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Japan’s nuclear fuel imports almost zero in 2019 as industry stagnates, 1st time in 50 yrs

np_file_30122-870x497Japan’s imports of nuclear fuel were nearly zero last year, as many reactors remain idle or are slated to be decommissioned.


August 12, 2020

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s imports of fuel to power nuclear plants were close to zero last year, reflecting the stagnating nuclear industry following the Fukushima accident in 2011, official trade data showed Tuesday.

The effective halt in Japan’s imports of enriched and natural uranium or their assemblies is believed to be the first since the resource-poor country started securing the materials from overseas in the 1960s.

Most nuclear plants in Japan remain idle as stricter safety measures were implemented after a massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. The operations of fuel manufacturing plants have also been suspended.

Japan’s imports of the fuel started around the time the country’s first commercial nuclear power station in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, achieved criticality in 1965.

The value of the three materials reached a record 280.4 billion yen ($2.64 billion) in 1984 as nuclear power plants increased, according to the government data.

In subsequent years, the value was around 100 billion yen to 150 billion yen before the level fell to 82.7 billion yen in 2012, one year after the Fukushima disaster.

In 2016, the value decreased further to 2.9 billion yen as more nuclear power plants were halted. Due to the resumptions of some nuclear plants, it recovered to nearly 50 billion yen in 2017 and 2018. But, it fell to 45 million yen in 2019, with small amounts likely imported for research purposes.

Comparable statistics for such materials are available from 1972.

Of the 54 nuclear reactors that were in operation before the Fukushima crisis, currently, only nine have come back online after clearing harsher safety measures.

In the wake of the accident, 21 reactors have been flagged for decommissioning in consideration of the hefty costs for refurbishments.

All four fuel manufacturing factories are offline as they are undergoing regulatory review under the new safety standards.

Kansai Electric Power Co., Shikoku Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co., which operate the nine plants currently back online, said they have enough fuel to run their reactors for the next several years.

Despite the slumping nuclear industry in Japan, the government has set a target for nuclear power generation to account for 20 to 22 percent of the country’s electricity supply by 2030, which requires resuming operations of 20 to 30 reactors.

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

‘Forgery’ suit filed against minister

TRUTHFUL? The Green Consumers’ Foundation claims that a Ministry of Health and Welfare report on Japanese food imports contains false and inaccurate information


Green Consumers’ Foundation chairman Jay Fang, right, presses the doorbell of the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday to file a lawsuit against Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien following the release of a ministry report on food imports from Japan.

Green Consumers’ Foundation chairman Jay Fang (方儉) yesterday filed a lawsuit against Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien (林奏延) at the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office accusing the minister of “forgery,” claiming that the ministry’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used false data in its report on easing restrictions on Japanese food imports from the five prefectures closest to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which suffered a meltdown in March 2011.

Fang said that the government’s report provided at the weekend at public hearings on lifting the ban on imports of Japanese food items from the five prefectures contained false data that could mislead the public.

He said the report claims that “only China and Taiwan still impose a total ban on food imports from the five prefectures closest to Fukushima [Dai-ichi],” but the US FDA had issued an alert last month stating that the coast guard “may detain, without physical examination,” certain specified products from firms in 14 prefectures near Fukushima Dai-ichi.

The report also claims that “the standard [for acceptable radiation levels in food] in Taiwan is the same as other nations,” but Taiwan has looser standards than many nations, he added.

He said the government in January established 100 becquerel per kilogram (Bq/kg) as the standard radiation limit for food, but another 100Bq/kg was set as the standard radiation limit for iodine-131, meaning the total limit is 200Bq/kg.

Is the Ministry of Health and Welfare protecting the public’s health or is it protecting radiation-contaminated food and feeding it to us?” Fan asked, urging the government to provide truthful data to the public.

In response, FDA Deputy Director Lin Ching-fu (林金富) said the ministry regrets that Fan has misread its data and that the ministry had not forged any data, adding that Fan, having filed a lawsuit, should be held to the equivalent legal liability.

FDA Division of Food Safety official Cheng Wei-chih (鄭維智) said safety standard for general food items is 100Bq/kg for “iodine-131” and 100Bq/kg for “cesium-134 and cesium-137,” and that the radioisotopes are examined separately.

November 16, 2016 Posted by | Taiwan | , , | Leave a comment