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All Japan’s nuclear reactors may shutdown, as regulator is firm on safety measures

Japan’s nuclear reactors face new near-total shutdown, Regulator refuses to extend deadlines for installing antiterrorism measures Ft.com, Robin Harding in Tokyo APRIL 25, 2019 Japan is heading towards another near-total shutdown of its nuclear reactors after regulators refused to extend deadlines for completing antiterrorism measures. The Nuclear Regulation Authority said it would enforce deadlines that expired next summer for many operating reactors. Electricity companies have said there was almost no chance they would be ready on time. The regulator’s stance is a fresh blow to a nuclear power sector that has never recovered from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in 2011, when three reactors melted down after a tsunami knocked out their cooling systems. …….Each restarting reactor has its own deadline and a number of them expire next year — but none of the operators are likely to be ready in time. They will therefore have to shut the reactors down. For example, anti-terror work at the Sendai No 1 and No 2 reactors, run by Kyushu Electric, and the Takahama No 3 and No 4 reactors, run by Kansai Electric, must be completed next year.

……. Japan has struggled to restart its reactors in the face of strong public opposition and many are still offline. As of March 15, nine out of Japan’s 57 reactors had restarted. Several others have restarted only to shut down again because of injunctions issued by local courts.

……. the national government has not pushed for restarts, leaving it in the hands of regulators, utilities, courts and local politicians. The long-term future of the sector is therefore in doubt. https://www.ft.com/content/1b2c395e-6724-11e9-9adc-98bf1d35a056

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April 27, 2019 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Japan now has 9 operating nuclear reactors, all may close, due to inadequate safety measures

Japan nuclear plants threatened with closure over antiterrorism measures, Jakarta Post, The Japan News/Asia News Network, Tokyo, Japan   /   Fri, April 26, 2019  The Nuclear Regulation Authority has decided to order power companies to shut down nuclear reactors if they have not had certain facilities, legally required as antiterrorism measures, completed by specified deadlines.

Nine reactors are currently online at five nuclear plants across the nation, and these are unlikely to have the necessary facilities completed before their deadlines. Consequently, it is possible that, one by one, these reactors will have to suspend operations.

NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa emphasized the nuclear watchdog’s tough stance at a press conference Wednesday.

Reactors will be considered “nonconforming with required standards at the point the deadline passes,” Fuketa said.

“Overlooking any state of incompatibility would, in light of the authority’s position, be totally unacceptable,” he said.

The operators are required to build facilities from which nuclear reactors can be remotely controlled in the event of an emergency, such as an aircraft being deliberately flown into the plants. Installing such a facility became mandatory under new regulations introduced after the March 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law stipulates nuclear plants that do not meet certain conditions can be suspended from operating, but no decision had been made on how authorities would handle reactors currently online if the deadline for completing the emergency facility passes…….

Fuketa lobbed some stinging criticism at the utilities for the current situation.

“Not only were they overly optimistic about the construction work schedules, but they also were too optimistic about the reaction from the regulatory authorities,” Fuketa said. “They were grossly mistaken if they thought they might find a way through by asking for an extension when the deadline is drawing close.”

n a comment issued the same day, Kyushu Electric, Kansai Electric and Shikoku Electric said they would “continue making maximum efforts” to complete the facilities as soon as possible.

Profits could be hit

Halting the operation of nuclear reactors, which generate electricity at relatively low cost, could harm the earnings of power utilities and strike a major blow to their business performance.

Kyushu Electric is the utility facing the shortest deadline until it might have to switch off a reactor. Kyushu Electric’s No. 1 unit at the Sendai nuclear power plant was restarted in October 2015, which returned the company to profitability. Unplugging this reactor again would significantly affect the utility’s business performance……..https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/04/26/japan-nuclear-plants-threatened-with-closure-over-antiterrorism-measures-.html

April 27, 2019 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear regulators not impressed by nuclear facilities’ flimsy excuses about safety

VOX POPULI: Flimsy excuses by nuclear plant operators are unacceptable, Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a daily column that runs on Page 1 of The Asahi Shimbun., April 26, 2019   …………. three operators of nuclear power plants, seeking an extension of a very different kind of deadline, found the Nuclear Regulation Authority to be quite unforgiving.Kansai Electric Power Co., Shikoku Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co. were initially required to install anti-terror facilities against airborne attacks at their nuclear power plants by July 2018.

Having already failed to meet that deadline, the utilities on April 17 asked the government’s nuclear watchdog to extend it by another 12 to 30 months, but the plea was rejected on April 24.

The utilities have insisted in unison that installing facilities to remotely cool nuclear reactors would require the time-consuming work of drilling through mountains.

They probably thought this “excuse” was good enough to sway the government into extending the deadline.

No such luck.

The Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture will likely be shut down as a result, according to the NRA.

The utilities must be underestimating the odds of any of their nuclear power plants being targeted for a terrorist attack.

Have they already forgotten that North Korea was repeatedly test-launching its missiles until recently? And what about the Fukushima disaster of 2011, which occurred because virtually nobody wanted to consider the possibility of a mega-quake triggering a tsunami?

The “deadline” book mentioned above also contains an anecdote about author Akira Yoshimura (1927-2006), a stickler for punctuality who always handed in his manuscripts early, claiming he had a tendency to start panicking as the deadline approached. And he always attached a note to his editor, apologizing, in effect, for jumping the gun.

I guess it’s useless to expect the three utilities to emulate Yoshimura.   http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201904260032.html

April 27, 2019 Posted by | Japan, safety | 1 Comment

Safety and language problems, as Tepco plans to bring in foreign workers for Fukushima clean-up

April 25, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear regular demands safety steps, or reactors must close down

Japan to shut down nuclear plants if counterterror steps not taken in time, Japan Times, KYODO, AFP-JIJI, REUTERS, APR 24, 2019

Japan’s nuclear regulator decided Wednesday not to let power companies operate reactors if they fail to install sufficient counterterrorism measures by specified deadlines.

The decision by the Nuclear Regulation Authority came after three utilities that operate five nuclear plants in western and southwestern Japan requested that their deadlines be extended as they expect delays in completing counterterrorism steps required under stricter regulations introduced in 2013 following the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Kyushu Electric Power Co., Kansai Electric Power Co. and Shikoku Electric Power Co. had sought to postpone their five-year deadlines by one to three years, citing reasons such as the need to carry out massive construction work.

The three companies told the NRA that the measures would not be on time at 10 of their reactors, according to documents published on the regulator’s website.

But the regulator has declined their requests for extensions.

The power plant operators are required to build facilities that can keep reactors cool via remote control and prevent the massive release of radioactive materials if the units are the target of a terrorist attack, such as from planes being flown into them.

Nuclear plant operators need to set up such facilities within five years of the nuclear safety watchdog approving detailed construction plans for the plants.

But several firms have warned they will not meet these criteria. The NRA said after a meeting earlier Wednesday it would no longer push back the deadline as it has done in the past.

“There is no need to extend the deadline, and nuclear facilities have to stop operations if the operators fail to meet it,” an NRA official said.

He added that several other reactors were also at risk of being shut down………  https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/04/24/business/corporate-business/japan-halt-nuclear-plants-operations-anti-terrorism-steps-not-taken-time/#.XMDXGDAzbGg

April 25, 2019 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Despite World Trade Association ruling, Japan still asks S. Korea to lift ban on Fukushima seafood

Japan asks S. Korea to lift Fukushima seafood ban despite WTO ruling  April 23, 2019 (Mainichi Japan) TOKYO(Kyodo) — Japan on Tuesday urged South Korea to lift import restrictions on Japanese seafood introduced in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, even after the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of Seoul over the issue……

April 25, 2019 Posted by | Japan, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Japan Atomic Power considers launching unit that specializes in scrapping nuclear plants

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The Tokai No. 2 plant (right) operated by Japan Atomic Power Co. in Ibaraki Prefecture, is seen in this photo taken last July.
April 16, 2019
Japan Atomic Power Co. is considering setting up a subsidiary specializing in the scrapping of retired nuclear reactors at domestic power plants, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.
Japan Atomic Power, a wholesaler of electricity generated at its nuclear plants, is planning to have U.S. nuclear waste firm EnergySolutions Inc. invest in the reactor decommissioning service unit, which would be the first of its kind in Japan, the sources said.
The Tokyo-based electricity wholesaler, whose shareholders are major domestic power companies, will make a final decision by the end of this year, they said.
The plan is to support power companies’ scrapping of retired reactors using Japan Atomic Power’s expertise in decontaminating and dismantling work, in which it has been engaged in since before the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 complex, according to the sources.
The plan comes as a series of nuclear reactor decommissioning is expected at power companies in the country. Since stringent safety rules were introduced after the Fukushima disaster, 11 reactors, excluding those at the two Fukushima plants of Tepco, are slated to be scrapped.
Nuclear reactors are allowed to run for 40 years in Japan. Their operation can be extended for 20 years, but operators will need costly safety enhancement measures to clear the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s screening.
Decommissioning a reactor with an output capacity of 1 million kilowatts is said to take about 30 years and cost around ¥50 billion. Typically, some 500,000 tons of waste result from scrapping such a reactor, and 2 percent of the waste is radioactive.
Japan Atomic Power first engaged in decommissioning a commercial reactor in 2001 at its Tokai plant in eastern Japan. It has been conducting decommissioning work at its Tsuruga nuclear power plant in western Japan since 2017.
It is also providing support to Tepco for the decommissioning of reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
EnergySolutions, founded in 2006, has engaged in scrapping five reactors in the United States.
Japan Atomic Energy and EnergySolutions have had previous business ties, and the Japanese company has sent some employees to the Zion nuclear station in Illinois, where the U.S. partner has been conducting decommissioning work since 2010.

April 23, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Japan Atomic Power looks to big business cleaning up dead nuclear plants

Japan Atomic Power considers launching unit that specializes in scrapping nuclear plants  https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/04/16/national/japan-atomic-power-considers-launching-unit-specializes-scrapping-nuclear-plants/#.XLzjyDAzbGg KYODO, APR 16, 2019

Japan Atomic Power Co. is considering setting up a subsidiary specializing in the scrapping of retired nuclear reactors at domestic power plants, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.

Japan Atomic Power, a wholesaler of electricity generated at its nuclear plants, is planning to have U.S. nuclear waste firm EnergySolutions Inc. invest in the reactor decommissioning service unit, which would be the first of its kind in Japan, the sources said.

The Tokyo-based electricity wholesaler, whose shareholders are major domestic power companies, will make a final decision by the end of this year, they said.

The plan is to support power companies’ scrapping of retired reactors using Japan Atomic Power’s expertise in decontaminating and dismantling work, in which it has been engaged in since before the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 complex, according to the sources.

The plan comes as a series of nuclear reactor decommissioning is expected at power companies in the country. Since stringent safety rules were introduced after the Fukushima disaster, 11 reactors, excluding those at the two Fukushima plants of Tepco, are slated to be scrapped.

Nuclear reactors are allowed to run for 40 years in Japan. Their operation can be extended for 20 years, but operators will need costly safety enhancement measures to clear the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s screening.

Decommissioning a reactor with an output capacity of 1 million kilowatts is said to take about 30 years and cost around ¥50 billion. Typically, some 500,000 tons of waste result from scrapping such a reactor, and 2 percent of the waste is radioactive.

Japan Atomic Power first engaged in decommissioning a commercial reactor in 2001 at its Tokai plant in eastern Japan. It has been conducting decommissioning work at its Tsuruga nuclear power plant in western Japan since 2017.

It is also providing support to Tepco for the decommissioning of reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

EnergySolutions, founded in 2006, has engaged in scrapping five reactors in the United States.

Japan Atomic Energy and EnergySolutions have had previous business ties, and the Japanese company has sent some employees to the Zion nuclear station in Illinois, where the U.S. partner has been conducting decommissioning work since 2010.

April 22, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, wastes | Leave a comment

Hazardous removal of spent fuel rods is just one step in the Fukushima nuclear clean-up

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Japan has a new kind of visa to lure foreign blue collar workers for Fukushima clean-up

Japan Aims to Hire Foreigners for Nuclear Cleanup

The country’s largest utility is working to decommission the Fukushima plant amid radiation risks at the site of the 2011 disaster, WSJ , By Mayumi Negishi and Chieko Tsuneoka, April 18, 2019 TOKYO—Japan’s largest utility is looking to foreign blue-collar workers to help decommission its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant amid a labor shortage exacerbated by radiation risks at the site of the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., or Tepco, said Thursday it has informed dozens of contractors that foreigners could qualify for a new type of visa that allows manual workers to stay in the country for five years. Workers who enter areas with elevated radiation would need sufficient Japanese-language skills...(subscribers only) https://www.wsj.com/articles/japan-aims-to-hire-foreigners-for-nuclear-clean-up-11555595613

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Nuclear plant operators must pay price for missing deadline

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Japan’s massive task to clean up nuclear fuel pools of Fukushima stricken reactors

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Japan’s plutonium surplus, its history, and its danger

Ed. Note: Many in Japan are now seeing this info for the first time since their PRESS has be limited by Abe’s Gov’t which is “in bed” with the Nuclear Industry.   

Japan’s Plutonium Overhang, Wilson Center, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project Jun 7, 2017 By William Burr   Plutonium, a key element of nuclear weapons, has been an issue in U.S.-Japan relations for decades. During the administration of Jimmy Carter, the Japanese government pressed Washington for permission to process spent reactor fuel of U.S. origin so that the resulting plutonium could be used for experiments with fast breeder nuclear reactors. The government of Japan wanted to develop a “plutonium economy,” but U.S. government officials worried about the consequences of building plants to reprocess reactor fuel. According to a memo by National Security Council staffer Gerald Oplinger, published for the first time by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, the “projected plants would more than swamp the projected plutonium needs of all the breeder R&D programs in the world.” That “will produce a vast surplus of pure, weapons grade plutonium … which would constitute a danger in itself.” Indeed, as a result of reprocessing activities since then, Japan possesses 48 tons of plutonium and could be producing more, with no clearly defined use, when a new reprocessing facility goes on line in 2018………

    • The risk of nuclear of proliferation was a significant element in Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign, which raised questions about the hazards of nuclear energy and attacked the Ford administration for ignoring the “deadly threat posed by plutonium in the hands of terrorists.” Not long after his inauguration, Carter signed

Presidential Directive 8,-which declared that “U.S. non-proliferation policy shall be directed at preventing the development and use of sensitive nuclear power technologies which involve direct access to plutonium, highly enriched uranium, or other weapons useable material in non-nuclear weapons states, and at minimizing the global accumulation of these materials.”

Consistent with this, Carter called for an indefinite deferral of commercial reprocessing and the recycle of plutonium in the U.S. and restructuring U.S. breeder reactor programs to develop “alternative designs to the plutonium breeder.” He also directed U.S. nuclear R&D spending to focus on the “development of alternative nuclear fuel cycles which do not involve access to weapons useable materials.” …….
Since the 1988 agreement Japan’s nuclear plans have gone awry. The Fukushima disaster raised questions about nuclear energy as a power source while the Monju fast breeder reactor turned out to be a tremendously expensive boondoggle, which the Japanese government decided to decommission in late 2016 (during more than 20 years it operated only 250 days). The government remains interested in developing plutonium-fueled fast reactors but that is a remote prospect. Plans to use plutonium in a mixed oxide (MOX) reactor fuel have come to naught. At present, therefore, Japan has no clearly defined use for the 48 tons of separated plutonium that it owns, some 11 tons of which are on Japanese territory.
The surpluses, which emerged as anticipated, continue to worry arms control experts, including some, such as Robert Gallucci, who were involved in the 1980 debate. Terrorists would need only a few kilograms of plutonium for a weapon with mass destruction potential.   In the meantime, the Rokkasho reprocessing facility is scheduled to go on-line in 2018. The industrial scale facility is slated to separate 8 tons of plutonium maximum annually, although Japan has no specific plans for using most of it. 2018 is the same year that the 1988 U.S.-Japan agreement is slated to expire, although whether the Trump administration has any interest in renegotiating it remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the South Korean government, which cannot reprocess, under existing agreements with Washington, asks why it cannot do what Japan has been doing.

When NSC staffer Gerald Oplinger wrote that the plutonium surplus would constitute a “danger in itself,” he probably assumed an environmental hazard and possibly a proliferation risk and vulnerability to terrorism. He did not mention the latter risks, although the reference to surpluses of “weapons grade” material evoked such concerns. While Japanese reprocessing plants would be producing reactor-grade plutonium, it nevertheless has significant weapons potential.  On the question of Japan’s nuclear intentions, the documents from this period that have been seen by the editor are silent; it is not clear whether U.S. officials wondered whether elements of the government of Japan had a weapons option in the back of their mind. Any such U.S. speculation, however, would have had to take into account strong Japanese anti-nuclear sentiment, rooted in terrible historical experience, Japan’s membership in good standing in the nonproliferation community, and that since the days of Prime Minister Sato, the “three Nos” has been official national policy: no possession, no manufacture, and no allowing nuclear weapons on Japanese territory.  According to a 1974 national intelligence estimate, Japan was keeping “open” the possibility of a nuclear weapons capability and had the resources to produce weapons in a few years, but the intelligence agencies were divided over the likelihood of such a development. The CIA, State Department intelligence, and Army intelligence saw such a course of action as highly unlikely without a collapse of U.S. security guarantee and the emergence of a significant threat to Japan’s security.

Sources for this posting include State Department FOIA releases as well as recently declassified records at the National Archives, including the records of Gerard C. Smith and Secretary of State Edmund Muskie. Many documents on Japan from the Smith files are awaiting declassification review.

Documents in this release:…..https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/japans-plutonium-overhang

April 18, 2019 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan | Leave a comment

50 countries ban Japanese seafoods from Fukushima region, South Korea will maintain the ban

Seoul Welcomes WTO’s Ruling on Fukushima Seafood Ban  by Korea Bizwire  SEOUL, Apr. 12 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea on Friday welcomed the World Trade Organization’s decision to rule in favor of Seoul’s import restrictions on Japanese seafood in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and said it would keep the ban in place going forward.The WTO appellate body overturned several points of the 2018 verdict earlier in the day, saying the Seoul government’s measures are not unfair trade restrictions and do not fall into the category of arbitrary discrimination.

The appellate body, however, sided with Japan on one point, saying that Seoul has not provided enough information to Tokyo in terms of the import ban measures.

“The government has been making all-out efforts to follow the principle of making the health and safety of the people a priority, and the government highly appraises the WTO’s decision,” the Ministry of Trade, Investment and Energy said in a statement.

The South Korean government said it hopes that there would be no further trade dispute with Japan.

In 2015, Japan officially lodged a complaint at the WTO to challenge South Korea’s import bans and additional testing requirements on fish caught after 2013. Tokyo argued that radioactive levels of its fishery product were lower than those from a number of other nations.

The WTO’s dispute settlement body ruled in favor of Japan in February 2018.

South Korea has been placing import restrictions on 28 kinds of fish caught from eight prefectures near Fukushima since the nuclear power plant accident.

The South Korean government said it will keep the existing import ban on all seafood from the eight prefectures. All Japanese seafood companies will be required to hand in safety certificates when any traces of radiation are found, it added.

About 50 countries have maintained bans on imports since the nuclear disaster, but Japan has complained to the WTO about only one country — South Korea.

“Currently, 19 more countries have implemented an import ban (on Japanese seafood) at different levels,” said Yoon Chang-yul, the head of the social policy coordination office under the Office for Government Policy Coordination……..http://koreabizwire.com/seoul-welcomes-wtos-ruling-on-fukushima-seafood-ban/135802

April 13, 2019 Posted by | environment, Japan, South Korea | Leave a comment

World Trade Organization approves South Korea’s right to ban Fukushima seafoods

SOUTH KOREA WTO APPEAL SUCCEEDS IN JAPANESE FUKUSHIMA FOOD DISPUTE, https://www.agriculture.com/markets/newswire/update-2-south-korea-wto-appeal-succeeds-in-japanese-fukushima-food-dispute GENEVA, April 11 (Reuters) – South Korea won the bulk of its appeal on Thursday in a dispute at the World Trade Organization over import bans and testing requirements it had imposed on Japanese seafood in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Last year a WTO dispute panel supported Japan, saying South Korea was wrong to keep its initial trade restrictions in place. But Thursday’s ruling overturned several key points of that verdict, saying South Korea’s measures were not overly restrictive and did not unfairly discriminate against Japan.

The appeal looked solely at the panel’s interpretation of the WTO rules, without going into the facts about the levels of contaminants in Japanese food products or what the right level of consumer protection should be.

“The South Korean government highly appreciates the WTO’s ruling and welcomes the decision,” South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a statement.

Following the ruling, South Korea’s current trade restrictions on Japanese seafood will stay in place, the ministry statement added.

South Korea widened its initial ban on Japanese fishery imports in 2013 to cover all seafood from eight Japanese prefectures including Fukushima.

Japan launched its trade complaint at the WTO in 2015, arguing that radioactive levels were safe and that a number of other nations, including the United States and Australia, had lifted or eased Fukushima-related restrictions.

South Korea imported 10.9 billion yen ($102 million) worth of Japanese seafood in the year to August 2013 before it broadened its restrictions. Those imports then fell to 8.4 billion yen the following year, according to the Japanese government. (Reporting by Tom Miles; additional reporting by Jane Chung in SEOUL; Editing by Keith Weir and Hugh Lawson)

April 13, 2019 Posted by | environment, Japan, Legal | Leave a comment