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Japan nuclear plant safety costs increase 5-fold over 6 years to 5.4 trillion yen

The No. 6 reactor building at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant is seen in Niigata Prefecture on Nov. 15, 2018
November 16, 2019
TOKYO — The estimated cost of safety measures at nuclear power plants across Japan has increased fivefold over the past six years to just over 5.38 trillion yen, a Mainichi Shimbun survey has shown.
Eleven power producers spent the funds to implement stiffened safety standards at 15 nuclear power plants, including those currently under construction, according to the survey conducted from September to November this year. Atomic power station safety regulations were strengthened in July 2013 after the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis and subsequent shutdown of all Japan’s nuclear plants in 2011, and required upgrades at existing facilities before they could restart.
A 2013 survey conducted before the new regulations were implemented found that 10 power companies had allocated a combined 998.7 billion yen to safety measures. The outcome of the latest survey indicates the scale of the financial commitment power companies must make to meet the stricter safety regulations.
Tadahiro Katsuta, a nuclear power policy expert at Meiji University, commented, “Countermeasures against accidents being taken now should’ve been considered before the (2011 Fukushima Daiichi) nuclear accident. The sharp increase in costs is the result of the firms’ failure to do what was necessary.”
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) is estimated to have spent nearly 1.17 trillion yen on safety measures, the largest amount of all the 11 utilities. TEPCO explained that large outlays were required to reinforce piping at buildings housing the No. 1 to 7 reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Niigata Prefecture following the 2007 Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake as well as for countermeasures against liquefaction beneath the complex’s No. 6 and 7 reactors. The figure is around 17 times the company’s 2013 cost estimate of 70 billion yen.
TEPCO is followed by Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) based in the western Japan city of Osaka, at some 1.02 trillion yen, about 3.6 times the 2013 estimate. Implementing measures against terror attacks at its three nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture along the Sea of Japan coast — the Takahama, Oi and Mihama complexes — and other measures were particularly expensive.
Kyushu Electric Power Co. in southwestern Japan, which operates the Sendai and Genkai nuclear plants in Kagoshima and Saga prefectures, respectively, estimates its safety upgrade costs at 900 billion yen, 4.5 times the figure in 2013.
However, six other companies, including Chubu Electric Power Co. in central Japan, which is aiming to restart its Hamaoka plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, answered that the costs of construction for anti-terror measures were not yet determined. The measures are generally estimated to cost tens to hundreds of billions of yen.
Since countermeasures against volcanic ash need to be considered at some atomic power plants, the costs will likely mount further.
(Japanese original by Riki Iwama, Suzuko Araki and Yuka Saito, Science & Environment News Department)

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

Nuclear plant construction at center of town’s first mayoral race in 16 years

 Atsuko Kumagai, owner of Asako House is one of the candidates!



AOMORI – Official campaigning began Tuesday for the first mayoral election in 16 years in the town of Oma, Aomori Prefecture, with four candidates battling it out over whether an under-construction nuclear plant is good for the community.

Voters will cast ballots Sunday for the first time since January 2001. The current mayor, Mitsuharu Kanazawa, 66, faced no challengers in the three previous elections.

Kanazawa, who is seeking re-election once again, supports the early completion of the nuclear plant that Electric Power Development Co., more commonly known as J-Power, started building in 2008 on the coast of the Tsugaru Strait between Aomori and Hokkaido.



Two of the three other candidates oppose the construction, which was suspended in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis. The plant’s targeted start for commercial operation is currently set for fiscal 2024.

One of the candidates is Hideki Sasaki, 67, a former member of the municipal assembly in Hakodate, Hokkaido, located about 30 km across the Tsugaru Strait from the construction site. Sakaki, who moved to Oma, opposes the construction.



Another is Atsuko Kumagai, 62, the head of a citizens’ group who owns land near the construction site. She also objects to the plant’s construction and proposes reinvigorating the town through fishing and tourism.



The final candidate is Naofumi Nozaki, a 61-year-old former Oma town official. He has criticized the current town administration for excessive dependence on government nuclear power plant subsidies and has pledged to restore the town’s fiscal health and revitalize the local community.

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

Former town mayor recalls town referendum that booted plans for nuclear plant


NIIGATA – Residents of the town of Maki, Niigata Prefecture, made the right decision 20 years ago, according to Takaaki Sasaguchi.

The town was Japan’s first ever to hold a referendum over a plan to build a nuclear power plant and firmly knocked it down.

I’m proud that we opened our future through the referendum,” the former town mayor, 68, said in an interview. “Our choice not to allow a nuclear plant to be built in our town was not wrong.”

Maki no longer exists as a discrete entity as it has since been absorbed into the city of Niigata.

But memories run strong of what people power achieved, and in light of the Fukushima disaster what it may have prevented.

In 1971, Tohoku Electric Power Co. unveiled plans to construct a nuclear plant in the town. The facility was to generate electricity from a central 825,000-kw reactor of boiling-water design.

But as land appropriation and other work got underway, opposition strengthened.

Sasaguchi and his colleagues set up a group aimed at holding a referendum so that residents could decide for themselves.

He was elected mayor in January 1996, and the Maki government then established a municipal ordinance for a referendum.

Referendum day was Aug. 4 that year, and 12,478 residents voted against the plan. Those in favor totaled 7,904.

Voter turnout was 88.29 percent in Japan’s first local referendum over a nuclear power station.

Following the result, Mayor Sasaguchi decided to reject the nuclear plant construction, and a plot of land that the town owned within the proposed site was sold off to residents who had opposed the plans.

Those in favor of the plant sued, but in December 2003 they lost the case and later that month Tohoku Electric threw in the towel.

Sasaguchi accuses Japan’s government of not encouraging respect for local voices back then.

A pro-nuclear push made it difficult for Maki residents to speak up.

The most important thing in the referendum was that residents showed their intentions and made a choice,” Sasaguchi recalls.

The referendum result drew heavy media coverage, and the town was praised for choosing the democratic process.

Sasaguchi says it also brought the town together.

I think Maki residents probably wanted to bring their town, which had been upset by the nuclear project, back to being a normal community,” he said.

The town was merged into the city of Niigata in 2005, and the referendum began to be forgotten.

However, the March 2011 nuclear crisis in neighboring Fukushima Prefecture reminded ex-Maki residents of the significance of their vote back in 2006.

They told Sasaguchi the same tragedy could have happened to them if they had allowed a nuclear plant to be built.

Meanwhile, Sasaguchi notes that Tokyo Electric Power Co. has filed for Nuclear Regulation Authority safety checks for two of the seven reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station in Niigata Prefecture.

Even if the NRA endorses the safety, the issue of the nuclear waste disposal site remains unresolved,” he said.

The central government still has not identified a long-term disposal site for high-level waste.

The Japanese government should put into force a policy that doesn’t depend on nuclear power plants as soon as possible,” he said.


August 20, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

License renewed for new nuclear plant project in western Japan


Planned construction site for Kaminoseki nuclear plant

File photo taken in October 2012 shows the planned construction site for a Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s nuclear plant in the western Japan town of Kaminoseki. Local opposition and the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster have prevented development of the construction project.

YAMAGUCHI, Japan (Kyodo) — The Yamaguchi prefectural government on Wednesday renewed a license for Chugoku Electric Power Co. to reclaim land for a new nuclear power plant in the western Japan prefecture, surprising and angering local residents opposed to the project.

Whether to extend the expired license for landfill work in the coastal town of Kaminoseki to build the Kaminoseki Nuclear Power Station had been a pending issue after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis led to the suspension of the work. But the local government decided to grant permission, saying that the plant is positioned “within the country’s energy policy.”

The utility is unlikely to quickly restart the work due to local opposition, however. The local government’s license renewal is also conditional: It said landfill work should not start until prospects of building plant facilities become clear.

But the latest development could open up substantial discussions on whether new reactors should be built in Japan, which the central government has largely avoided so far in consideration of antinuclear sentiment that has prevailed after the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.

Meanwhile, the government has already been pushing for the resumption of existing reactors that have met post-Fukushima safety requirements. On Wednesday, the No. 3 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama plant in Fukui Prefecture became the latest unit to have effectively cleared the state safety assessment.

Chugoku Electric was initially granted the landfill license in October 2008 for the two-reactor Kaminoseki nuclear complex on an island in the Seto Inland Sea.

The company began landfill work a year later, but progress was slow amid local protests and was suspended after the Fukushima crisis was triggered by a huge earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan in March 2011.

Just before the license was set to expire in October 2012, the utility applied for a three-year extension to the prefectural government. “We have not changed our idea that we need the Kaminoseki plant. We want to keep the license,” a utility official said at the time.

Then Yamaguchi Gov. Shigetaro Yamamoto said the local government will “examine the issue appropriately” but did not make a decision, citing “special circumstances after the nuclear accident.”

But on Wednesday, the prefectural government reversed course and permitted the extension of the license, though saying that landfill work should not begin until the utility has clear prospects of building plant facilities.

Chugoku Electric Vice President Akira Sakotani said the same day that there is currently no specific date set for building the facilities.

“We will seriously take to heart the request (by the prefectural government) and carefully consider (our response),” he said.

The license will be effective until July 6, 2019.

The decision of the prefectural government drew mixed responses from local residents.

“I can’t believe the permission was given,” said Toshiyasu Shimizu, 61, who heads a group of residents on an island several kilometers from the construction site.

But Naonori Koizumi, a 58-year-old member of a group supporting the construction project, said, “I don’t think work will immediately resume, but the town is depopulating and graying. I hope nuclear power will make this town richer.”

August 3, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

40-year-old Shikoku reactor to be sixth unit scrapped under stricter safety regimen

MATSUYAMA, EHIME PREF. – Shikoku Electric Power Co. on Tuesday ended operation of a nearly 40-year old nuclear reactor in western Japan, making it the sixth unit to be scrapped under stricter safety regulations introduced after the 2011 Fukushima disaster started.

The utility decided in March to decommission the idled reactor 1 at its Ikata nuclear complex in Ehime Prefecture, as it would be too costly to reboot the aging reactor.

The company estimates more than ¥170 billion ($1.59 billion) would be needed to beef up safety measures for restarting the reactor, which started operation in 1977.

It is expected to take about 30 years to complete the decommissioning of the reactor at a total cost of ¥40 billion, according to Shikoku Electric.

The company is banking on technology cooperation that it agreed on with three other regional utilities last month to cut decommissioning costs.

The tougher safety rules prohibit the operation of nuclear reactors beyond 40 years in principle. But operation for an additional 20 years is possible if operators make safety upgrades and pass the regulator’s screening.

The government is looking to reactivate more reactors to meet a goal of generating at least 20 percent of Japan’s overall electricity with nuclear power generation by 2030.

The shutdown of the Ikata reactor 1 reduced the number of commercial reactors in Japan to 42, of which four have been restarted under the post-Fukushima safety rules. But two of the four were shut down earlier this year following a court decision banning them from resuming operations.

With new reactor construction difficult amid public concern over the safety of nuclear power, the country would need a dozen of the aging reactors to operate beyond the 40-year limit to accomplish the government goal, industry observers say.

Shikoku Electric has said it would not make economic sense to restart the unit 1 given the cost and the fact that it has a relatively small output capacity of 566,000 kw, while the company aims to reboot the larger and newer reactor 3 at the same power plant.

The town of Ikata expects the scrapping of the aging reactor to reduce state subsidies that it receives for hosting the nuclear complex by ¥300 million to ¥400 million to around ¥1 billion.

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment