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NRA delays easing reactor rules after one expert objects

Akira Ishiwatari, a commissioner of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, raises opposition to the government’s plan to ease safety regulations for reactors at a meeting on Feb. 8.

February 9, 2023

A Nuclear Regulation Authority panel member objected to the government’s draft policy to lift the 40-year cap on the lifespan of nuclear reactors, forcing official approval to be delayed. 

Akira Ishiwatari, one of the five members of the NRA, said at a Feb. 8 meeting that dropping the restriction on reactors’ operation periods at 40 years, in principle, and a maximum 60 years from the nuclear reactor regulation law, is not a “change to make them safer.”

Ishiwatari, a former professor of geology at Tohoku University and head of the Geological Society of Japan, is tasked with studying plant operators’ measures to safeguard reactors from earthquakes and tsunami. He has been on the NRA since 2014.

Under the more stringent reactor regulations introduced in 2013 following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the life of a reactor was limited to 40 years, in principle, to enhance the safety of nuclear facilities. But it can operate 20 more years, including the period when they were shut down for safety checks or court injunctions, if found safe to do so by the NRA.

The Kishida administration compiled a plan to ease the rules last month that would allow reactors to serve beyond the maximum 60-year limit by excluding the time when they were offline.

For example, the lifespan of a reactor that remained idle for 10 years would be extended to 70 years in total.

Ishiwatari noted that some reactors have been shut down for many years due to the NRA’s prolonged safety examinations for their restart.

But he expressed concern that excluding the shutdown period from the maximum 60-year rule would lead to the activation of more aged units.

With his objection, NRA Chairman Shinsuke Yamanaka decided to postpone the panel’s approval of the government policy for more discussion on the issue. 

A majority of the public opposes the easing of the reactor restrictions.

At the NRA meeting, it was reported that most of the 2,016 opinions received from the public over the government plan were critical.

Still, the NRA initially planned to back the government policy to remove the cap and install a system that would require a reactor to undergo safety checks in under every decade once it reaches 30 years in service.


February 13, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Regulatory Commissioners object to proposed new rules for nuclear power plant regulation

Akira Ishiwata, a member of the Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan (NRAJ), expresses his opposition to the draft of new safety regulation rules for nuclear power plants.

February 9, 2023
At the February 8 meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), committee members voiced their opposition to the draft framework for new safety regulation rules, which would require safety inspections at intervals of no more than 10 years starting from 30 years of operation. The committee members decided not to make a formal decision on that day, and will discuss the issue again next week or later.

 Since the end of last year, the Regulatory Commission has been conducting “public comments” to gather opinions from the public on the draft framework. At the meeting, it was reported that 2016 comments had been received, many of which were opposed to the 40-year operation period stipulated in the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law, but the committee decided that no revisions to the draft were necessary and decided to proceed with the decision as originally proposed.

Regulatory Commission is in the forefront of extending the operation of nuclear power plants.

 In response, Akira Ishiwata, a member of the committee in charge of the earthquake and tsunami review, stated, “I am opposed to this proposal,” citing two main reasons.

 The first is that the stipulation of an operating period will be removed from the Reactor Regulation Law, which is under the jurisdiction of the Regulatory Commission.

 Mr. Ishiwata said, “The mission of the Nuclear Regulation Commission is to protect people and the environment based on scientific and technical findings. This change is not about changing the law based on some new findings. Dropping the operation period from the law (Reactor Regulation Law) is not an alteration to the safety side,” he said.

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Proposal to operate nuclear power plants for more than 60 years “cannot be considered a change to the safe side”; Regulatory Commission postpones formal decision due to unusual opposition

February 9, 2023
At its regular meeting on February 8, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission discussed whether to make a formal decision on a new regulatory system for nuclear power plants to operate beyond 60 years, but it decided not to do so due to opposition from Akira Ishiwata, who stated that the proposal “cannot be considered an alteration to the safe side. The matter will be discussed again at the regular meeting next week. It is extremely unusual for the regulatory commission to be divided on such an important matter. (Kenta Onozawa)

◆Public comments: Most oppose the review

The new draft regulation will review the deterioration status of nuclear power plants every 10 years or less, starting 30 years after the start of operation, and if the plant complies with the regulatory standards, the extension of operation will be approved. The proposal was unanimously approved at the regular meeting held last December. On the day of the meeting, the final draft was discussed based on the results of public comments received from the public.
 The majority of the 2016 comments received from the public were against the review of the system, but the secretariat of the Regulatory Commission consulted with the regular meeting on whether to make a formal decision on the draft without changing the content of the draft regulation. Of the five committee members, four, including Chairman Shinsuke Yamanaka, voted in favor of the draft, while Commissioner Ishiwata expressed his opposition. Chairman Yamanaka stated that he would not make a decision by majority vote, but would discuss the matter again together with the proposed amendment to the article of the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law (Reactor Regulation Law) that stipulates the operation period.
 At a press conference following the regular meeting, Chairman Yamanaka said, “I think there is a misunderstanding (among Commissioner Ishiwata). I don’t think it is a problem that there are opposing opinions. I would like to deepen the discussion among the committee members.
 Last December, the government decided to allow nuclear power plants to operate for more than 60 years by excluding from the number of years of operation the period during which the plants were shut down for restart examinations and judicial decisions. It aims to submit a draft amendment to related laws to the current Diet session. The current provisions in the Reactor Regulation Law regarding the period of operation, which is “40 years in principle, with a maximum of 60 years,” are expected to be deleted and redefined in the Electricity Business Law under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

◆”Aging nuclear power plants will be operated in the future,” said Akira Ishiwata, a member of the committee.

I am against this proposal. Akira Ishiwatari, a member of the committee, stated his opposition in a firm tone toward the end of the meeting.
This change is not based on new scientific findings. It is not a change for the sake of safety, because the law will drop the period of operation. There is no need for us to amend the law voluntarily.
 A geological expert, he has served as a professor at Tohoku University and as a member of the committee since 2014. When it was discovered that geological data had been rewritten during the review of the Tsuruga No. 2 reactor at the Japan Atomic Power Company’s Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture, he proposed that the review be suspended. When the secretariat of the Regulatory Commission proposed last November that the Commission hear opinions from electric power companies on the proposed new regulations, he opposed the proposal, saying that it was too early to make a decision. Discussions were postponed.
 Under the new government policy, the period of shutdown due to the review will be excluded from the number of years of operation. In most cases, the 10 units currently under review have been delayed due to inadequate explanations from the power companies. Commissioner Ishiwata, who is in charge of the examination of earthquake and tsunami countermeasures, said, “We are not unnecessarily prolonging the examination, but unfortunately it is taking a long time. The longer the review takes, the longer the operation period will be, and the older (aged) nuclear power plants will be in operation in the future.
 He expressed strong concern that the more difficult the review process becomes, the more likely it is to encourage the operation of aging nuclear power plants. At the meeting, Chairman Yamanaka explained that “this is a mechanism to ensure that regulations can be implemented no matter what the operating period is like,” but Commissioner Ishiwata did not back down, saying, “My thoughts are as I have stated.

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Confusion to the public” and “embarrassing expressions”…Nuclear Regulation Commission blacked out documents provided by METI, which were not made public

Three internal review documents of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), which are conspicuously blacked out, in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on March 3.

February 3, 2023
On February 3, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), the secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), released documents on its review process in response to the issue of undisclosed information exchange between the NRA and officials of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) over the review of nuclear power plant operation periods. The Agency did not disclose any of the materials it had provided to the Regulation Authority, and most of the internal review materials were “blacked out” with only three pages. The Agency’s backward-looking attitude toward information disclosure was conspicuous, and it was not clear whether the views of the Agency, which promotes nuclear power generation, had any influence on the regulatory system.
◆The Regulatory Agency reiterated that it had “exhausted all necessary explanations.
 What was made public was the status of internal studies at the Regulatory Agency for reviewing the operating period, which was stipulated to be “40 years in principle, with a maximum of 60 years. Although the Regulatory Agency received from the Ene Agency an imaginary diagram of the revision of the law and other materials, it did not disclose any of the materials prepared by the Ene Agency, saying that the Ene Agency, the preparer, should decide whether or not to disclose the information.
Although the Regulatory Agency’s internal study materials were believed to envision multiple patterns of legal revision related to the operation period and describe the advantages and challenges of each, the majority of the materials were not disclosed. At the press conference, Yoichiro Kurokawa, director of the Regulatory Agency’s General Affairs Division, explained, “The documents contain the views of the person who prepared them and are far removed from the views of the organization, so disclosing them would cause confusion among the public.
 When asked by the media about the content of the blacked-out section, Mr. Kurokawa stated that in the section on the advantages of the proposed amendment of the articles to the minimum necessary, it was stated that “on the surface of the text, it looks almost unchanged,” and added, “In the first place, since we are changing the regulations for the operation period, it is inappropriate to say that ‘almost unchanged’ is the case. There were expressions that seemed embarrassing, and we determined that it was not appropriate to disclose them.”
 At the press conference, a number of people pointed out that the disclosure was insufficient, but Section Chief Kurokawa reiterated that “we have done all the necessary explanations.
 Before the Regulatory Commission ordered a review of the regulatory system regarding the operation period in October of last year, the Regulatory Agency had met with EneAgency officials at least seven times between July and September to exchange information. (Nozomi Masui)

February 4, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

JNFL’s application for examination of a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant was criticized by the Regulatory Commission for “lacking a sense of urgency”

JNFL Senior Managing Executive Officer Rei Sudo (left) and others explain at the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s review meeting in Minato-ku, Tokyo.

November 22, 2022
JNFL found multiple errors in the seismic calculation results of the application it submitted to the Nuclear Regulation Authority during the examination required for the operation of its reprocessing plant for spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants in Rokkasho Village, Aomori Prefecture. The errors were discovered when the Nuclear Regulation Commission pointed them out to JNFL. Even two years after the application was submitted, NNFL continues to reveal its inadequacies, and there is no prospect that the review will be completed.
 The errors were in the results of seismic calculations for the cooling tower fire detectors, which NNFL submitted on November 8 in the form of an amendment to its application. According to NNFL, when the results of the seismic calculations were transcribed into the application, incorrect values were entered in several places. Although the documents were checked before submission, the mistake was not noticed. The cause of the error has not been disclosed, saying that it is under investigation. The correction will be corrected and resubmitted in the future.
 According to the secretariat of the regulatory commission, the error in the calculation results was so simple that a person with expert knowledge would be able to recognize it at a glance.
At the review meeting held on March 15, the person in charge at the secretariat of the regulatory commission commented, “In the review of facility design, making a mistake in numerical values is a definite and serious problem,” and “It is the most rudimentary of rudiments. Why don’t they notice it? Why don’t they realize this? They have no sense of crisis at all. Rei Sudo, executive vice president of Nenryo, who is in charge of handling the review, simply stated, “This is something that really shouldn’t happen. We take this very seriously.
 The reprocessing plant, a core facility under the government’s nuclear fuel cycle policy, met the new regulatory standards for basic accident countermeasures in July 2020, and in December of the same year, JNFL applied for a review of detailed facility designs and construction plans. However, there has been no significant progress since the application stage due to inadequate explanations from NNFL.
 In September of this year, NNFL announced for the 26th time that it was postponing the completion of the plant due to the difficulties encountered in the review process. The company plans to announce the next target date for completion by the end of this year, but the examination process will inevitably become even more difficult due to the discovery of numerical errors. (Kenta Onozawa)

November 27, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan looks to finalize nuclear reactor service extension by year-end

This Feb. 13, 2021 photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefectur

November 8, 2022

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s industry ministry is considering extending the lifespan of nuclear reactors to beyond the current 60 years with ambitions to finalize the plan by the end of the year, in a bid to cut carbon emissions and ensure stable energy supplies threatened by Russia’s war in Ukraine, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is looking to extend the number of years nuclear power stations can remain open by considering screening periods, necessary for stricter plant safety operations, as separate from the total service life, which could allow nuclear reactors to operate for longer. During safety checks, the nuclear plants are not operational.

A ministry panel is set to discuss extending the service life of the nuclear power stations in such a way as a main scenario among other options, with plans to finalize their decision by the end of the year, the sources said.

Under the current safety rules, the Nuclear Regulation Authority limits nuclear reactors’ service period to 40 years in principle. If approved by the regulatory body however, the period can be extended by up to 20 years.

The panel will also look at scrapping the 60-year lifespan, as well as maintaining the current rules as two alternative options, in case the proposal is found not to be viable.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in August that Japan will push ahead with the use of nuclear power, citing the plan as an option to achieve net-zero emissions and secure a stable electricity supply.

Japan relies heavily on fossil fuel imports for power generation, with its energy self-sufficiency rate standing at 12.1 percent as of fiscal 2019, lower than many other developed countries.

Nuclear power plant operators must pass the tougher regulations to restart their reactors after a nationwide halt which occurred after the Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011, which was caused by a massive earthquake and tsunami. Only a handful of reactors in Japan have since resumed operations, while the public remains concerned over their safety.

Some utilities face prolonged screening processes by the NRA. More than nine years have passed since the safety examinations of Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari nuclear power plant began, for example.

The electric power industry has urged more than 60 years of service will be safe provided appropriate maintenance operations are guaranteed.

The safety watchdog proposed earlier this month that the safety of nuclear plants aged 30 years or older, regardless of whether a reactor lifespan is extended, be checked at least once a decade to obtain approval for their continued operation.

November 11, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

NRA risks losing its reputation as neutral nuclear watchdog body

Members of the Nuclear Regulation Authority hold a meeting Nov. 2 in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.

November 5, 2022

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has started working on legal revisions to effectively eliminate the limit on the operational life span of nuclear reactors.

The NRA appears to be responding to growing calls for the “revival” of nuclear power generation within the government and the business community. The NRA was set up as a highly independent nuclear safety watchdog in line with lessons gleaned from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. It should not forget its original mission.

The legal life span of a nuclear reactor is 40 years in principle but can be extended to 60 years at a maximum.

But the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), acting at Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s behest, has proposed increasing the life span of reactors. Acting in tandem with the government’s move, the NRA instructed its Secretariat, a government agency, to review the current rules.

In a recent meeting on this issue, the NRA Secretariat presented a proposal which would require reactors that have been in service for 30 years to undergo inspections for signs of degradation at intervals of 10 years or less to win permission for continued operation. As long as they keep passing these periodical inspections, they can run beyond the 60-year limit.

The NRA is expected to work out, possibly by the end of the year, an outline of a draft revision of the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law for the extended operations of nuclear plants.

The 40-year cap was a rule established under a bipartisan agreement reached through Diet debate that focused on the bitter lessons from the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011. This rule, along with the suspension of new construction and expansion of nuclear power plants, played an important role in reducing the nation’s dependence on atomic energy, a policy goal adopted by the government. The rule must not be changed without national debate after only 10 years.

The NRA argues that whether to extend the legal life of reactors is a policy decision concerning the use of nuclear power that is outside its mandate. That means the NRA’s mandate is to ensure proper regulations of nuclear power generation according to the government’s policy.

At a glance, this position appears to be based on the principle of the separation of nuclear safety regulation from the government’s policy to promote nuclear power generation. But it is, in effect, regulation in line with promotion.

Nuclear power plants inevitably wear down over time. There are many plant parts that were not designed to be replaced. As the initial design philosophy for reactors has become outdated, the risk of unexpected problems and malfunctions increases. The 40-year rule was partly aimed at avoiding such unclear and unpredictable risks.

Extended life spans will inevitably increase the burden of inspections and raise the cost of electricity generated by aging reactors due to costs incurred by taking the necessary measures to pass inspections. This also raises questions about whether extended operations of reactors will make economic sense.

The NRA claims the regulations for reactors that have run for 30 years or longer would become “far more rigorous than now” under the proposed change. Some NRA experts have said the new system should make it harder for older reactors to pass inspections. Others have pointed out the importance of responding to the risks posed by natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions.

But the specifics of the new regulations and operational rules remain unclear. The ongoing policy debate on the issue, clearly driven by arguments for promoting nuclear power, raises doubts about whether the government could develop a new regulatory system that can win the support of the residents and administrations of host communities and the public as a whole.

To prevent another nuclear tragedy, it is vital for the NRA to remain solidly committed to maintaining its independence. Serious doubt about its independence would deliver a huge blow to its credibility with society.

If its independence is undermined, the NRA might be unable to resist future political pressure for relaxing the safety regulations or safety inspections of aged and risky reactors.

The NRA must realize that the situation poses a critical test of its commitment to its core mission as the nuclear safety watchdog.

November 7, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan set to extend maximum lifespan of nuclear plants beyond 60 yrs

Nuclear I love you forever. Despite of the still ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Japanese government is still in love with nuclear….

Shinsuke Yamanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, speaks at a press conference in Tokyo on Oct. 5, 2022.

Oct 5, 2022

The head of Japan’s nuclear regulator said Wednesday a rule that limits the operating life of nuclear power plants to a maximum of 60 years is expected to be removed from the country’s regulations.

The possible change is in line with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s goal of extending the lifespan to reduce carbon emissions and provide a stable electricity supply. Still, public concern over the safety of nuclear facilities is deep-seated in Japan following the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

“We can assure you that strict regulations will never be compromised,” Shinsuke Yamanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, said at a press conference.

Following the nuclear crisis triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami, Japan introduced stringent safety standards limiting nuclear reactors’ service period to 40 years in principle.

However, that period can be extended once by 20 years if safety upgrades are made and a reactor passes the regulation authority’s screening.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Wednesday it would determine the plants’ operational service per a regulation under its jurisdiction, and its plan was approved by the regulatory body.

The NRA plans to create a system to ensure each aging nuclear power plant’s safety.

October 8, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

New head of nuclear regulator vows to maintain ‘transparency’.

Shinsuke Yamanaka, new chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, addresses the media during his inaugural news conference in Tokyo on Sept. 26.

September 27, 2022

The new chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority vowed to maintain “independence and transparency” as the government agency performs its watchdog role over Japan’s nuclear industry. 

Shinsuke Yamanaka, 66, an expert on nuclear material science, took the helm of the NRA on Sept. 26.

“I will never forget the Fukushima nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant,” he said at a news conference. “With this resolve, I remain committed to the NRA’s policy to regulate the nuclear industry while steadfastly maintaining independence and transparency.”

The appointment of Yamanaka, who has been an NRA commissioner since 2017, comes as the administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida seeks a return to more reliance on nuclear energy. It is the first such move since the 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant.

The administration is considering building nuclear plants and new reactors to replace aged ones, something the industry ministry and nuclear industry have pushed for years.

Yamanaka pledged that the NRA will continue to remain neutral.

“The NRA should sincerely carry out its duties while keeping in mind that the safety of nuclear energy is never a guarantee,” he said. 

On the NRA’s prolonged examinations of reactors to assess if they meet the new reactor safety regulations, Yamanaka said his agency will be open to measures to help speed the process.

“Our basic stance is to conduct strict inspections, but we are willing to take measures to expedite the regulation procedures and improve communications between us and nuclear plant operators,” he said. 

Japan hosted 54 commercial reactors before the Fukushima nuclear accident. Of these, 27 reactor operators had applied for restarts under the more stringent reactor regulations that went into force in 2013. Only 10 have gone back online so far, however, as the NRA examinations continue.

Yamanaka also cited three things he wants to focus on in the coming years: strengthening the NRA’s ability to disseminate information, having a field-oriented approach and developing human resources.

Before joining the NRA, he did fuel safety research related to severe nuclear reactor accident at Osaka University.

Yamanaka’s term will run until September 2027. He replaced Toyoshi Fuketa, who finished his term as the second chairman of the NRA, which was established in 2012.

The same day, Tomoyuki Sugiyama, who specializes in reactor safety, joined the NRA as one of four commissioners.

Sugiyama had researched reactor safety at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Safety Research Center.

October 1, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Examination of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant for discharge of treated water to be finished; Regulatory Commission to solicit public opinion in May.

April 15, 2022
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) held a meeting on April 15 to review TEPCO’s application for an implementation plan to discharge contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean after purification and treatment, and accepted TEPCO’s explanation. The discussion at the review meeting is over, and the NRA will prepare a draft review document summarizing the details of the review by the end of May, and begin the procedures for approval.
One Year After the Decision to Discharge Treated Water into the Sea, the Gulf Between the Government and Fishermen Remains Unbridgeable, and the Sense of Distrust in TEPCO Has Not Changed
 In December of last year, TEPCO applied to the Regulatory Commission for a review of its implementation plan, which outlines the design of the facilities, the method of discharge, and the impact on the environment and people after the discharge. So far, 15 review meetings have been held, and discussions have ended without any major changes to the plan.
 After compiling a draft of the review report, the Regulatory Commission will solicit opinions (public comments) from the public for 30 days before deciding whether to approve the plan. Normally, the review of an implementation plan is closed to the public and no public comments are solicited, but the committee took an unusual step.
 The approval of Fukushima Prefecture, Okuma Town, and Futaba Town, the three municipalities where the plant is located, is required before TEPCO can begin construction of a new undersea tunnel and other facilities to be built in conjunction with the offshore discharge. TEPCO had indicated that it planned to start construction in June, but there is now a possibility of a delay.
 According to TEPCO’s plan, the treated water, which mainly contains radioactive tritium, will be diluted with a large amount of seawater to reduce the tritium concentration to less than 1/40th of the national discharge standard, and then discharged through an undersea tunnel to an area about 1 km offshore. The project is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2023. (Kenta Onozawa)

April 23, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Decommissioning: “It is Impossible to Foresee the End Date” says the Nuclear Regulation Commission

March 2, 2022

 Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Toyoshi Sarada said he believes it is impossible to predict when the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant will be completed.

 Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Toyoshi Sarada: “I think it is technically impossible to determine a realistic number of years that we can promise to various parties, for example.

 At the press conference, Chairman Saroda stated that he believes it is virtually impossible to set a time limit on when the fuel debris in Fukushima Daiichi reactors Nos. 1 through 3 can be cleaned up.

 He also recognized that it is technically impossible to give the people of Fukushima and other prefectures a fixed number of years until the plant is decommissioned.

 The government and TEPCO are still aiming for a maximum of 29 years to decommission the reactors amidst difficulties in removing debris and other issues.

March 3, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant “debris” storage method to be reconsidered – Chairman of the Regulatory Commission, Mr. Sarada

February 2, 2022

The chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), Mr. Toyoshi Sarada, has asked Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to reconsider the storage method of concrete debris with a very small amount of radioactive materials from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, with a view to temporarily burying it underground.

It has been 11 years since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant occurred in March 2011. The decommissioning of the nuclear power plant involves the removal of nuclear fuel that has cooled down after melting down. The biggest challenge is to remove the fuel debris. On the other hand, the disposal of low-level radioactive waste, which is generated in large quantities every day at the decommissioning site, is also a major issue.

As a result of the hydrogen explosions in the three reactor buildings, concrete fragments were scattered.

At a meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority held on the 2nd, Mr. Sarada said, “Even if we assume that the waste will be transferred in the future, there are some areas where it would be much more advantageous to bury and store the waste,” and expressed his desire to ask TEPCO to reconsider the storage method with a view to temporarily burying it underground.

The amount of waste from the decommissioning of the nuclear power plant is increasing, but the management at the site is not up to the task, so a realistic storage method must be considered with an eye to the future, he said.

February 3, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear regulator says cost-cutting culture creating mistakes, delays at Fukushima plant

The No. 3 reactor, right, and No. 2 reactor, left, are seen in this photo of work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in November 2018, provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.
November 8, 2019
TOKYO — Decommissioning efforts following the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station have been hit by delays and a series of mistakes contravening safety rules relating to the operation of nuclear facilities.
In response to the issues, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) is carrying out a survey into whether operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has sufficient staffing numbers working on the project, and is seeking to have TEPCO’s board improve its preparations.
According to the secretariat of the NRA, this summer there were errors in the wiring of electrical cables to the No. 5 and 6 reactors, which caused problems when smoke started to emerge from equipment attached to the reactors.
Furthermore, drinking facilities are being continually installed in controlled zones with high levels of radioactivity where they are forbidden from being built, and it has emerged that workers have drunk water from those areas. In October, the NRA identified both incidents as contravening safety regulations.
Elsewhere, the continuation of work to remove spent nuclear fuel from storage pools at the No. 3 reactor has been delayed. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said, “It appears the absolute number of such workers (who manage the work at the power station) is insufficient. If small mistakes continue, it creates the danger of leading to big mistakes.”
Ryusuke Kobayashi, head of the Fukushima Daiichi NRA Regional Office, attended a regular meeting of the NRA on Nov. 6. Regarding the situation at the power station, he said, “There’s a strong focus on cost-cutting at the site. It has an atmosphere which makes it difficult to speak out and say there are too few people working there.” At a press conference after the meeting, chairman Fuketa stressed that it was essential for more staff to be secured.
In response to the NRA, a representative at TEPCO said, “It’s believed an easing of vigilance at the site has been one reason (for the mistakes). The number of human errors has stayed at between 100 and 200 each year for the last five years. We want to proceed with a plan to resolve this considering the specific characteristics of the working environment at the site.”
(Japanese original by Yuka Saito and Suzuko Araki, Science & Environment News Department)

November 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Labor shortage cited for Fukushima N-plant errors

November 07, 2019
TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A series of human errors found at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s tsunami-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant may have been caused by a labor shortage, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has suggested.
At a regular meeting on Wednesday, the NRA received a local report on the current situation of decommissioning work at the plant, the site of the triple meltdown accident in March 2011.
Mistakes have been found frequently as a result of TEPCO’s insufficient understanding of the situation and the overburdening of plant workers, according to the report from the NRA office at the plant site.
“I guess manpower is lacking,” NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said at a news conference after the meeting, indicating his willingness to interview TEPCO executives.
In July, an operational error caused smoke to rise from an electricity transmission cable at the Fukushima plant.
Some such mistakes can be attributed to TEPCO’s poor supervision and insufficient information on the plant site. Some drawings of the site were not accurate, according to the office.
TEPCO “is not supervising the site properly,” Ryusuke Kobayashi, head of the regional office said.
According to Kobayashi, one TEPCO plant worker said there is no time to pause and think backward.
Another worker finds it difficult to point out the lack of human resources at a time when the company is working to reduce costs, Kobayashi said.
“I believe that the quality of the decommissioning work has deteriorated,” he said.

November 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Regulators to review Fukushima Daiichi plant work

Octobre 30, 2019
Japan’s nuclear regulators plan to look into work management at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which is being decommissioned following the 2011 accident.
The move follows a series of mistakes and violations. In June this year, smoke came out when workers misconnected power lines at the No.5 and No.6 reactors.
It has also come to light that water servers were placed for the past four years in restricted areas where radioactive materials are stored.
The commissioners at the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday certified both incidents as safety violations.
In addition, work to remove nuclear fuel from the No.3 reactor’s storage pool has been delayed due to repeated mechanical problems.
The commissioners also decided to request a report from their inspectors stationed in Fukushima Prefecture on whether the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, is conducting its work properly. The regulators also plan to directly question TEPCO officials.
Authority chairman Toyoshi Fuketa told reporters that simple procedural errors raise concern as to whether TEPCO has enough electricians and quality managers at the site.
He said the regulating body will make sure that small mistakes don’t lead to big ones.

November 4, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment