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60 holes at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuke plant found unfilled in violation of building code

60 holes Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 23 nov 2017.png
Reactor buildings at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant are seen in this file photo taken in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, on April 26, 2017.
 
Sixty holes violating the Building Standards Act were found recently in firewalls at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture, in addition to two similar holes found in July this year, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) announced Nov. 22.
Of the 60 holes, 49 date back to the 1980s when the No. 1 reactor building was built, revealing administrative agencies’ lack of consideration for proper construction management.
Reactor buildings have several thousand holes in them for pipes. Of these holes, those going through firewalls are required to have any gaps filled in with mortar caulk or other nonflammable material. In July, TEPCO found two holes in a firewall in the No. 2 reactor building that had not been properly filled in. A subsequent inspection of the entire plant found that 60 holes had not been filled in — a building code violation — of which 41 were in radiation-control areas.
The power company will begin taking countermeasures, such as filling the holes in, as early as the beginning of the New Year. “At the time the reactor buildings were built, our awareness of the risks was insufficient,” TEPCO spokesperson Yoshimi Hitosugi said.
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November 25, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Japan Cleared to Re-Start World’s Largest Nuclear Plant

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TEPCO, which responded so badly to the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear disaster, has won approval from Japan’s nuclear reactor to crank back up the world’s biggest nuclear power plant.

The word “nuclear” has a lot more power in Japan than it does elsewhere. 

Tokyo Electric Power, or TEPCO (TKECY) as it is better known, has just won approval to re-start two reactors at the world’s largest nuclear power plant. Its shares got a jolt of 3% at that announcement.

Nuclear-linked stocks will be worth watching as the company pushes on with that attempt. TEPCO is, after all, the company that responded so badly to the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant in 2011.

The only country to have been hit by an atom bomb nevertheless embraced the technology behind nuclear power. Around one-fifth of all electricity is intended to be produced that way.

Then came the disaster at Fukushima. The March 2011 earthquake unleashed a tidal wave that ultimately killed 15,894 people, causing ¥21.5 trillion ($191 billion) in damage. Only the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in Ukraine was worse.

The tsunami deluged the nuclear reactors at Fukushima, and three of them melted down. That shined a spotlight on the inept operations and response of TEPCO, which ran the plant.

The company was terrible at responding to the disaster and even worse at responding to the public. Its executives went into shutdown mode, as Asian companies are wont to do. It denied facts that turned out to be true, downplayed the impact and generally pretended that there’s nothing to see here, we’ve got it all under control, please move along.

So it’s amazing that it’s back in big-time nuclear business. Most recently, Japan’s nuclear regulator, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, has granted TEPCO initial safety approval to restart two reactors, six and seven, at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, the world’s largest.

The five NRA commissioners voted unanimously for permission to crank the reactors back up. Formal approval will likely go ahead after a 30-day period for public comment.

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The governor of Niigata prefecture, where that plant is based, says he won’t consider allowing the plant to run again until the prefecture conducts its own review of what went on at Fukushima, and that won’t happen until 2020 at the earliest.

Opinion polls show that a majority of the Japanese public now opposes nuclear power and would ultimately like Japan to cease producing it. It’s likely that nuclear power will come up as an issue in the Japanese election, slated for Oct. 22. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe believes nuclear power is a viable and stable source of energy. His Liberal Democratic Party wants to see more of Japan’s nuclear reactors put back to work.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, a former defense minister in the Abe government, has formed a conservative party to rival Abe’s conservative government. Although she says she won’t run for prime minister, her Kibo no To, or Party of Hope, will contest many of the seats up for grabs.

The party is considering an anti-nuclear stance. “We’ll examine how to bring down the reliance to zero by 2030,” Koike told a news conference, according to the Japan Times.

Nuclear power is intended to produce around 22% of Japan’s electricity if all its plants are operating. Government plans call for another 27% to come from liquefied natural gas, around 23% from renewable sources, and only 26% from coal.

All 42 of Japan’s nuclear reactors were ordered to shut down in 2011.

Kyushu Electric Power (KYSEY) was the first company to fire back up a nuclear plant after the 2011 quake, on the island of the same name in the city of Sendai. That’s part of Japan’s industrial heartland.

Kansai Electric Power (KAEPY) was last week granted permission from the mayor of Ohi, in Fukui Prefecture, to re-start two reactors there. The company had applied in August for permission to do so, from Japan’s nuclear regulator, the Nuclear Regulation Authority. 

Meanwhile, TEPCO continues the cleanup of the mess at Fukushima. It has delayed the removal of used nuclear rods from fuel pools at the plant. It shifted fuel removal from 2017 to 2018 at the safest of the reactors, and from 2020 to 2023 for another two.

It also has to mop up about 770,000 tons of contaminated water that was pumped into the plant to cool the melted fuel reactors. That’s due to be cleaned out of around 580 tanks where it is stored on site by 2020 – the same year that Tokyo will host the Olympics.

https://www.thestreet.com/story/14332182/1/japan-set-to-restart-worlds-largest-nuclear-plant.html

kashiwazaki-kriwa npp location

October 10, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Watchdog’s safety clearance for Tepco reactors irks Fukushima victims

n-reactions-a-20171005.jpgAnti-nuclear activists protest on Wednesday near a building in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, where the Nuclear Regulation Authority held a meeting to give safety approval for two reactors at Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture.

 

Two nuclear reactors run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. cleared the safety review of Japan’s nuclear watchdog on Wednesday, drawing fierce criticism from residents who remain displaced more than six years after the nuclear crisis at the utility’s Fukushima complex.

The government safety clearance of reactors 6 and 7 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power station in Niigata Prefecture is a key step toward having operations resume.

It appears that things are moving forward as if the (Fukushima nuclear) crisis is over,” said Hiroko Matsumoto, 68, who lives in a temporary shelter house in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, away from her home in Tomioka, also in the prefecture, due to the triple meltdown at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 plant in March 2011.

I want (Tepco) to never forget that a serious nuclear accident can cause enormous damage,” she said.

The approval by the Nuclear Regulation Authority shocked residents in Niigata and surrounding areas who are concerned about the reactors’ reactivation, but others are hoping to see economic benefits from the restart.

I am surprised that the regulatory authority abruptly softened its stance toward Tepco. I doubt such a hasty decision can guarantee citizens’ safety,” said Nobuko Baba, 76, who lives about 23 kilometers east of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

Whether to resume operation (of the two reactors) should be the decision of Niigata Prefecture citizens. I am counting on Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama, who has been wary about it,” she said.

Yoneyama ordered a local investigation into the causes and impact of the Fukushima disaster, and is not expected to decide on whether he will approve a restart until the assessment is completed around 2020.

In contrast, Yasuo Ishizaka, 53, an executive of an industrial equipment company in Kashiwazaki, was happy to hear the news.

I am glad that the safety screening went smoothly, and it is a big step forward for the local economy,” Ishizaka said.

On Wednesday, anti-nuclear activists gathered near a building in Tokyo’s Minato Ward where the nuclear watchdog held a meeting and endorsed a draft document, which serves as certification that the two reactors have met the new, stricter safety standards introduced after the Fukushima disaster.

Amid chants of “Tepco should not be qualified” and “No reactor resumption,” a representative handed over a letter of protest to an official of the regulator.

With the authority’s safety approval, the two reactors became the first of Tepco’s idled units to pass the safety screening since the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

In a media statement on Wednesday, international environmentalist group Greenpeace criticized the regulator’s decision as reckless and said local opposition against the restarts remains strong.

It’s the same disregard for nuclear risks that resulted in Tepco’s 2011 triple reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 site. Approving the safety of reactors at the world’s largest nuclear plant, when it is at extreme risk from major earthquakes, completely exposes the weakness of Japan’s nuclear regulator,” said Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist for Greenpeace Germany.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/10/04/national/nuclear-watchdog-safety-clearance-tepco-reactors-fukushima-victims/#.WdXxBRdx3rd

October 5, 2017 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

The World’s Biggest Nuclear Plant Approved to Be Restarted in Japan

Fukushima operator can restart nuclear reactors at world’s biggest plant

Tepco, still struggling to decommission Fukushima Daiichi, gets initial approval to start two reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa

Screenshot from 2017-10-05 23-25-08.pngReactors No 6, right, and No 7 at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.

 

The operator of Japan’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been given initial approval to restart reactors at another atomic facility, marking the first step towards the firm’s return to nuclear power generation more than six years after the March 2011 triple meltdown.

Japan’s nuclear regulator on Wednesday approved an application from Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) to restart two reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa – the world’s biggest nuclear power plant – even as the utility struggles to decommission Fukushima Daiichi.

The process will involve reviews and consultations with the public, and the restart is also expected to encounter strong opposition from people living near the plant on the Japan Sea coast of Niigata prefecture.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) ruled that the No 6 and No 7 reactors, each with a capacity of 1,356 megawatts, met stringent new safety standards introduced after the Fukushima disaster. The authority’s five commissioners voted unanimously to approve the restarts at a meeting on Wednesday.

The decision drew criticism from anti-nuclear campaigners.

Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, accused the NRA of being reckless.

He added: “It is the same disregard for nuclear risks that resulted in Tepco’s 2011 triple reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi site. Approving the safety of reactors at the world’s largest nuclear plant when it is at extreme risk from major earthquakes completely exposes the weakness of Japan’s nuclear regulator.”

Greenpeace said 23 seismic faultlines ran through the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa site.

Tepco said in a statement that it took the regulatory authority’s decision seriously and would continue making safety improvements at its plants while it attempted to decommission Fukushima Daiichi and compensate evacuees.

Despite the NRA’s approval, it could take years for the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactors to go back into operation.

The governor of Niigata, Ryuichi Yoneyama, has said he will not decide on whether to agree to the restarts until Tepco completes its review of the Fukushima accident – a process that is expected to take at least another three years.

Fukushima evacuees voiced anger at the regulator’s decision.

It looks like things are moving forward as if the Fukushima nuclear crisis is over,” Hiroko Matsumoto, who lives in temporary housing, told Kyodo news. Matsumoto, whose home was close to Fukushima Daiichi, said Tepco should “never forget that a serious nuclear accident can cause enormous damage”.

Tepco has been seeking permission to restart the idled reactors to help it reduce spending on fossil fuel imports, which have soared since the disaster, triggered by a huge earthquake and tsunami, forced the closure of all of Japan’s nuclear reactors. Four have since gone back online after passing safety inspections.

The utility faces huge compensation claims from people who were evacuated after three of Fukushima Daiichi’s six reactors went into meltdown on 11 March 2011, as well as a rising decommissioning bill.

Earlier this year, the Japan Centre for Economic Research said the total cost of the Fukushima cleanup – which is expected to take up to 40 years – could soar to between 50-70tn yen (£330bn-£470bn). Earlier estimates put the cost at about 22tn yen.

Nuclear power is expected to become a key issue in the election later this month.

The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has argued that reactor restarts are necessary for economic growth and to enable Japan to meet its climate change commitments. The government wants nuclear to provide about 20% of Japan’s energy by 2030.

But the newly formed Party of Hope, which has emerged as the main opposition to Abe’s Liberal Democratic party, wants to phase out nuclear power by 2030.

Opinion polls show that most Japanese people oppose nuclear restarts.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/04/fukushima-operator-tepco-restart-nuclear-reactors-kashiwazaki-kariwa

NRA approves safety measures at TEPCO plant in Niigata

 

Photo/Illustration The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture

 

Japan’s nuclear watchdog on Oct. 4 approved Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s safety measures taken to restart two reactors in Niigata Prefecture, the first such approval for the company since the Fukushima nuclear disaster unfolded.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority confirmed the results of its screening on the technological aspects of the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors that TEPCO wants to bring online at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant.

It was also the first time for the NRA to conclude that boiling-water reactors, the same type as those at TEPCO’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, met the new safety standards adopted after the meltdowns at the plant in 2011.

The NRA plans to hear opinions from the public about its judgment for 30 days before deciding on whether to make the approval official. It will also solicit the views of the minister of economy, trade and industry.

As one condition for official approval, the NRA is requiring the industry minister to oversee the utility’s management policy concerning its initiative and responsibility for work to decommission the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

From now, the NRA will check equipment designs and security regulations, including how TEPCO will guarantee its promise that its priority is on safety, not economic benefits.

The NRA’s screening process at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant went beyond checking technological aspects of TEPCO’s safety measures. Given TEPCO’s history of mistakes and blunders, NRA members also discussed whether the utility was even eligible to operate nuclear power plants.

In response to the NRA’s demands that TEPCO take full responsibility for decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 plant, the utility in late August stressed that its stance of putting importance on safety is “a promise to the people.”

The NRA then approved TEPCO’s eligibility but attached some conditions.

In late September, however, it came to light that workers at the Fukushima No. 1 plant were erroneously setting water gauges to measure groundwater levels of wells around reactor buildings, which could cause leaks of highly contaminated water to the outside water.

Inspectors will face a formidable challenge in judging individual issues facing TEPCO based on security regulations.

However, even if TEPCO passes all of the screenings, it must win the consent of local governments to restart the reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant.

Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama has said that he will wait for three or four years to make decision on the restarts, until his prefectural government completes its own investigation into the cause of the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201710040031.html

TEPCO reactors clear safety review for 1st time after Fukushima

Screenshot from 2017-10-05 18-14-56From left, the No. 5, No. 6 and No. 7 reactors of the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Niigata Prefecture are seen from a Mainichi Shimbun aircraft on Sept. 30, 2017.

 

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Two reactors in Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast run by the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant cleared government safety standards on Wednesday, becoming the first of the utility’s idled units to pass tightened screening.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority endorsed at its meeting a draft document that serves as certification that Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Nos. 6 and 7 reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power station have met the new, stricter safety standards introduced after the Fukushima disaster.

The two reactors are the newest among the seven units at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. The complex is one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants, with a combined output capacity of 8.2 million kilowatts.

Despite the effective approval by the nuclear regulator, the actual restart of the two reactors will likely be at least a few years away as Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama says it will take “around three to four years” for the utility to win local consent for the resumption of operation.

Formal approval of the restart by the nuclear watchdog is expected after receiving public opinions and consulting with the economy, trade and industry minister to confirm that Tepco is fit to be an operator.

The clearance of the two units is likely to be a boost for the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which is keen to retain nuclear power generation despite Japan suffering the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in March 2011, triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Tepco, facing huge compensation payments and other costs stemming from the Fukushima crisis, has been desperate to resume operation of its idled reactors so it can reduce spending on costly fossil fuel imports for non-nuclear thermal power generation.

It filed for safety assessments of the two idled reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in September 2013.

In addition to assessing technical requirements, the review focused on whether Tepco is qualified to once again operate a nuclear power plant as it struggles with work to scrap the Fukushima Daiichi complex, an effort expected to take until around 2051, and reduce contaminated water around the crippled plant where radiation levels remain high.

The two reactors are boiling-water reactors, the same as those that experienced meltdowns in the Fukushima crisis. No such types have previously cleared Japan’s safety standards after the Fukushima disaster, partly as they are required to conduct major refurbishment to boost safety.

Under the new safety requirements, BWRs must be equipped with filtered venting systems so that radioactive substances will be reduced when gas and steam need to be released to prevent damage to containment vessels.

The venting facilities are not an immediate requirement for pressurized water reactors as PWRs are housed in containers larger than those of BWRs, giving more time until pressure rises inside the containers.

In the review, the regulator had questioned Tepco on its posture to ensure the safety of the units. The company last month agreed to a request from the regulator to include a safety pledge as part of its legally binding reactor safety program.

Safety programs drawn up for reactors need to be approved by the regulator and if it finds a grave violation, it can demand the utility halt nuclear power operations.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171004/p2g/00m/0dm/054000c

October 5, 2017 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Tepco promises legal safety vow as it seeks to restart reactors

Promises are meant to be broken

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The head of Tepco Electric Power company Holdings Inc. promised Wednesday to institute a safety pledge as requested by nuclear regulator, as the company seeks clearance to reactivate undamaged, idle reactors located far from its plant crippled by natural disaster in 2011.

has been calling for the company to make such a pledge part of its legally binding reactor safety program because it operates the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the site of a major nuclear disaster in the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami.

President Tomoaki Kobayakawa told the regulator on Wednesday that will stipulate a pledge to build “safety culture” in its program developed for ensuring safe operation of the Nos. 6 and 7 reactors at the company’s power station in Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of coast.

promise will pave the way for the regulator’s safety clearance for the two units — boiling-water reactors that are the same type as the ones that experienced meltdowns in the disaster.

The regulator will soon compile a draft document for the two units that will serve as certification that the utility has satisfied new stricter safety requirements implemented since the nuclear disaster.

It will then consult the economy, trade and industry minister, who oversees the nuclear industry, to confirm that is fit to be an operator. It will also solicit comments from the public before formally giving safety clearance.

Even if the reactors clear the safety checks, local governments in the area on which the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant sits remain cautious about their resumption.

Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama, for example, has said it will take “around three to four years” for the utility to win the required local consent for a restart.

said last week was “qualified” as a nuclear plant operator, but that it wanted the utility to express its resolve to ensure safety in a legal document, not just in words.

Safety programs drawn up for reactors need to be approved by the regulator and if it finds a grave violation, it can demand a halt to nuclear power operations from the utility.

“We intend to tackle the unending mission of improving the safety of nuclear power and to complete the decommissioning and compensation of the Fukushima Daiichi complex,” Kobayakawa said at the regulator’s meeting on Wednesday. “We will also make efforts to maintain qualification” as operator of nuclear reactors, he said.

The Nos. 6 and 7 units at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant are the newest among the seven units at the plant. The complex is one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants with a combined output capacity of 8.2 million kilowatts.

For a reactor to be restarted, it first needs to clear the safety requirements introduced in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis. filed for safety assessments of the two units in .

, which is facing massive compensation payments and other costs in the aftermath of one of the world’s worst nuclear crises, has been desperate to resume operation of its idled reactors so it can reduce spending on costly fossil fuel imports for non-nuclear thermal power generation.

While some reactors run by other utilities have resumed operations in by satisfying the new safety regulations, has been under close scrutiny by regulators on whether it is qualified to once again operate a nuclear power plant.

http://m.4-traders.com/TOKYO-ELECTRIC-POWER-COMP-6491247/news/Tokyo-Electric-Power-Tepco-promises-legal-safety-vow-as-it-seeks-to-restart-reactors-25144769/

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September 23, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Nuclear regulator defers giving safety OK for idle Tepco reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant

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TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s nuclear safety watchdog on Wednesday deferred giving safety clearance for two idle Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. reactors on the Sea of Japan coast, although its chairman said the utility was “qualified” as a nuclear plant operator.

Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said following Wednesday’s meeting that Tepco, operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, was qualified but needs to stipulate its resolve to ensure safe operation of nuclear plants in its safety rules.

“It’s insecure” if Tepco expresses its resolve to ensure safety only in words, Tanaka told a press conference.

Safety rules need to be approved by the regulator and if there is a grave violation the regulator can demand that the utility halt nuclear power operations.

The regulator will formally inform the utility’s president, Tomoaki Kobayakawa, about the matter on Sept. 20. A final decision on whether Tepco is fit to be an operator will be made following discussions with the economy, trade and industry minister.

If Tepco agrees to include its resolve to ensure safety in its safety rules, the regulator will compile a draft document for the Nos. 6 and 7 reactors at Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture that will serve as certification that the utility has satisfied new safety requirements implemented since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The regulator had been expected at Wednesday’s meeting to confirm that the units have cleared the new safety requirements, but it reversed course after facing criticism over a lack of debate on whether the operator is fit to run a nuclear power plant.

For a reactor to be restarted, it first needs to clear the stiffer safety requirements introduced in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Tepco filed for safety assessments of the two units in September 2013.

According to sources close to the matter, the regulator had planned to give safety clearance while Tanaka was still on the board. Tanaka’s term expires on Sept. 18, although he will continue to work until Sept. 22.

The regulator had reached a near consensus on the issue of Tepco’s qualification when its members previously met on Sept. 6.

During the summer, the regulator questioned the Tepco management, including Kobayakawa, about its nuclear safety awareness. In July, Tanaka criticized Tepco’s attitude, saying, “An operator, which cannot take concrete measures for decommissioning efforts at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, does not have the right to resume operation of nuclear reactors.”

Tanaka urged the utility to further explain in writing issues such as how to deal with contaminated water at the Fukushima plant.

While Tepco, in its subsequent written response, did not give details about what it would do regarding the contaminated water, it did pledge to see through the scrapping of the plant, gaining a certain level of understanding from the regulator.

Meanwhile, the prospect of gaining local consent needed for the restart of the two reactors remains uncertain, with Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama saying it will take “around three to four years” for the utility to win local consent for the envisioned restart.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170914/p2g/00m/0dm/006000c

 

 

September 15, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO gets OK to restart Niigata reactors, with conditions

Screenshot from 2017-09-15 01-39-06.png

 

The nation’s nuclear watchdog gave conditional approval Sept. 13 to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s application to resume operations of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant.

It marks the first time that reactors operated by TEPCO, which manages the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, have passed more stringent reactor regulations imposed by the Nuclear Regulation Authority after the triple meltdown in 2011.

The two reactors at the plant in Niigata Prefecture–the No. 6 and No. 7 units–are the first boiling-water reactors in Japan to clear the regulations. They are the same type as the reactors at the Fukushima plant.

The NRA already accepts that TEPCO has the technological know-how to operate the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, one of the world’s largest.

But it had harbored doubts about the company’s fitness to operate a nuclear plant, given its tendency to put its balance sheet ahead of safety precautions.

The NRA ordered TEPCO to provide in the legally required safety code a detailed explanation of procedures it will take to ensure that the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant is operated safely.

That way, the watchdog body aims to make the utility legally accountable if problems arise.

It will also closely monitor the utility’s actions in adhering to the safety code once the NRA approves the measures proposed by TEPCO.

The NRA will summon Tomoaki Kobayakawa, the new president of TEPCO, to request a more demanding safety code from the company.

As another condition for a restart, the NRA called for the industry ministry’s clear-cut commitment to oversee TEPCO’s compliance with safety if it is satisfied with the utility’s pledge to respond appropriately to the decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The industry ministry oversees the nuclear industry.

Despite the NRA’s conditional approval, the utility will need to gain consent from local governments for a restart.

Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, who took office last year, has made it clear that he will not agree to the restart until the prefectural government completes its investigation into the Fukushima nuclear disaster to determine what went wrong. The investigation is expected to take several years.

In an effort to underscore its eligibility as an operator of a nuclear plant, TEPCO submitted a written pledge in August that it is “determined to take the initiative in addressing the needs of victims in Fukushima Prefecture and accomplish the decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.”

If the safety code and the industry minister’s commitment are secured, the NRA concluded that the utility will be eligible to resume operations of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the NRA, said at the Sept. 13 meeting that TEPCO’s vow in August is “binding.”

The NRA indicated that if TEPCO fails to adhere to its “promise” to heed to safety, it will exercise the power to suspend the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant’s operations or revoke its license to operate it.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant has seven reactors. The No. 6 reactor and the No. 7 reactor started operations in 1996 and 1997, respectively. Each has a capacity of 1.36 gigawatts.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201709130058.html

September 14, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Nuclear Regulator Not Agreeing to Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP Reactor Restart Plans

Nuclear regulator does dizzying U-turn on TEPCO reactor restart plans

Screenshot from 2017-09-08 00-09-16.pngFrom left, the No. 5, 6 and 7 reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant are seen in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, in this April 21, 2016 file photo.

 

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the utility responsible for the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and its March 2011 triple meltdown, is aiming to get the reactors at its other power plants back on line.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), which must approve any restarts, had been holding to a very strict line on TEPCO applications. However, on Sept. 6 the NRA abruptly changed track, taking a more sympathetic attitude and indicating that the No. 6 and 7 reactors at the utility’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture would likely pass their safety inspections — a prerequisite for restart approval.

Despite the NRA’s suddenly sunny attitude, the prefectural government has not budged from its more cautious position. And TEPCO, which has made the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant a chief pillar of its business recovery plans, cannot flip the reactors’ “on” switch without the prefecture’s imprimatur, meaning the plant still has no clear restart schedule.

When the NRA summoned TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa and other top managers on July 10 this year to testify on the utility’s competence to keep running nuclear plants, authority chairman Shunichi Tanaka was unequivocal and unforgiving.

Screenshot from 2017-09-08 00-09-47.png

Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka speaks to the Mainichi Shimbun during an Aug. 29, 2017 interview. (Mainichi)

“If TEPCO is unwilling or unable to finalize the decommissioning of the Fukushima (No. 1 station) reactors, it is simply not qualified to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant,” Tanaka told the executives, adding, “I don’t see TEPCO showing any independent initiative whatsoever.”

The NRA chairman was referring to the longstanding problems with contaminated water and radioactive waste disposal plaguing TEPCO’s Fukushima plant decommissioning efforts. The utility tends to focus too much on trying to read the government’s mind on any and all Fukushima issues — an attitude that has long drawn NRA criticism.

When the NRA inspected the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant’s No. 6 and 7 reactors, it added a new evaluation category to the usual technological checklist, though it was not part of the new safety standards: “eligibility.” That is, TEPCO’s eligibility to run a nuclear power plant at all. After all, it was one of TEPCO’s plants that had succumbed to the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. “TEPCO is different from other (power) companies,” Tanaka had said.

TEPCO President Kobayakawa and Chairman Takashi Kawamura are also a source of NRA concern. The two had no role in the utility’s response to the 2011 meltdowns, and Kobayakawa replaced a much more experienced hand in Naomi Hirose, a TEPCO managing director when the disaster struck. After his NRA dressing-down in July, Kobayakawa apparently visited the Fukushima disaster zone seven times.

However, there has been an apparent U-turn in Tanaka’s stance. A document submitted on Aug. 25 to the NRA under Kobayakawa’s name was sewn with phrases like, “We will carry the (Fukushima) reactor decommissioning through to the end,” and other terms suggesting a determined TEPCO attitude. At the same time, the document was bereft of details on specific preparedness measures or progress benchmarks for the decommissioning work.

Nevertheless, when Kobayakawa again appeared before the NRA on Aug. 30, the body indicated its acceptance of TEPCO’s position. Taking the contaminated water problem “as one example,” Tanaka stated that he recognized TEPCO’s lack of concrete countermeasure planning couldn’t be helped under the circumstances. One NRA executive revealed to the Mainichi Shimbun, “We avoided demanding a detailed (disposal measures) plan because we don’t legally have that authority, and doing so could pose legal risks.”

Pro-TEPCO sentiment was on conspicuous display when the NRA met again on Sept. 6, including acting Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa’s declaration that he “felt TEPCO’s drive to pass on the lessons of the (Fukushima nuclear) accident.”

Committee member Nobuhiko Ban stated that while the document the utility had submitted in the summer was a “declaration of intent,” he was “concerned over whether this alone can constitute eligibility” to run a nuclear plant. However, Tanaka wrapped up discussion by saying that “circumstances are not such that we can deny (TEPCO’s) eligibility.”

Tanaka will leave his NRA post on Sept. 18 after completing his five-year term in the chairmanship, and at a post-meeting news conference he was asked if he had wanted to bring the TEPCO issue to a close while in office.

“I can’t say that I’ve never felt that way,” Tanaka replied.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170907/p2a/00m/0na/019000c

NRA doubts TEPCO’s safety vow in Niigata, plans legal move

Screenshot from 2017-09-08 00-11-58.pngTokyo Electric Power Co. wants to restart the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors, shown in the forefront, at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture.

 

The Nuclear Regulation Authority, skeptical of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s promise to put safety ahead of profits, plans to gain legal assurances before allowing the embattled utility to start operating nuclear reactors again.

TEPCO has applied to restart two reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture, which would be the first run by the company since the disaster unfolded at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011.

Although NRA members agreed that the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant passed new regulations on technological aspects, they could not agree on whether the company has learned its lessons about safety management since the triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant.

To ensure TEPCO will put safety at the forefront of its operations, the NRA is considering holding the utility legally responsible for completing the entire decommissioning process of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The regulator expects to draft a checklist to verify the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant’s safety and other steps before it makes a final decision on whether to allow TEPCO to restart the reactors. The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 13.

The NRA had previously determined that 12 reactors at six nuclear plants met new nuclear reactor regulations shortly after completion of their technological examinations.

The NRA also finished its technological examinations of the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors, the newest ones at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

The plant has seven reactors, making it one of the largest nuclear power stations in the world. The two reactors that TEPCO wants to put online each has a capacity of 1.36 gigawatts.

TEPCO has said the resumption of the reactors are needed to turn around its business fortunes.

But NRA commissioners are reluctant to allow TEPCO to bring the plant online based solely on the results of the technological screening.

After the chairman and president of the utility were replaced in June, the NRA summoned the new top executives in July.

The watchdog demanded that they give a written response to the regulator’s position that TEPCO “is not qualified to operate the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, given the seeming lack of determination and spotty track record to take the initiative in decommissioning (the Fukushima No. 1 plant).”

In August, the company submitted a paper to the NRA promising to “take the initiative in addressing the problem of victims of the nuclear disaster and to fulfill the task to decommission the plant.”

The paper also said the company “has no intention whatsoever to place economic performance over safety at the (Kashiwazaki-Kariwa) plant.”

Tomoaki Kobayakawa, the new president of TEPCO, called the paper a “promise to the public.”

Although the NRA commissioners on Sept. 6 recognized TEPCO’s commitment to safety to a certain degree, doubts remained.

Nobuhiko Ban, an NRA member who is a specialist on radiological protection, called for a system that would keep TEPCO committed to safety management in the future.

Is it all right for us to take TEPCO’s vow at face value?” he said.

The NRA then decided to consider legal ways to hold TEPCO accountable for safety issues.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201709070026.html

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Two reactors at Tepco’s giant Niigata plant close to being restarted

NRA eager to clear Kashiwazaki-Kariya plant

n-tepco-a-20170903-870x539.jpgTokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. employees take part in a drill in the simulator of the central control room for a reactor inside the seismic isolation building at the company’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, in February 2015.

 

Two Tokyo Electric reactors at the massive Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power station in Niigata Prefecture are expected to clear the initial safety hurdle for restarts soon, sources said Friday.

According to the sources, the Nuclear Regulation Authority will start talks on the issue on Wednesday, with a view to compiling a document that will certify the two units passed the new safety requirements introduced after the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. has been struggling to recover ever since the triple core meltdown in March 2011 because the seven-reactor Niigata plant is a crucial money maker. The utility has spent years trying to restart the plant, which is the only nuclear complex it runs aside from the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

It filed for safety assessments for reactor Nos. 6 and 7 in September 2013.

The NRA wants to reach a conclusion on the issue before Chairman Shunichi Tanaka’s five-year term expires on Sept. 18, the sources said. But the move may trigger public criticism because Tepco still has a long way to go to scrap the ruined reactors at Fukushima No. 1, which was engulfed by quake-triggered tsunami and lost all power.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex is one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants and has an output capacity of 8.2 million kilowatts. Units 6 and 7 are boiling water reactors — the same type as the ones at Fukushima No. 1 — and the newest of the seven sitting along the Sea of Japan coast.

The governments hosting the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant are also cautious about restarting the units, with Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama saying it will take “around three to four years” for the utility to win local consent on the matter.

Tepco, which is facing massive compensation payments and other costs from dealing with the world’s worst nuclear crises since Chernobyl, has been desperate to restart the idled reactors so it can reduce spending on costly fossil fuel imports needed to run the thermal power plants making up for the nationwide nuclear shutdowns.

Some reactors at other utilities have already resumed operations, but Tepco has been under constant scrutiny to determine whether it is qualified to once again operate a nuclear power plant.

Some inside the NRA have been reluctant to move ahead with the safety review at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa. But Tanaka strongly wants to set a course on the issue before he leaves his position at the NRA, and this was one of the factors that led to the latest development in Niigata, the sources said.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/09/02/national/tepco-hopes-niigata-reactors-will-clear-major-safety-hurdle-road-restart/#.WaxZlRdLfrc

September 3, 2017 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Mayor: TEPCO’s Niigata plant must close 5 reactors

hhkjmKashiwazaki Mayor Masahiro Sakurai, left, explains the city’s conditions for the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant at a meeting with Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. President Tomoaki Kobayakawa at the city hall in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, on July 25.

 

KASHIWAZAKI, Niigata Prefecture–Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s hopes of a phased restart of all of the reactors at its nuclear power plant here to save on fuel costs faces a new obstacle in the form of the local mayor.

Mayor Masahiro Sakurai said July 25 he will agree to the restart of two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, but on the condition that TEPCO “presents a plan to decommission the remaining five in two years.”

The demand was made in the mayor’s first meeting with TEPCO’s new president, Tomoaki Kobayakawa. Sakurai handed over a document listing the city’s conditions for a restart.

In response, Kobayakawa merely said, “We should exchange opinions further.”

The plant, which is located in Kashiwazaki and neighboring Kariwa, is one of the world’s largest nuclear power stations, with seven nuclear reactors.

All the reactors are offline now.

But TEPCO plans to reactivate the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors, the two newest units, as early as fiscal 2019 after they are certified by the Nuclear Regulation Authority as meeting more stringent safety regulations put in place after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The company wants to restart the rest in stages.

Restarting the facility is crucial to the company’s bottom line as it needs to secure a treasure chest to finance the enormous cost of decommissioning the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and paying compensation to victims.

At the meeting, Sakurai expressed “strong doubts about the corporate culture that governs TEPCO.”

He referred to revelations that surfaced in February about the poor quake-resistance of an emergency response center at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. It emerged that the center was capable of withstanding less than half of the strongest shaking of a very major earthquake projected to strike the facility.

The company became aware of the startling finding when it reassessed the fitness of the emergency response center in 2014, but it did not report the matter to the NRA.

The emergency response center was completed in 2009 after the Niigata Chuetsu-oki Earthquake of 2007, in which the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant was damaged.

Considering the risks, operating seven reactors in one place is too many,” Sakurai said.

Sakurai was elected mayor for the first time in November 2016 after running on a platform of agreeing to restarts with conditions.

He envisages that the decommissioning of even one of the oldest five reactors will lead to job opportunities for local workers and promotion of local industry.

The No. 1 through No. 5 reactors went into service between 1985 and 1994.

After the meeting, the mayor told reporters that his demand for closing down the old reactors is reasonable.

The No. 1 to No. 5 reactors are old, and some of them have remained offline since the Niigata Chuetsu-oki Earthquake,” he said. “The utility will need sufficient funds to safeguard such reactors if they are reactivated. I believe it can show us a plan for decommissioning within two years.”

Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama could prove a more formidable obstacle to the plant operator.

The governor met with Kobayakawa and TEPCO’s new chairman, Takashi Kawamura, on the same day for the first time, reiterating his strong opposition to restarts.

We cannot start discussing the restart of the plant unless a review of the safety of the plant is completed,” Yoneyama said.

Although governors do not have the legal authority to stop reactor restarts, it has been a protocol to reactivate a plant after gaining their consent.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201707260037.html

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

A decade after Niigata’s nuclear close call

Tepco wants to restart reactors in Niigata to help pay for USD190 billion needed for Fukushima follies

p16-cp-a-20170716-870x530.jpgEmployees work in the central control room for the No.7 reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Holdings’ Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture in 2009.

 

On July 16, 2007, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake rattled the world’s largest nuclear power complex at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture. This was on a site that the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. had insisted was seismically safe.

Two years earlier, the Tokyo High Court had ruled against local plaintiffs backed by scientists who insisted the authorities were wrong and that there was an active fault line adjacent to the site. In 2007, Mother Nature overruled the judge, raising questions about relying on old evaluations by institutions favoring nuclear energy in assessing site safety, particularly given subsequent advancements in seismic science.

The good news is that the reactors shut down automatically and the plant withstood tectonic shocks way beyond what anyone had anticipated when designing the structures. The bad news trickled slowly out of Tepco, but an NHK special shortly afterwards aired a startling revelation. The plant manager told NHK that it was very lucky that everything worked as planned and that there was no serious accident — especially considering that the door of the control center had been jammed and nobody could get in. This meant that if there had been a crisis, nobody would have been able to manage it because the emergency controls were inaccessible.

The door was stuck because the land subsided due to the earthquake. It is hard to anticipate every contingency, and that is precisely why accidents happen. If the safety systems had not functioned as planned, Kashiwazaki might have spun out of control, but luckily it was just a close call.

Also worrisome was the transformer fire that took an age to put out because the water pipes had ruptured due to the earthquake. And why was there a nine-hour delay in informing local authorities about the situation, including some radiation leaks? Apparently the plant workers were preoccupied with setting up whiteboards in the parking lot as an improvised control center and using their mobile phones to communicate with each other. Tepco also downplayed how much radioactive water had leaked, a spill that Asahi reporters spotted workers mopping up with paper towels.

At Kashiwazaki-Kariwa there are seven reactors with an 8,200 megawatt capacity, enough for 16 million households. This clustering of reactors means that if there was an accident, it could cascade into a major disaster.

The reactors went online between 1985 and 1997 and generated $2 billion in subsidies for the hosting towns, on top of tax revenues and many high-paying jobs. But local enthusiasm has dimmed considerably since then. Back in 2001 Tepco was caught falsifying repair and maintenance data at all of its 17 reactors, suggesting that management did not nurture a culture of safety. Then, in 2005, the International Atomic Energy Agency warned that fire prevention measures at the Niigata plant were inadequate.

Niigata voters have since elected nuclear skeptics for mayor and prefectural governor. In a nationwide poll conducted by the Asahi Shimbun last October, 57 percent of the public opposed restarting nuclear reactors while only 29 percent were in favor. Earlier in 2016, a poll conducted by the pro-nuclear Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization found that 12 percent of respondents favored maintaining or increasing Japan’s nuclear energy output while nearly 63 percent wanted to end nuclear power in Japan, either by phasing it out (48 percent) or immediately pulling the plug (15 percent).

Public opposition to nuclear power is not only driven by safety concerns and the tragic fate of tens of thousands of nuclear refugees displaced from ancestral homes in Tohoku. The Fukushima disaster is also a financial black hole that will burden taxpayers and ratepayers for decades to come. And there are the high costs of decommissioning many aging reactors and the expense involved in building a site to permanently store radioactive waste.

Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama has slowed plans to restart any reactors, calling for a comprehensive safety review, development of an evacuation plan and an assessment of the Fukushima disaster’s public health impact, all of which could take three years. Tepco’s latest rehabilitation plan includes restarting two of the reactors by March 2020, saying the profits would help it pay off the staggering ¥21.5 trillion ($190 billion) bill for Fukushima, an estimate that is likely to keep rising over the next few decades.

The mayor of Kashiwazaki has also weighed in, requesting that Tepco begin decommissioning one reactor before agreeing to restart the two reactors Tepco wants to bring back online. The Nuclear Regulation Authority is currently conducting safety inspections at two of the reactors. The mayor thinks that seven reactors is too much and is worried about the safety of the control center, wondering if it is sufficiently strong to withstand a powerful quake, possibly because Tepco admitted to misleading the NRA in February about just how strong the structure is. He is hopeful that decommissioning will generate jobs and revitalize the local community.

The mayor also expressed concern about the threat of nuclear missiles from North Korea, prompting NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka to joke that Tokyo would make a better target. Funny guy.

The Fukushima debacle has already cost in excess of $100 billion and the government estimates that total will skyrocket in coming years. If only Tepco had heeded internal warnings in 2009 about the possibility of a monster tsunami striking the Fukushima No. 1 plant and built a bigger tsunami wall. That would have cost $1 billion, a bargain in retrospect. Will the ongoing trial of three Tepco executives find them responsible for this and other instances of negligence? Probably not.

And now there are five nuclear reactors operating in Japan, and soon two more in Kyushu, due to court rulings favorable to the utilities. The fate of an additional 35 operable reactors is uncertain, but the staggering costs of decommissioning many of these — so far the NRA has approved five decommissioning proposals that will cost about $10 billion raise questions about the viability of nuclear energy in Japan.

Toshiba, which is selling off its key assets to pay for its purchase of Westinghouse Electric, knows just how risky the nuclear business is, and hopefully Tepco now understands that cutting corners to save money was abysmal risk management.

Many Japanese must envy South Korea, where newly elected Prime Minister Moon Jae-in has vowed to phase out nuclear energy and cancel plans to build new plants and extend the operating life of its 25 aging reactors. In contrast, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reinstated nuclear power into the national energy strategy, targeting 20 to 22 percent of the overall mix, demonstrating the resilient influence of Japan’s “nuclear village.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2017/07/15/commentary/decade-niigatas-nuclear-close-call/#.WWqb53WlXQY.facebook

 

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

New Tepco chief reaffirms Fukushima commitment, but underscored need for plant restarts

b-tepco-a-20170624-870x691Tomoaki Kobayakawa

 

Dealing with the aftermath of nuclear disaster at Fukushima No.1 power plant remains the most important mission for Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., Tomoaki Kobayakawa, Tepco’s new president, said Friday, but he also stressed the need to restart nuclear plants for the sake of continuing the utility’s business.

To fulfill responsibilities over (disaster in) Fukushima is the fundamental (policy) for our company, and that will never change at all,” Kobayakawa, the former chief of the Tepco’s electricity retail arm, said at a news conference at the firm’s headquarters in Tokyo.

Kobayakawa officially took the helm as head of the ailing power giant after the reshuffle of top management was approved at a shareholder’s meeting earlier on Friday.

Struggling financially amid ballooning costs for dealing with the aftermath of the nuclear accident caused by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011, Tepco is effectively under control of the state with the state-backed Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. holding the majority of its shares.

Ten of 13 board directors were replaced with new members, including honorary chairman of Hitachi Ltd. Takashi Kawamura. Kawamura was appointed the new chairman to back Kobayakawa.

Under the new board, Tepco will proceed with the new revitalization program it mapped out in May. The plan includes reactivating Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, so as to make up for the estimated ¥22 trillion cost of dealing with damage, including decommissioning of Fukushima No.1 and compensation for disaster-hit areas.

I believe securing safety and gaining the understanding of local people are our utmost priorities” in order to reactivate the nuclear plant, Kobayakawa said.

In October 2016 in the Niigata gubernatorial election, voters elected doctor and lawyer Ryuichi Yoneyama, whose anti-nuclear stance is firmly against any restart of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, over a pro-nuclear candidate from the Liberal Democratic Party.

At the shareholder’s meeting in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward earlier Friday, which was attended by about 1,200 people, some expressed diverse opinions on the company’s intention to restart nuclear power plants.

One suggested that restarting a nuclear power plant could be a “ray of hope” that stands as the symbol of recovery from the disaster, while another claimed Tepco’s financial recovery will “never be possible” without reactivating ceased plants.

Others were concerned about the firm’s plan to continue its nuclear power business.

One shareholder called the proposed restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant as “a long-shot gamble” repeatedly saying that the Niigata plant is “good-for-nothing”, and that it has only caused the utility to incur costs of ¥680 billion for safety measures.

Another shareholder urged the utility to abandon its plan to reactivate Fukushima No.2 and Kariyazaki-Kariwa, and open them for engineers worldwide to use as research centers for decommissioning technologies.

These proposals were turned down at the end of the three-hour meeting after facing opposition from board members.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/23/business/corporate-business/new-tepco-chief-reaffirms-fukushima-commitment-underscored-need-plant-restarts/

June 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Incoming Tepco chief vows decision on whether to scrap Fukushima No. 2

b-tepcohed-a-20170616-870x825.jpg

The incoming president of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. has expressed eagerness to accelerate moves for tie-ups with other companies in an effort to revive its business following the meltdowns at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex in 2011.

Capital strength is important to seriously embark on growth businesses,” Tomoaki Kobayakawa, the head of Tokyo Energy Partner Inc., Tepco’s electricity retail arm, said in a recent interview. The 53-year-old is set to assume the post of president on June 23.

His remarks were in line with Tepco’s new business turnaround plan announced on March 22, in which it said it aims to realign and integrate its nuclear and power transmission and distribution businesses with other utilities to improve profitability.

The company, burdened with massive costs stemming from the Fukushima disaster, was placed under effective state control in exchange for a ¥1 trillion ($9 billion) capital injection in 2012.

Compensation and disaster cleanup costs have continued to rise, with the latest estimate reaching ¥22 trillion — twice the sum expected earlier.

Kobayakawa said JERA Co., a joint venture of a Tepco unit and Chubu Electric Power Co. in the area of coal power generation, is a “good example” of a tie-up, as enlarged capital has allowed it “to move powerfully.”

He said the power transmission and distribution businesses will also “produce outcomes if we can (align with other companies) and cover a wide network.”

I want to make more and more proposals,” he said, pointing to the possibility of forming alliances with businesses overseas, given that domestic demand for electricity is on the decline.

On the resumption of nuclear power generation, Kobayakawa expressed his intention to respect the view of local municipalities in restarting reactors 6 and 7 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast.

Masahiro Sakurai, the mayor of Kashiwazaki, the city that hosts the nuclear plant along with the neighboring town of Kariwa, has said that the decommissioning of one of reactors 1 to 5 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant would be a condition for the restart of reactors 6 and 7.

I haven’t met (the mayor) in person. I would like to confirm his intention,” Kobayakawa said.

Kobayakawa also reiterated the company’s position that it will decide “comprehensively” on whether the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant, located around 12 km south of the crippled Fukushima No. 1, would be scrapped as the prefectural government has urged the decommissioning of the plant.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/15/business/corporate-business/incoming-tepco-chief-eager-tie-ups-raise-funds-vows-decision-whether-scrap-fukushima-no-2/#.WUKt5zdpzrc

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Mayor to link reactor decommissioning to restarting 2 others at same TEPCO plant

serveimage.jpg

 

KASHIWAZAKI, Niigata — The mayor of this city, home to the idled Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, said he intends to demand at least one of five reactors at the plant be decommissioned as a precondition for restarting two others.

“I’m not assuming that all seven reactors will be in operation,” Mayor Masahiro Sakurai told a regular news conference on June 1.

This is the first time that the mayor has mentioned specifically the possible decommissioning of reactors at the power station.

Mayor Sakurai said, “There are growing worries for local residents,” citing the insufficient strength of the power station’s special quake-proof building that will serve as a headquarters in the event of an emergency and North Korea’s firing of missiles.

Sakurai suggested it is inevitable to scale down the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. “Considering the Fukushima nuclear accident, seven reactors are too many,” he said.

At the same time, the mayor emphasized that he does not intend to demand that all of the No. 1 to 5 reactors at the plant be shut down as a precondition for reactivating the No. 6 and 7 units, for which the Nuclear Regulation Authority is conducting safety inspections.

He said he will offer to leave a decision on which reactors will be decommissioned to plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and the national government, and urged these entities to present a decommissioning plan within two years.

Mayor Sakurai also said he believes that businesses related to the reactor decommissioning will help revitalize the local economy.

In response to the mayor’s comments, a TEPCO official said, “We haven’t heard anything directly from the Kashiwazaki Municipal Government. We’d like to continue to listen to their opinions on us.”

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170602/p2a/00m/0na/002000c

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Niigata governor dashes TEPCO’s hopes for reactor restarts in 2019

uguhgjkmll.jpgTokyo Electric Power Co. President Naomi Hirose, left, hands a report to Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama at the prefectural government office in Niigata on April 19.

NIIGATA–Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama said a longer period may be needed to verify safety at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, destroying Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s schedule to restart reactors there.

Yoneyama announced the possible extension of the safety-confirmation period, which he had earlier put at three or four years, at a news conference on April 19 after his meeting with TEPCO President Naomi Hirose here.

The governor said it will take time to confirm that the nuclear plant can withstand major earthquakes, especially a building that is expected to serve as the headquarters in the event of a severe accident at the site.

Only after safety is confirmed can discussions begin on restarting the nuclear plant in the prefecture, Yoneyama said.

Under TEPCO’s reconstruction plan currently being worked out, operations at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, one of the largest in the world, will resume in April 2019 at the earliest.

However, TEPCO needs the prefectural government’s consent to restart reactors, and Yoneyama’s words show that the utility’s plan will be impossible to achieve.

TEPCO in 2014 became aware that the headquarters building at the plant was insufficient in terms of earthquake resistance. But the company failed to disclose the shortcomings and maintained its policy of using the building as a disaster headquarters.

The deficiencies of the building came to light in February this year.

Hirose visited the Niigata prefectural government office on April 19 to explain to Yoneyama the issue of the insufficient anti-quake capabilities at the plant’s building.

He acknowledged problems in the mindset of his employees.

They had a tendency to put priority on the benefits of their own company,” Hirose told the governor.

As for the time needed to confirm safety at the nuclear plant, Yoneyama told Hirose, “The period could become longer depending on the circumstances.”

The prefectural government plans to set up a committee in June at the earliest to verify safety at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

I don’t think nuclear power plants are indispensable for the economies of Japan and Niigata Prefecture,” Yoneyama said at the news conference after his meeting with Hirose.

The reactor restarts, however, may be crucial for TEPCO’s finances.

The company needs to secure 500 billion yen (about $4.6 billion) every year for 30 years to decommission the reactors at its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and pay compensation to those who evacuated after the disaster unfolded in March 2011.

Resumed operations of two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant could provide 100 billion yen a year for TEPCO.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201704200028.html

April 20, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment