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Reactor at Saga’s Genkai nuclear plant back online after seven-year hiatus

To have a nuclear plant running in an earthquake prone area is equivalent already to a death wish. To have that nuclear plant running on MOX is equivalent to a double death wish.
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A protester holds up a sign saying ‘Let’s create a society without nuclear power plants!’ in front of the Genkai plant in Genkai, Saga Prefecture, on Friday as its No. 3 reactor was put back online.
 
SAGA – A nuclear reactor at the Genkai power plant in Saga Prefecture resumed operation Friday for the first time in over seven years, despite lingering concerns from residents about evacuation plans from nearby islets in the event of a serious accident.
 
Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s No. 3 unit at the plant was halted for a regular inspection in December 2010, three months before a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered a crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
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The reactor cleared a safety screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority in January 2017 under stricter, post-Fukushima crisis regulations and was later approved for reactivation by the Genkai Municipal Government and Saga Prefectural Government. It became the seventh reactor in the nation to restart under the tougher regulations.
 
The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which views nuclear power as an “important base-load power source,” is promoting the restart of reactors considered safe by the regulator.
 
Local residents, particularly those living on 17 islands within 30 kilometers of the Genkai plant, are concerned about how to evacuate in the event of an accident, as there are no bridges connecting the islets with the main island of Kyushu.
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Industry minister Hiroshige Seko welcomed the resumption saying, “(The restart) holds significance from the point of promoting so-called pluthermal power generation and recycling nuclear fuel.”
 
The Genkai plant’s No. 3 reactor generates power using mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel, which is created from plutonium and uranium extracted from spent fuel.
 
Early Friday, a group of about 100 citizens gathered in front of the Genkai plant, protesting against the resumption and calling for the shutdown of all nuclear plants in Japan.
 
Chuji Nakayama, a 70-year-old man who lives on Iki Island in Nagasaki Prefecture, within a roughly 30-km radius of the plant, expressed anger, saying, “How can islanders escape if an accident occurs?”
 
Kenichi Arakawa, the deputy chief of an anti-nuclear group who lives in Munakata, Fukuoka Prefecture, said, “An accident could deprive nearby residents of everything in their lives. We should not operate a nuclear plant that threatens our lives.”
 
In contrast, a 70-year-old man from the town of Genkai said, “The town will finally become vibrant again because the nuclear plant helped set up roads and create jobs while bringing in more people.”
 
Kyushu Electric plans to start commercial operation of the No. 3 unit in late April. It is the third reactor reactivated by the utility, following the Nos. 1 and 2 units at the Sendai complex in Kagoshima Prefecture, which came back online in 2015.
 
The operator also plans to restart the No. 4 unit at the Genkai plant in May, after that unit passed an NRA safety assessment in January 2017.
 
Nuclear reactor in southwestern Japan back online after 7-yr hiatus
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March 25, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Reprocessed nuclear fuel returned to Japan for reactor use

Japan has learned absolutely nothing from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster. This is not going to end well!

This is a mouthful, read this:

“Nuclear fuel reprocessed in France returned to Japan on Thursday for use in a reactor as the country tries to burn more plutonium amid international concerns about its stockpile.”

“The need to reduce its plutonium stockpile adds to Japan’s push to restart reactors, aside from also needing to generate power. It would require 16 to 18 reactors to burn MOX to keep Japan’s plutonium stockpile from growing when the Rokkasho plant starts up, according to government and utility officials.”

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TOKYO- Nuclear fuel reprocessed in France returned to Japan on Thursday for use in a reactor as the country tries to burn more plutonium amid international concerns about its stockpile.

Kansai Electric Power Co said the shipment arrived for use at the No. 4 reactor at its Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture. The reactor is one of only five reactors currently operating in Japan.

A specialized ship, the Pacific Egret, was seen docked just outside one plant as the heavily protected shipment was brought inside under extremely tight security. The utility said it cannot provide details such as the amount of the fuel. The new fuel is expected to be loaded after the reactor’s regular safety check planned next year.

Japan has a stockpile of 47 tons of plutonium – 10 tons at home and the rest in Britain and France, which reprocess and store spent fuel for Japan as the country still lacks its own capacity to do so. Experts say the amount could be enough to make thousands of atomic bombs, although utility operators deny such risk, saying the material is stored safely and monitored constantly.

Japan plans to start up its Rokkasho reprocessing plant next year, but critics say that would only add to the stockpile problem and nuclear security concerns.

Without the prospect of achieving a plutonium-burning fast reactor in near future, Japan has resorted to burning MOX, a mixture of plutonium and uranium fuel, in conventional reactors.

The need to reduce its plutonium stockpile adds to Japan’s push to restart reactors, aside from also needing to generate power. It would require 16 to 18 reactors to burn MOX to keep Japan’s plutonium stockpile from growing when the Rokkasho plant starts up, according to government and utility officials.

