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Many errors in TEPCO’s nuclear power plant examination documents at Kashiwazaki Kariwa Unit 3

January 19, 2023
On January 19, TEPCO Holdings revealed that 149 errors were found in the examination documents for the Kashiwazaki Kariwa Unit 3 nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, which is under review by the Nuclear Regulation Authority before its 30th year of operation. 131 of the errors were made using information from Unit 2, which has already been examined.

TEPCO apologized at the review meeting on the same day, saying, “We should reflect on this. The Regulatory Commission said, “This is a matter that concerns the reliability of the documents, and we hope you will take it seriously,” and demanded that a recurrence of the problem be prevented.

According to TEPCO, because they did not know the names of the materials required for the documents, they used those of the Unit 2 reactor of the same type. The same document contained an error due to a programming error, which was discovered when the company checked for similar errors.

Kashiwazaki Kariwa Unit 3, which began operation in August 1993, is currently shut down and has not yet applied for an inspection to restart operations. Nuclear power plants are required to undergo an examination to check the management of their facilities before they reach 30 years of operation. Kyodo News


February 3, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Kashiwazaki Kariwa, a Distant Recovery of Confidence TEPCO Shares Crisis Awareness to Prevent Misconduct

Deputy General Manager Daito explains the operating floor. Before entering the building, biometric authentication and other enhancements were in place.

December 19, 2022
A series of scandals, including flaws in anti-terrorism measures, at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant (Niigata Prefecture), which Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) aims to restart, has called into question TEPCO’s efforts to restore trust. If distrust grows, it could affect the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which caused the accident. As an operator involved in nuclear power generation, TEPCO is required to improve its internal structure to prevent misconduct, such as by ensuring that each and every employee shares a sense of crisis.

 Crisis awareness “is a weak point

 In October, the Local Newspaper Energy Study Group, a group of local newspapers in areas where nuclear facilities are located, visited the Kashiwazaki Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant to observe the status of remedial measures being taken. Masaki Daito, 56, deputy director of the Kashiwazaki Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, admitted to a lack of awareness of the crisis, saying, “There were parts of the situation that we should have been aware of, but we were naive in our understanding of the situation.

 In September 2008, an employee of the plant took a colleague’s ID card without permission and entered the central control room illegally, and in April 2009, the Nuclear Regulation Authority issued an order prohibiting the transfer of nuclear fuel. In April 2009, the Regulatory Commission issued a de facto operation ban order prohibiting the transfer of nuclear fuel. The restart of the plant has been put on hold, and TEPCO officials stress that they will work to restore trust in the plant, saying, “Without the understanding of the local community, we will not be able to restart the plant.

 Improvement Measures, Starting with Greetings

 In response to the series of scandals, TEPCO is working on 36 improvement measures related to the protection of nuclear materials. A Security Management Department has been established within the power plant, the personnel structure has been reviewed, and the budget for equipment has been expanded from 20 billion yen to 58 billion yen. During the inspection tour, the monitoring system was strengthened, with biometric authentication required to enter the “operating floor,” the upper level of the Unit 6 reactor.

 TEPCO believes that a lack of communication with employees and workers at partner companies is behind the scandals. The company explained that as a measure to improve the situation, executives and others are standing at the main gate in the morning and making efforts to conduct a “greeting campaign,” but an unusual situation comes to mind in which a review of the basics is unavoidable.

 Response is backward and “lousy.

 How did the local administration, business community, and residents react to the scandal? The study group interviewed Masahiro Sakurai, 60, mayor of Kashiwazaki City, and Masao Nishikawa, 66, chairman of the Kashiwazaki Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Both are in favor of restarting the nuclear reactors, but they are also very critical of TEPCO in light of the scandals.

 In a word, they are lousy. Mayor Sakurai laments TEPCO’s backward steps, such as strengthening biometric authentication after the scandal. While he praises TEPCO’s measures to deal with the scandal, saying that “they are making efforts,” he also points out that a sense of tension and crisis awareness has not penetrated the company’s ranks. Chairman Nishikawa also stated that “the relationship of trust has broken down,” and revealed that he had submitted a letter of request to TEPCO to protest the situation.

 Kazuyuki Takemoto, 72, a resident of Kariwa Village who has been campaigning against the plant, questioned the government’s nuclear fuel cycle policy, including the disposal of spent nuclear fuel, saying, “The government is desperately trying to get the plant restarted, but can it really be moved? TEPCO wants to move forward with the restart, but it must not forget the lessons of the nuclear accident. In the visitor’s house at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, there is a panel that reads, “Our responsibility for the recovery of Fukushima. How will they face these words and show them through their actions? The public is watching closely. (News Department, Satoshi Mizuno)

January 3, 2023 Posted by | Japan | | 1 Comment

TEPCO to Decide on Price Hike Based on Resumption of Nuclear Power Plant Operations, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Unit 7, for Businesses from FY2023

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co.

