant.

The company will need to train workers for the decommissioning, secure a workforce for the lengthy project that will span decades, and put measures in place to ensure the safety of the facilities when hit by natural disasters such as torrential rain, earthquakes and tsunami.

On July 6, reporters were granted access to the decommissioning work at the Fukushima No. 2 plant so they could show the work to the public for the first time since the process began on June 23.

The No. 2 plant is located on the coastal side of the towns of Tomioka and Naraha, and the work on July 6 revolved around decontamination at its No. 1 reactor building.

Donning protective gear, 12 workers from TEPCO and contractors cleaned up pipes around water tanks with a high-pressure washer in a room for inspecting the equipment that inserts and removes control rods from the reactor core.

The work to decommission the No. 2 plant will be divided into four stages, with each stage spanning a decade or so, according to TEPCO.

In the first stage, operators will focus on decontaminating the facility to prepare for the following stages.

After that, TEPCO expects to move on to the second stage, which involves the demolition and removal of equipment surrounding the nuclear reactors. The reactors will be dismantled and cleared in the third stage, and then finally the reactor buildings in the fourth stage.

“We are determined to steadily and safely proceed with the decommissioning work while gaining support and understanding from local residents,” said Takaki Mishima, the head of the plant.

Perhaps the most crucial question that must be resolved will be where high-level and low-level waste that will be produced from the decommissioning process should be temporarily stored before a permanent disposal site is found.

A total of 9,532 spent nuclear fuel rods–highly radioactive materials–are stored at the plant.

Fukushima officials are demanding they be removed from the prefecture by the time the decommissioning wraps up in fiscal 2064.

But no municipalities in Japan want to accept and house such dangerous materials in their backyards.

TEPCO estimates the amount of low-level radioactive waste will total 52,000 tons.

To dispose of the waste, it needs to be buried underground at a depth from several meters to more than 70 meters from the surface, depending on the levels of radioactivity.

But as of now, no potential sites in Japan for temporary storage have been determined, not to mention a final disposal site.

“That is a question we will address later,” an official from the utility said.

Although the Fukushima No. 2 plant was damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of 2011, it was spared from a meltdown and has been idle since.

TEPCO’s decision to pull the plug on the plant came at the insistence of the prefectural government and local residents.

(This article was compiled from reports by Shigetaka Kodama, Tetsuya Kasai, Yu Fujinami and Tsuyoshi Kawamura.)

July 8, 2021 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan | Leave a comment