Only three reactors, including two at Takahama, use MOX, with a fourth one expected to start up next year. Restarts come slowly amid persistent ant-nuclear sentiment among the public since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident and stricter standards under the post-Fukushima safety requirement.

https://japantoday.com/category/national/reprocessed-nuclear-fuel-returned-to-japan-for-reactor-use

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fears grow as Takahama reactors near restart

Furthermore those reactors in case of nuclear accident are much more dangerous because they are using  the MOX fuel, with contains lethal plutonium added to uranium.

OSAKA – As two aging reactors in the town of Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, move toward restart, safety concerns are growing in neighboring prefectures and municipalities within 30 km of the plant.

Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama No. 1 and 2 reactors are over 40 years old, but the utility has applied for a 20-year extension. On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority officially gave the reactors the green light, signaling they meet the fundamental safety standards needed for reactivation.

Although additional tests and inspections are needed before the reactors can resume operation, the potential first-ever restart of two units that are more than four decades old has neighboring communities worried.

The Sea of Japan coastal city of Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, parts of which lie 5 km from Takahama, would be on the front lines of any disaster response in the event of an accident, and Mayor Ryozo Tatami expressed specific concerns Wednesday.

“At present, has the safety of the plant been confirmed? We need scientific and technological explanations. The No. 1 and 2 reactors were envisioned and constructed to operate for 40 years,” Tatami said. “We also need documentation from when the plant was originally built that proves it’s possible to operate the reactor for 60 years, especially since the core cannot be replaced.”

Caution by Tatami in particular over restarting Takahama Nos. 1 and 2 could impact the stance of other Kansai leaders.

A small part of northern Shiga Prefecture lies within 30 km of Takahama, and Gov. Taizo Mikazuki expressed concern this week about running old reactors that could leak radiation into Lake Biwa, as well as the problem of storing additional nuclear waste generated by the reactors.

While gaining approval for restarts from heavily pro-nuclear Takahama and Fukui Prefecture is expected to be relatively easy, Kepco is certain to face calls from other Kansai-area prefectures to provide detailed explanations of why it needs to restart two aging reactors before permission for their restart is given.

It is also likely to face questions about whether the utility and NRA are cutting corners in order to make the July 7 deadline for formal permission to restart. If that deadline is missed, the reactors are supposed to be scrapped.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/21/national/fears-grow-takahama-reactors-near-restart/#.VxkemFCvirW

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan doles out over ¥16 billion in subsidies for slow-moving MOX projects

The government has used taxpayer money to provide over ¥16.2 billion in subsidies to local governments for promoting so-called pluthermal power generation using mixed oxide fuel (MOX), a survey has shown.
The subsidies, financed with revenue from a tax for power-resources development imposed on electricity users, have been distributed to local governments that accepted pluthermal power generation at facilities in their regions.
The Jiji Press survey released Saturday illustrates that a large amount of taxpayers’ money has been spent on the pluthermal project in order to win support from local governments.
The project, a key part of the country’s nuclear fuel cycle policy, uses MOX fuel, a mixture of uranium and plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel.
So far, just four reactors in Japan have used MOX fuel, including reactor 2 at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The reactor, set to be decommissioned, experienced a core meltdown after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan hopes to eventually raise the nation’s total number of reactors carrying out pluthermal generation to somewhere between 16 and 18.
However, pluthermal projects have failed to progress as expected, prompting critics to urge the central government to conduct an immediate review of its policy.
The other three reactors that have run on MOX fuel are the No. 3 reactor at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture, the No. 3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture and the No. 3 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture. The Takahama plant reactor is set to be rebooted later this month using MOX fuel.
The survey found that seven of the nine prefectural governments and all of the 10 other municipalities entitled to the subsidies — one to promote the fuel-cycle policy and the other to support host municipalities — have actually received the payments.
The exceptions, Hokkaido and Shizuoka prefecture, have refrained from applying for the subsidies. While the Fukushima disaster has spurred safety concerns among citizens, a series of scandals — including attempts to influence public opinion — in favor of pluthermal projects — have eroded trust in the plan, sources said.
In Hokkaido, the No. 3 reactor at Hokkaido Electric Co.’s Tomari plant has been designated for pluthermal power generation. In Shizuoka Prefecture, the No. 4 reactor at Chubu Electric Power Co.’s Hamaoka plant has also been tapped for the pluthermal project.
Of the four prefectures where pluthermal generation has been carried out, Saga received ¥6.097 billion in state subsidies and Ehime was given a total of ¥6.059 billion by the end of fiscal 2014.
Fukui, meanwhile, has received ¥2.486 billion as of the end of 2013 and is expected to get more subsidies through fiscal 2015.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/01/24/national/science-health/japan-doles-%C2%A516-billion-subsidies-slow-moving-mox-projects/#.VqWY9FLzN_n

January 25, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | 2 Comments