September 16, 2022
 On September 16, Tomoaki Kobayakawa, president of TEPCO Holdings, announced that the company is considering raising electricity rates for businesses on the assumption that the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Unit 7 nuclear power plant (in Niigata Prefecture) will be restarted in fiscal 2023. President Tomoaki Kobayakawa of TEPCO Holdings announced on September 16 that the company plans to calculate the range of the price increase based on the assumption that the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Unit 7 nuclear power plant (Niigata Prefecture) will be restarted in 2023. The company aims to reduce the burden on contracted companies by about 200 billion yen. He also explained, “We aim to resume operations as soon as possible, but we have no concrete timetable for this.
 The target is the “high-voltage” and “special high-voltage” rate plans used by commercial facilities and factories, with approximately 170,000 contracts. The company plans to raise the rates so that the market price of electricity can be reflected in the rates. At the same time, a system will be introduced to calculate the cost of nuclear power plants, which have lower generation costs, on the assumption that they will operate for nine months a year, thereby curbing the size of the price increase.
 At the press conference, President Kobayakawa explained, “We are not specifying the timing of the restart. Even if we are not able to restart operations, we will curb the price increase. Although this will cause TEPCO’s bottom line to deteriorate, he said, “We will make efforts to reduce (costs). (Kyodo)

September 26, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

10 years after nationalization, Tepco still faces mounting challenges

Reactors 6 and 7 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture

July 31, 2022

Sunday marked the 10th anniversary since Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. was effectively nationalized after the devastating triple-meltdown nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Tepco has struggled to rebuild its business while attempting to restore its reputation and compensate for its role in the disaster that immediately followed the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011. However, more competition, a string of scandals and other problems have prevented the restart of its nuclear power plants — a key to rebuilding the company — resulting in sluggish performance.

Recently, the soaring cost of oil due to the Russia-Ukraine war has taken its toll, further exacerbating uncertainties in its restructuring roadmap.

In 2012, the Japanese government placed Tepco under its control by injecting about ¥1 trillion into the firm through the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund to prevent the utility from bankruptcy and facilitate compensation efforts.

The total cost of the nuclear accident, which includes compensation, decommissioning and decontamination, is expected to be around ¥21.5 trillion ($161.3 billion), of which ¥15.9 trillion will be paid by Tepco.

Tepco, which shifted to a holding company structure in 2016 to improve management efficiency, announced a reconstruction plan in 2021 and aims to secure ¥500 billion annually for compensation and decommissioning costs. It also targets annual profits of around ¥450 billion after fiscal 2030.

But for fiscal 2021, the utility’s net profit plunged to ¥5.6 billion from ¥180.8 billion the previous year, as it saw a drop in electricity sales due to intensified competition and was hit by higher fuel costs from liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal.

In September, the fuel cost adjustment system, which allows higher fuel costs to be added to rates, will reach its limit, putting further pressure on the company’s operations. Tepco has not disclosed its outlook for this fiscal year.

Its major hope is to restart reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, as firing up one reactor is expected to improve earnings by about ¥50 billion. Yet the plant has been hit by a series of scandals, including inadequate anti-terrorism measures. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority, Japan’s nuclear watchdog, has issued a de facto ban on the plant’s operation.

Although Tomoaki Kobayakawa, Tepco president and CEO, claims that “we are working on nuclear reform with the restoration of trust from the community and society as our top priority,” restarting the plant will not be easy.

The stock price is also an obstacle to denationalization. The government hopes to cover the ¥4 trillion cost of decontamination efforts with the proceeds from the sale of Tepco shares. However, the closing share price on Friday was ¥523, far from the ¥1,500 needed to secure the cost.

As its attempt to reconstruct the firm has not proceeded as expected, Tecpo has repeatedly postponed its decision to denationalize.

A government official said that Tepco “was allowed to continue to exist by fulfilling its responsibility to Fukushima, in order to make steady progress in dealing with the accident.”

To steadily continue taking care of tasks related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Tepco will need to improve its business performance through strengthening its retail business by enhancing its services. The utility is also aiming to increase its corporate value by focusing on renewable energy.

August 4, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Niigata prefectural government distributes iodine tablets to residents living within 30 km of nuclear power plant in advance and calls for pickup

May 14, 2022
Niigata Prefecture has decided to distribute in advance stable iodine tablets, which suppress internal exposure to the thyroid gland in the event of an accident at a nuclear power plant, to residents within 30 km of the plant in addition to those within 5 km of the plant. Niigata Prefecture has decided to distribute the drug in advance to residents within 30 km of the plant, in addition to those within 5 km of the plant, and is calling for their receipt.

According to the national guidelines in preparation for a serious accident at the nuclear power plant, “stable iodine tablets,” which suppress exposure to the thyroid gland, are to be distributed in advance to residents within a 5-kilometer radius of the plant, while those within a 30-kilometer radius are, in principle, to be distributed upon evacuation. The government, however, allows local governments to distribute iodine tablets in advance if they anticipate difficulties.
The prefectural government has decided to distribute the kits in advance, taking into consideration the recent string of heavy snowfalls and other factors that may prevent smooth distribution at the time of evacuation.
The distribution is targeted at people under 40 years of age and pregnant women, and will be offered to those over 40 years of age who wish to receive one.
The prefectural government plans to distribute the kits to residents of Kashiwazaki City first, and then to residents of other municipalities in turn.
The Prefectural Government’s Infectious Disease Control and Pharmaceutical Affairs Division is asking those who are eligible to receive the iodine stabilizers to carefully read the information they receive from the prefecture and receive them in advance in case of an emergency.

May 29, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan Says It Needs Nuclear Power. Can Host Towns Ever Trust It Again?

The Ukraine war has shown the fragility of Japan’s energy supplies. But the decision to restart plants after the Fukushima disaster is fraught with emotions and political calculation.

May 4, 2022

KASHIWAZAKI, Japan — Growing up, Mika Kasahara saw the nuclear power plant that hugs the coast of her hometown simply as the place where her father worked, a familiar fortress of cooling tanks and steel lightning towers overlooking the Sea of Japan.

“We thought that as long as nothing bad happened, it’s fine,” Ms. Kasahara, 45, said.

After the disaster 11 years ago at a nuclear power station in Fukushima, where an earthquake and tsunami led to a triple meltdown, Japan took most of its nuclear plants offline. Now, Ms. Kasahara, spooked by security breaches and damaged infrastructure at the power station near her home, wants it shuttered for good.

Ms. Kasahara symbolizes the long road Japan faces as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, confronting threats to fuel supplies posed by the Ukraine war and vowing urgent action to reduce carbon emissions, intensifies efforts to reboot the country’s nuclear power network.

For the first time since the Fukushima catastrophe, a small majority of the Japanese public has expressed support for bringing the plants back online, indicating a growing awareness that the world’s third-largest economy may struggle to keep the lights on as it confronts its own limited resources during a time of geopolitical upheaval.

But the decision to restart the plants is fraught with emotions and political calculation, not to mention the gargantuan technical task of fortifying the stations against future disasters in an earthquake-prone nation.

In Kashiwazaki, a midsize suburban city, and neighboring Kariwa, a small village, which together host the seven-reactor plant — the world’s largest — in Niigata Prefecture in northwestern Japan, the fate of the nation’s idled power plants is deeply personal.

Mika Kasahara and her family walking their dog in Kashiwazaki. She wants the plant shuttered for good.
A family photo with Ms. Kasahara’s father, top right. When he died of cancer three years ago, she wondered if his two decades working at the plant had been a factor.

When Ms. Kasahara’s father died of esophagus and lung cancer three years ago, she wondered if his two decades inside the plant had been a factor. A traffic jam during an evacuation drill left her fearing that she and her family would be trapped by a nuclear accident.

“I was honestly very afraid,” she said.

Business leaders and workers whose livelihoods depend on the plant warn that if it does not come back online, the area will deteriorate, like many rural Japanese communities that are experiencing steep population decline. Currently about 5,500 people are working to maintain the idled plant, although employment would be likely to grow if it reopened.

Many local residents work in the plant or know friends and family who do. “I think that there are more people who understand the necessity of the plant,” said Masaaki Komuro, chief executive of Niigata Kankyo Service, a maintenance contractor at the facility.

Public polling presents a muddier picture. According to a 2020 survey by the city of Kashiwazaki, close to 20 percent of residents want to decommission the plant immediately. About 40 percent would accept the temporary operation of some reactors, but ultimately want the plant shut down. Just over half of prefectural residents oppose a nuclear restart, according to a 2021 survey by Niigata Nippo, a local newspaper.

The public wariness will be tested in an election for governor this month in Niigata Prefecture. The current governor, Hideyo Hanazumi, 63, is backed by the governing Liberal Democrats but has remained vague about his restart intentions. His challenger, Naomi Katagiri, a 72-year-old architect, promises to block the resumption of operations in Kashiwazaki and Kariwa.

The stakes are high because an unwritten government policy requires local political leaders to ratify nuclear reboots. Kariwa’s mayor, Hiroo Shinada, 65, is a vociferous proponent, while the mayor of Kashiwazaki, Masahiro Sakurai, 60, is investing in wind power but would support the temporary operation of some reactors.

A mother-baby class at a children’s play center in Kashiwazaki that is funded by central government subsidies for nuclear host towns
A sports and recreation center in Kariwa, a village of 4,400 people, funded by government subsidies.

“Japan is not like Communist China that can impose a project” on communities, said Daisaku Yamamoto, an associate professor of Asian studies at Colgate University and a native of Kashiwazaki. While the national government influences local decisions, host communities “are not powerless either,” he said.

Local opposition isn’t the only obstacle to restarting nuclear power stations. All plants must adhere to strict new guidelines adopted by Japan’s nuclear regulator two years after the Fukushima disaster. Operators are required to bolster tsunami defenses, build backup cooling pools and install filtered vents that would reduce radioactive discharges.

Out of 60 reactors in Japan, 24 have been decommissioned and five are currently operating. Another five have been approved to restart but are suspended for routine checkups, and three are under construction. The rest have not been approved to restart.

Nuclear power now contributes less than 4 percent of the nation’s electricity, down from nearly a third before the Fukushima disaster. Japan currently draws more than three-quarters of its electricity from fossil fuels, and about 18 percent from renewable sources.

Since 2014, the Liberal Democrats have said nuclear plants should generate more than 20 percent of Japan’s electricity by 2030. The war in Ukraine and the threat of a blackout in Tokyo after a strong earthquake this spring have made the public more receptive to this message.

In a March poll by the Nikkei business newspaper, 53 percent supported a restart of the plants. As recently as four years ago, more than 60 percent of the Japanese public opposed rebooting nuclear power.

In hopes of accelerating regulatory approvals, some Liberal Democratic lawmakers have submitted a proposal to loosen requirements for physical barriers to terrorism at plants.

Shutters at the Kariwa village hall, meant to create a pressure-resistant facility during a nuclear crisis.
A former plant worker, Motonori Nishikata, runs a restaurant in Kashiwazaki. He wants the plant to restart, and thinks concerns about safety have been overblown by antinuclear activists.

“The people who say that they are afraid of war or terrorism attacks against nuclear plants are probably the type of people who would oppose the restarts no matter what,” said Tsuyoshi Takagi, secretary-general of the Liberal Democrats’ task force on energy stability.

In Kashiwazaki and Kariwa, the national regulator has suspended approvals, citing concerns about the safety culture at the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant’s operator.

Last year, Tokyo Electric revealed that a plant worker had used a colleague’s security card and bypassed biometric systems in 2020, gaining entrance to a control room. The company admitted flawed welding work and a failure to install fire prevention machinery in a reactor. It reported that an earthquake in 2007 had damaged two concrete pegs in a building foundation, and the regulator found a risk of liquefaction in the ground beneath a sea wall protecting reactors.

Officials at Tokyo Electric say they are addressing the issues. The company has spent about $9 billion reinforcing the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

The setbacks have raised doubts among residents about the competence of the company, which also operated the Fukushima plant where the meltdowns occurred 11 years ago.

“I only feel distrust,” Miyuki Igarashi, 33, said as she loaded her 6-month-old daughter into an S.U.V. at a strip mall in Kashiwazaki. “I think they are hiding things.”

Some local residents say the problems have been overblown by antinuclear activists.

“People who oppose the restarts keep pointing out things that are wrong, and there is no end to it,” said Motonori Nishikata, 44, who worked at the plant for seven years before opening a grilled beef restaurant in Kashiwazaki.

Yoshimi Takakuwa and Chie Takakuwa at a campaign event for Naomi Katagiri, a candidate for governor who promises to block the restart of the power plant.
Junko Isogai, who left Fukushima Prefecture after the nuclear disaster there, opposes a restart at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

The community is already preparing for an eventual restart, in part by readying for a possible accident. Public shelters have installed filters to keep out radioactive contaminants. Pharmacists stock iodine pills, meant to block the most harmful effects of radiation.

Those who lived through the 2011 Fukushima crisis say the risk is not worth it.

Junko Isogai, 48, was raising two young daughters with her husband in Koriyama, a city in Fukushima Prefecture, when the meltdowns occurred 42 miles away.

Worried about their daughters’ health, the couple decided that she and the girls should move to Niigata, although her husband stayed behind for the next five years, working to pay the mortgage on a house they had built just before the disaster.

In Niigata, her elder daughter, Suzu, was bullied at school, called “dirty” by a classmate because of her Fukushima roots.

Three years ago, Ms. Isogai ran for a seat in the prefectural assembly, opposing a restart at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. She lost but plans to run again next April.

“I don’t want anyone else to be in the situation that I was put in,” she said.

A faded anti-restart poster on the door of a shed in Kariwa.

May 9, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO net profit slides 96.9%; cost for Fukushima well out of reach

Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., attends an April 28 news conference where the company’s financial results were announced

April 29, 2022

Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s dismal financial results have compounded the difficulties facing the company in compensating victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and covering the cleanup and decommissioning costs.

The parent company, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., on April 28 announced that net profit for the fiscal year that ended in March plummeted by 96.9 percent over the previous year to 5.6 billion yen ($43 million).

“With fuel prices continuing to surge, the business environment surrounding our company is not a very optimistic one,” Tomoaki Kobayakawa, the company president, said at the news conference to announce the business results.

He said the company would begin work to revise its corporate structure, including reorganizing group companies and heightening cooperative efforts with other companies.

Despite the dwindling profits, TEPCO must still carry out various tasks to clean up the mess made by the 2011 triple meltdown at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

In 2016, the government calculated that the total cost of compensating people displaced by the disaster, decommissioning reactors at the plant and conducting radiation decontamination work would come to a staggering 21.5 trillion yen.

TEPCO is expected to contribute about 16 trillion yen of that total.

About 10 trillion yen has already been spent for compensation and to remove radiation. Much of that total has been paid for by the government on condition that TEPCO reimburses it later.

Under the plan to rebuild TEPCO, the utility must also set aside about 500 billion yen a year to pay for decommissioning work.

But the last time TEPCO was able to reach that monetary goal was in fiscal 2017. For the past three years, it has only managed to set aside about 300 billion yen annually.

The company had also set a goal of 450 billion yen in net profit by 2030.

But as Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, the company chairman, admitted, “If nothing is done, profits will increasingly shrink and we will be unable to fulfill our responsibility regarding Fukushima.”

Retail sales of electric power used to be TEPCO’s strong point. But as of the end of 2021, newly created electric power companies accounted for 30.4 percent of the electricity sold in the area normally covered by TEPCO.

That is the largest ratio of any of the major electric power companies in Japan.

As a result, TEPCO Energy Partner Inc., which handles retail sales, recorded a loss of 66.4 billion yen for the fiscal year that ended in March.

TEPCO has also failed to capitalize on renewable energy, which had been considered a growth sector.

The government in December 2021 picked a group led by trading company Mitsubishi Corp. instead of TEPCO to handle offshore wind power facilities in Chiba and Akita prefectures.

And there is no sign of when TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture can resume operations.

May 9, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan PM’s nuclear push faces resistance ahead of election

Oct 28, 2021

KASHIWAZAKI, Japan – A decade after triple meltdowns at Fukushima forced mass evacuations and a shut-down of the nuclear industry, Japan has restarted only a third of its 33 operable reactors

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s push to restart Japanese nuclear power plants idled after the Fukushima disaster faces stiff opposition ahead of a
general election on Sunday, October 31, where his future as leader hangs in
the balance if the vote is tight.

A decade after triple meltdowns at Fukushima forced mass evacuations and a shut-down of the nuclear industry, Japan has restarted only a third of its 33 operable reactors.

Debate over whether to fire more of them back up is highly charged, with 40% of the population opposing the move.

It matters most in rural cities hosting the idled plants which had once relied on them for economic activity, such as Kashiwazaki, 265 km (165 miles) northwest of Tokyo – home to the world’s largest atomic power complex.

“The reason why we feel so strongly about this is because we feel the danger of the nuclear power plant – it hangs over our heads every day,” said Mie Kuwabara, a resident of a town close to Kashiwazaki and anti-nuclear activist.

Voters mostly care about economic recovery from the pandemic. But energy policy came into sharp focus last month, when Kishida beat a popular anti-nuclear candidate in the race for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) chief.

The architect of Kishida’s victory, party veteran Akira Amari, assumed a key party post and immediately pushed for restarts of 30 reactors while also promoting new, smaller reactors to replace aging ones.

Amari says Japan must revert to nuclear power to meet its 2050 carbon neutrality pledge, avoid rapidly rising prices of imported coal and gas and to cut its reliance on other countries for energy needs.

Amari faces a tight race in his home district, where he is struggling to attract support from anti-nuclear junior coalition partner, Komeito.

Opposition to his plan is strong in Kashiwazaki too.

“This prefecture as a whole, even within the LDP, is united behind the idea that the nuclear power plant can’t be restarted,” said Mineo Ono, who runs the LDP’s local chapter where anti-nuclear proponent Taro Kono polled higher than Kishida in the leadership race vote.

Ono cited local distrust caused by what he called multiple mishaps by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Holdings (Tepco).

The nuclear regulator upended plans for a restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, which can power 24 million households, in April, after identifying operational issues including faulty intruder detection alarms and the misuse of ID cards.

Nation-wide, restarts have been delayed by technical issues, lawsuits and regulatory reviews.

Tepco in an emailed statement apologized and said it would work to regain the trust of locals. It added that while nuclear energy is instrumental in achieving carbon neutrality, the time is not right to discuss restarts.

That poses a problem for the LDP, which polls show is on the brink of losing its simple majority, an outcome that would still let it cling to power thanks to the coalition with Komeito, but that may lead to a push inside the party to oust Kishida.

The government said in its latest energy policy on Friday it would double 2020 levels of renewable energy to 38%, but has maintained nuclear power will provide some 22% of the country’s energy by 2030, up from 6% in the 2018 financial year.

‘Dividing factor’

Kashiwazaki, a town of 80,000, sits on the coast of the Sea of Japan. In the evening, buses unload workers maintaining the complex around the main train station.

“We host the world’s biggest nuclear plant, but that energy goes mostly to Tokyo and its surrounding regions. Locals feel deeply about that,” LDP’s Ono said. There is a ‘divide’ between the sentiment of the locals and people in Tokyo, he said.

A restart is critical for Tepco, which needs money to fund the clean-up at its Fukushima plant. Restarting two reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa would save an estimated $880 million per year in fuel costs, it says.

But even the local chamber of commerce, instrumental in wooing the plant which started operations in 1985, says it is tired of what it sees as Tepco’s repeated failures.

“It’s almost unbearable, seeing how shoddy they are,” said chamber of commerce chief Masao Saikawa.

To allay these fears, Kenichi Hosoda, the LDP candidate in the district who serves as the vice minister at the Ministry of Industry overseeing energy policy, has toned down his pro-nuclear message.

“Now is not the time to discuss the issue,” he told Reuters after a recent rally held near the plant.

In response to a question on why discussions on the nuclear plant have been toned down before the vote, local LDP leader Ono spoke of “a large group of swing voters who the candidates have to capture.”

“When it comes down to it, the issue of nuclear energy will be the dividing factor. It’s a fact that the nuclear element has an influence,” said Ono. –

October 30, 2021 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO bungles placement of 100 fire detectors at nuclear plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture in March

September 20, 2021

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has continued its bumbling ways concerning safety measures, misplacing dozens of fire detectors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture, sources said.

TEPCO is seeking to restart the No. 7 reactor at the sprawling nuclear plant, but the utility has run into a host of problems following stricter safety standards implemented after the 2011 disaster at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

In the latest incident, about 100 fire detectors were not placed in locations set under safety regulations, the sources said.

The misplacements could delay the detection of heat and smoke from a fire, hampering an immediate response to such a potentially disastrous event.

Under the new safety regulations, nuclear plant operators are required to place a fire detector at least 1.5 meters from an air conditioner vent or other opening. That rule is based on the fire protection law.

Inspectors from the government’s Nuclear Regulation Authority in February noticed that a smoke detector was placed only about 1 meter from the ventilating opening in the storage battery room of the No. 7 reactor building.

TEPCO said it has since moved the detector to the proper location and confirmed through visual checks that the other fire detectors were installed in the right places.

But an additional NRA inspection in April found that two other fire detectors were misplaced.

Following that finding, TEPCO undertook a fresh check of about 2,000 detectors throughout the nuclear plant.

The company reported to the nuclear watchdog on Sept. 16 that more cases of misplaced detectors were confirmed, bringing the total to about 100, according to the sources.

With seven reactors, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant is among the largest in the world in terms of capacity. It is also the only nuclear facility that TEPCO can restart since the company decided to decommission both the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants.

TEPCO is eager to put the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant back online because burning fossil fuel at its thermal plants has proved costly.

But the NRA in April ordered the company to stop preparations toward a restart following revelations of a number of safety flaws.

In January, the company announced the completion of work to bolster safeguarding of the No. 7 reactor, which has an output of 1.35 gigawatts.

However, fire-prevention work was not finished at many locations of the nuclear plant.

News outlets also reported in January that an employee of the plant entered the central control room of a reactor by using the ID of another employee in September last year, a serious breach of the NRA’s anti-terrorism measures.

In addition, it was found that security devices designed to detect unauthorized entry had not been working properly at 15 sites at the plant since March last year.

TEPCO left most of these devices unfixed for about a month.

The company is expected to submit a report to the NRA on how to prevent a recurrence by Sept. 23.

September 20, 2021 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO’s fitness to operate nuke reactors still open to question

From left, the No. 5 to No. 7 reactors of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture

September 24, 2020

The Nuclear Regulation Authority has effectively endorsed Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s fitness to operate nuclear reactors in its safety screening of the utility’s plans to restart the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture.

The nuclear watchdog’s endorsement, based on new legally binding safety rules the utility drafted and pledged to follow, has opened the door for the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to start running reactors again.

But TEPCO’s actions concerning safety, the decommissioning of the destroyed Fukushima reactors and compensation for victims of the catastrophic accident have created a deep sense of distrust that is hard to brush off. The NRA’s decision is open to question.

Three years ago, when it cleared the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors under the tougher new reactor safety standards established in response to the Fukushima disaster, the NRA placed great importance on TEPCO’s “fitness” to run reactors.

This has led the utility to incorporate seven new principles into its safety code. They include the company’s commitment to carry through the decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and hold its president responsible for reactor safety as well as its pledge not to put economic efficiency before safety.

The safety code is legally binding, with a violation potentially provoking an order to suspend operations.

This time, the NRA has examined TEPCO’s seven commitments and acknowledged that they are specific enough to allow the watchdog to identify and punish any violations.

But the seven principles still contain vague elements. It is difficult not to wonder whether they will effectively enable the NRA to monitor and check TEPCO’s operations for violations.

TEPCO, for example, has promised to follow through with the payment of compensation to victims of the Fukushima calamity. In fact, however, the company has rejected many proposed compensation agreements with local residents.

As for decommissioning the stricken plant, the company has left entirely to the government the vital challenge of disposing of radiation-contaminated water being generated by the plant.

These actions of the firm appear to be at odds with the safety code. What does the NRA think about them?

The real question is whether TEPCO’s basic attitude has really changed.

Asahi Shimbun editorials have questioned the company’s reliability to operate nuclear plants safely because it has failed to demonstrate the safety awareness and commitment required for the operator of a nuclear power plant.

TEPCO, for example, failed to report accurately the fact that an important facility at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant does not have sufficient earthquake resistance.

It also avoided publishing voluntarily the fact that contaminated water from the Fukushima plant contains various radioactive materials whose levels are well above the safety standards after treatment. All these facts raised doubts about the firm’s ethical integrity.

Unless the utility changes its culture and behavior, it will be unable to win local support for its plans to restart the reactors.

TEPCO, as the operator of the Fukushima plant, has the responsibility to put the priority on decommissioning the reactors and paying compensation to people who have suffered from the accident.

It is doubtful whether the company will be able to operate reactors safely while grappling with the colossal challenge of decommissioning the plant, a process that will continue for decades.

There are legitimate concerns that the company could be unable to secure sufficient human and other resources for its efforts to ensure the safety of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

Instead of sticking to its business strategy, which is focused on restoring its financial health by restarting the reactors at the plant in Niigata Prefecture so that it can bear the huge cost of decommissioning and compensation payments, TEPCO should start exploring carving out a viable future without nuclear power generation for itself.

As the utility’s virtual leading shareholder, the government should urge the firm to reconsider its business strategy.

October 1, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Energy authority clears TEPCO to restart Niigata’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant

It is the largest nuclear generating station in the world by net electrical power rating. There are seven units, all lined up along the coast line. Numbering starts at Unit 1 with the south-most unit through Unit 4, then there is a large green space in between Unit 4 and 7, then it continues with Units 6 and 5, the newest of the reactors.

The plant is owned and operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), same company which owns the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant where the nuclear disaster is still ongoing since March 2011.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant is a large, modern (housing the world’s first ABWR) nuclear power plant on a 4.2-square-kilometer (1,000-acre) site including land in the towns of Kashiwazaki and Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture, Japan on the coast of the Sea of Japan, from where it gets cooling water.

It was approximately 19 km (12 mi) from the epicenter of the second-strongest earthquake to occur at a nuclear plant, the Mw 6.6 July 2007 Chūetsu offshore earthquake.

Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear complex in Niigata Prefecture

September 23, 2020

Tokyo Electric Power Co. cleared a major regulatory hurdle toward restarting a nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, but the utility’s bid to resume its operations still hangs in the balance of a series of political approvals.

The government’s nuclear watchdog concluded Sept. 23 that the utility is fit to operate the plant, based on new legally binding safety rules TEPCO drafted and pledged to follow. If TEPCO is found to be in breach of those regulations, it could be ordered to halt the plant’s operations.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority’s green light now shifts the focus over to whether local governments will agree in the coming months to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

TEPCO is keen to get the plant back up and running. It has been financially reeling from the closure of its nuclear plants in Fukushima Prefecture following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in 2011 triggered by the earthquake and tsunami disaster.

The company plans to bring the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors back online at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear complex, which is among the world’s largest nuclear plants.

The two reactors each boast 1.35 gigawatts in output capacity. They are the newest of the seven reactors there, first put into service between 1996 and 1997.

TEPCO has not revealed specific plans yet on what to do with the older five reactors.

In 2017, the NRA cleared the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors under the tougher new reactor regulations established in 2013 in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

It also closely scrutinized the operator’s ability to run the Niigata Prefecture plant safely, given its history as the entity responsible for the nation’s most serious nuclear accident.

After several rounds of meetings with top TEPCO managers, the NRA managed to hold the utility’s feet to the fire enough to make it pledge, in writing, to abide by a new seven-point safety code for the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

The creation of the new code, which is legally binding, is meant to hold the company accountable for safety measures at the facility.

“As the top executive, the president of TEPCO will take responsibility for the safety of nuclear power,” one of the points reads. “TEPCO will not put the facility’s economic performance above its safety,” reads another.

The company promised to abide by the points set out in writing during the NRA’s examination of its safety regulations.

TEPCO also vowed to set up a system where the president is directly briefed on risks to the nuclear complex, including the likelihood of earthquakes more powerful than what the plant is designed to withstand. It must also draft safeguard measures to deal with those kinds of earthquakes and confirm whether precautionary steps are in place.

The utility additionally pledged to promptly release public records on the decision-making process concerning crucial matters related to nuclear safety, and to preserve the documents until the facility is decommissioned.

TEPCO plans to complete its work to reinforce the safety of the No. 7 reactor in December. It has not set a definite deadline for similar work for the No. 6 reactor.

To restart the Kashiwazki-Kariwa plant, TEPCO needs to obtain consent from local governments, including the Niigata prefectural government.

The prefectural government is studying the plant’s safety through a panel of experts, which is reviewing whether evacuation plans are adequate and the health impact on residents from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Niigata Governor Hideyo Hanazumi said he will not decide on the restart until the panel completes its review.

The nuclear complex suffered damage, including from fire at an electric transformer, when an earthquake it deemed able to withstand hit in 2007.

September 24, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Regulator demands TEPCO clarify responsibilities



July 10, 2020

Japan’s nuclear regulator has demanded Tokyo Electric Power Company clarify the responsibilities of its president in the event of a nuclear accident.

Three years ago, the Nuclear Regulation Authority endorsed safety measures at TEPCO’s two nuclear reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture.

The regulator then requested that the company lay out its policies for preventing another nuclear accident in the plant security rulebook. The company had several years earlier been at the heart of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

On Thursday, TEPCO officials told the regulator that they would include a clause stipulating that the president be quickly informed of any risk with the potential to lead to an accident. The clause also stipulates that the president address the issue, regardless of whether the risk has been confirmed or not.

The officials also said records related to such issues would be kept for five years.

But the regulation authority says the storage period should be longer. It also says the responsibilities of the president should be laid out more specifically.

They are also demanding written opinions from law experts on the matter. Tokyo Electric says it will reconsider these measures.

Regulators want TEPCO to be as specific in its safety measures as possible, after the company rejected a report warning of the possible impact of a massive tsunami before the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Tepco and Toshiba join forces to upgrade Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant

KKTepco Holdings Corporation and Toshiba Energy Systems Corporation have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a company to carry out safety upgrade measures at unit 6 of Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.


In December 2017, Tepco received approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to change the installation of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units 6 and 7. It is currently working to obtain approval for the construction plan for unit 7. In parallel with the examination, it is working on preparations for the application for construction plan approval for unit 6.

“Tepco and Toshiba have brought together technologies and knowledge that cross-industry boundaries to jointly establish a company responsible for safety measures for Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station 6,” the companies said. “We aim to establish a new company in mid-June and aim to start a full-scale business in July 2020. Going forward, we will aim to improve safety and quality by maximising the synergistic and complementary effects of the two companies toward the completion of safety measures for the Kashiwazaki Kariwa 6.”

The 1356MWe Kashiwazaki Kariwa 6, a boiling water reactor (BWR), began commercial operation in 1996.

The new company, KK6 Safety Measures Joint Venture Co Ltd, has an investment of JPY 300 million ($2.8m) and capital of JPY150 million with Toshiba and Tepco each holding 50%.

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa was unaffected by the 2011 earthquake, although its reactors were all previously offline for up to three years following the 2007 Niigata-Chuetsu earthquake, which caused damage to the site but did not to the reactors. While the units were shut, work was carried out to improve the plant’s earthquake resistance. Currently, Tepco is focusing on units 6 and 7 while it deals with the Fukushima clean-up. The two units have been offline for periodic inspections since March 2012 and August 2011, and restarting them would increase Tepco’s earnings by an estimated JPY100 billion a year.

Units 6 and 7 at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa are the first BWRs to meet Japan’s revised regulatory standards. Tepco expects to complete safety upgrades at the units by December 2020.

In 2017, Tepco received initial approval from NRA to restart Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 6 and 7. The plant’s total capacity of 8,212MWe represents 20% of Japan’s nuclear capacity. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is Tepco’s only remaining nuclear plant after it announced plans to shut its Fukushima Daini station, near the Fukushima Daichi plant destroyed in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO’s new tactics: to restart so as to close….

TEPCO offers to close reactors after restarting Niigata plant
The No. 1 to No. 4 reactors of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant stand in the foreground, while the No. 5 to No. 7 reactors can be seen in the background
August 26, 2019
KASHIWAZAKI, Niigata Prefecture–Tokyo Electric Power Co. indicated it would decommission idle reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant here, but that move may not be enough to win local consent to restart other reactors at the site.
TEPCO officials, including President Tomoaki Kobayakawa, met with Kashiwazaki Mayor Masahiro Sakurai on Aug. 26 and passed on their plans to decommission one or more reactors within five years after operations are resumed at the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors.
TEPCO has long planned to restart those two reactors at the seven-reactor plant. As a condition for his consent to the restarts, Sakurai in June 2017 insisted that TEPCO compile a plan regarding the decommissioning of the other five reactors.
Hearing of TEPCO’s latest plan, Sakurai said the proposal was likely the maximum that could be expected of the utility.
“But I cannot hand out a passing grade based on today’s answer alone,” the mayor said.
He said he would ask TEPCO to respond to additional requests related to a resumption of operations, such as how measures to enhance safety at the plant would affect the local economy.
TEPCO had insisted that resuming operations at the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors after both passed stricter safety regulations would provide a major pillar for rebuilding its corporate finances.
Sakurai had asked for a decommissioning plan because he felt the need to reduce the risks to his city from the high concentration of nuclear reactors and to develop a decommissioning sector among businesses in Kashiwazaki.
However, TEPCO has other hurdles to clear before it can resume operations at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.
The Niigata prefectural government has been conducting its own evaluation of the 2011 triple meltdown at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. It remains to be seen if Niigata Governor Hideyo Hanazumi will give his consent to resumption of operations.
The seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant are all boiling-water types similar to those at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The No. 1 to No. 5 reactors at the plant in Niigata Prefecture can each generate 1.1 gigawatts, while the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors can each produce 1.356 gigawatts.
The oldest No. 1 reactor began operations in 1985, meaning it is fast approaching the 40-year limit for its operating life that is in place, in principle, for nuclear reactors.
The No. 2 to No. 4 reactors have remained offline since the 2007 Niigata Chuetsu-oki Earthquake.
All reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant have been offline since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
TEPCO may consider scrapping 1 or more reactors in Kashiwazaki
August 26, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said Monday it may consider decommissioning one or more reactors at its nuclear power plant in Kashiwazaki in Niigata Prefecture within five years after reactivating two idled reactors at the same plant.
TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa mentioned for the first time the possibility of decommissioning some or all of the Nos. 1 to 5 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, located northwest of Tokyo, as the host city’s Mayor Masahiro Sakurai has made it a condition for approving the restarts of its Nos. 6 and 7 reactors.
During a meeting with Sakurai, Kobayakawa noted the necessity of maintaining Nos. 1 to 5 reactors for now but said the company will consider decommissioning one or more of them once it deems it can secure enough power from non-fossil sources with limited greenhouse gas emissions.
(Sakurai, left, and Kobayakawa, 3rd from right)
“TEPCO has given me the maximum reply it could think of now,” said Sakurai, suggesting his satisfaction with the response despite TEPCO not specifying how many reactors it might decommission or giving a firm pledge to do so.
In June 2017, Sakurai said he would demand the utility submit a plan for scrapping reactors within two years and asked for specifics, including how many and which reactors will be decommissioned and by when, saying a plan without such details “cannot be called a plan.”
Hit by the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in 2011 and massive compensation payments for those affected by it, TEPCO has been seeking to restart the Nos. 6 and 7 reactors and had also hoped to keep the Nos. 1 to 5 reactors for rebuilding its business. All seven reactors are currently offline.
But Sakurai called for scrapping some of them on worries that all seven reactors are located in one area and that an accident in one could easily spread to the others.
The Nos. 6 and 7 reactors won approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority needed for the restart in December 2017, and TEPCO has carried out construction work for enhancing their safety. But it has yet to gain local consent for their restart.
The utility initially sought to reply to Sakurai in July but the plan was put on hold after the utility angered the mayor by misinforming his city of an abnormality at the plant in a major earthquake that hit Niigata Prefecture on June 18.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

New tactics from TEPCO to get Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP reopening approval

Japan’s Tepco weighs retiring some reactors at massive plant
Dismantling one or more units geared to easing local opposition to resuming operations
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When fully operational, Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility is the largest nuclear power plant in the world.
August 24, 2019
TOKYO — Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings is considering decommissioning one or more of the seven reactors at a key nuclear power plant in northern Japan, Nikkei has learned, as it attempts to ease community pushback against restarting it.
Tepco will not aim to reactivate all of the No. 1 through No. 5 reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture — meltdown-hit Fukushima Prefecture’s western neighbor. It will instead pick at least one of them to dismantle after restarting the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors, as approved by the central government. Tepco President Tomoaki Kobayakawa is expected to convey that intent to Masahiro Sakurai, mayor of the city of Kashiwazaki, in meetings on Monday.
The plant — the world’s largest when fully operational — is undergoing separate checks led by the prefectural government, leaving the time frame for a restart unclear.
The utility hopes that offering a plan for decommissioning down the road, as Sakurai has demanded, will help win over locals for its efforts to restart the two greenlit reactors, an important step in improving its financial health.
Tepco decided in late July to retire all its remaining reactors in Fukushima Prefecture on top of the ongoing decommissioning of disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi, the site of the 2011 meltdown resulting from a massive earthquake and tsunami. Coming on the heels of July’s move, the utility judged that issues of manpower and finance would preclude immediately moving to dismantle parts of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa.
In June 2017, Sakurai asked that Tepco present a plan for dismantling at least one of reactors No. 1 through No. 5 within two years as a condition for restarting No. 6 and No. 7. Tepco has missed that deadline. Restarting the two reactors, which passed central-government safety inspections in December 2017, would likely create an easier environment for tackling the problem.
Tepco aims to shoulder the costs of decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi and paying out compensation. An outflow of customers on its capital-area home turf has left it in worsening financial straits. It hopes for relief from Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, where each reactor it restarts is expected to provide a roughly 100 billion yen ($939 million) shot in the arm per year.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment