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No Damages to Nuclear Plants after 6.8 Magnitude Earthquake ‘according’ to TEPCO and Trade Ministry

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No Damages To Nuclear Power Plants Reported After Earthquake In Japan – Trade Ministry
June 18, 2019
No damages have been reported so far on Japan’s nuclear power plants after the north of the country got hit by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said
MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 18th June, 2019) No damages have been reported so far on Japan’s nuclear power plants after the north of the country got hit by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.
“There is no information of damage inflicted on the following Nuclear Power Stations (all in shutdown or in decommissioning). Tokyo Electric Power: Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant / Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant / Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant, Tohoku Electric Power: Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant / Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant,” the ministry said on Twitter.
 
No impact from the earthquake on primary TEPCO power facilities
June 19, 2019
At around 10:22 PM on June 18th, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Yamagata Prefecture, Japan.
Field patrols at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini nuclear power stations did not find any abnormalities with equipment at any of the stations. And, no abnormalities were found in monitoring post or plant parameter data.
There was also no impact from this earthquake on other primary TEPCO power facilities, such as hydroelectric power facilities and transmission facilities in Niigata Prefecture.
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June 20, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Counterterrorism requirement puts financial strain on nuclear power plant operators

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April 24, 2019
TOKYO — Nine nuclear reactors at five plants in Japan are expected to start going offline in succession from March 2020 because their operators cannot meet deadlines for implementing counterterrorism measures set by Japan’s nuclear regulator.
The five plants are operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co., Shikoku Electric Power Co., and Kansai Electric Power Co. They stand one to three years behind their respective deadlines for implementing counterterrorism measures set under a new policy of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). The situation is likely to disrupt the power companies’ plans to win customers by lowering their fees through the operation of nuclear reactors.
“If things continue like this, we’ll have to stop operating the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in about one year. From a management perspective it’s tough,” one Kyushu Electric official lamented.
According to the three companies, when one plant stops operating, fuel costs for operating thermal power plants to make up for the electricity supply increase by between 3.5 billion yen and 6.5 billion yen a month. Kansai Electric and Kyushu Electric, which have multiple reactors in operation, could see their operating costs balloon by around 100 billion yen a year as a result.
Amid intense competition with Osaka Gas and other new electricity retailers, it is not viable for the power companies to ask customers to pay more for electricity.
Shikoku Electric in western Japan has already decided to decommission the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at its Ikata Nuclear Power Plant in Ehime Prefecture, and operation of the plant’s No. 3 reactor, the sole remaining one, was viewed as a major premise for establishing stable financial management.
In light of the situation, the power companies’ sale of electricity to other firms is set to decrease, which is certain to hit power companies in the pocket — highlighting the risks of relying on nuclear power.
The nuclear regulator’s move is also likely to significantly affect Japan Atomic Power Co.’s plans to restart its Tokai No. 2 Power Station in Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo. In November last year, the power plant passed screening by the NRA to enable its reactivation, and received permission to keep operating for another 20 years. However, it has not even compiled an estimate for the cost of building a facility required under the counterterrorism guidelines.
Under NRA rules, nuclear plant operators are required to build facilities at least 100 meters away from reactor buildings that are able to remotely prevent meltdowns if the units come under terrorist attacks such as planes being flown into them. The facilities must be built within five years of the NRA approving plant construction plans.
A Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official observed, “This could be described as a birth pang in the process of boosting safety, but it’s an unfavorable wind in the short term.” Meanwhile, Tadashi Narabayashi, a specially appointed professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology, commented, “Power companies were hoping that things would go easy for them, but the NRA should have made it clear from the outset that they were not going to allow any extensions beyond the 5-year limit. The responsibility for the confusion lies on both sides.”

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

Japan to shut down nuclear plants if counterterror steps not taken in time

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April 24, 2019
Japan’s nuclear regulator decided Wednesday not to let power companies operate reactors if they fail to install sufficient counterterrorism measures by specified deadlines.
The decision by the Nuclear Regulation Authority came after three utilities that operate five nuclear plants in western and southwestern Japan requested that their deadlines be extended as they expect delays in completing counterterrorism steps required under stricter regulations introduced in 2013 following the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
Kyushu Electric Power Co., Kansai Electric Power Co. and Shikoku Electric Power Co. had sought to postpone their five-year deadlines by one to three years, citing reasons such as the need to carry out massive construction work.
The three companies told the NRA that the measures would not be on time at 10 of their reactors, according to documents published on the regulator’s website.
But the regulator has declined their requests for extensions.
The power plant operators are required to build facilities that can keep reactors cool via remote control and prevent the massive release of radioactive materials if the units are the target of a terrorist attack, such as from planes being flown into them.
Nuclear plant operators need to set up such facilities within five years of the nuclear safety watchdog approving detailed construction plans for the plants.
But several firms have warned they will not meet these criteria. The NRA said after a meeting earlier Wednesday it would no longer push back the deadline as it has done in the past.
“There is no need to extend the deadline, and nuclear facilities have to stop operations if the operators fail to meet it,” an NRA official said.
He added that several other reactors were also at risk of being shut down.
A reactor at the Sendai power plant in Kyushu could be the first to be suspended if Kyushu Electric Power fails to finish work by the deadline next March.
Following the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai plant, the No. 2 reactor at the complex is facing a deadline in May 2020. The deadline for the No. 3 reactor at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture operated by Kansai Electric is August 2020.
At an NRA meeting Wednesday, one of the commissioners said, “The construction work did not fall behind schedule because of natural disaster,” expressing the view that there is no need to extend the deadlines.
“We cannot overlook the operations of nuclear facilities when they become incompatible with meeting standards,” NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said.
Before the Fukushima disaster, Japan relied on nuclear power for roughly 30 percent of its electricity. But this declined to less than 2 percent after the crisis as reactors were suspended for emergency safety checks, with many unable to resume operations under the stricter rules. The ratio has since recovered somewhat, but it remains below 10 percent due to a protracted process of stringent safety checks by the regulator.
Shares of all three companies tumbled on the news. Kansai Electric ended down 7.8 percent, Kyushu Electric fell 5.3 percent and Shikoku Electric dropped 5 percent.
A draft by the industry ministry said nuclear should account for 20 to 22 percent of power supply in 2030 and renewables 22 to 24 percent, in line with the trade ministry’s goals set in 2015.
But many experts view the nuclear target as difficult to achieve in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima crisis, which led to a big shift in public opinion after it exposed industrial and regulatory failings and led to the shutdown of all the country’s reactors.

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

Japan Atomic Power considers launching unit that specializes in scrapping nuclear plants

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The Tokai No. 2 plant (right) operated by Japan Atomic Power Co. in Ibaraki Prefecture, is seen in this photo taken last July.
April 16, 2019
Japan Atomic Power Co. is considering setting up a subsidiary specializing in the scrapping of retired nuclear reactors at domestic power plants, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.
Japan Atomic Power, a wholesaler of electricity generated at its nuclear plants, is planning to have U.S. nuclear waste firm EnergySolutions Inc. invest in the reactor decommissioning service unit, which would be the first of its kind in Japan, the sources said.
The Tokyo-based electricity wholesaler, whose shareholders are major domestic power companies, will make a final decision by the end of this year, they said.
The plan is to support power companies’ scrapping of retired reactors using Japan Atomic Power’s expertise in decontaminating and dismantling work, in which it has been engaged in since before the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 complex, according to the sources.
The plan comes as a series of nuclear reactor decommissioning is expected at power companies in the country. Since stringent safety rules were introduced after the Fukushima disaster, 11 reactors, excluding those at the two Fukushima plants of Tepco, are slated to be scrapped.
Nuclear reactors are allowed to run for 40 years in Japan. Their operation can be extended for 20 years, but operators will need costly safety enhancement measures to clear the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s screening.
Decommissioning a reactor with an output capacity of 1 million kilowatts is said to take about 30 years and cost around ¥50 billion. Typically, some 500,000 tons of waste result from scrapping such a reactor, and 2 percent of the waste is radioactive.
Japan Atomic Power first engaged in decommissioning a commercial reactor in 2001 at its Tokai plant in eastern Japan. It has been conducting decommissioning work at its Tsuruga nuclear power plant in western Japan since 2017.
It is also providing support to Tepco for the decommissioning of reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
EnergySolutions, founded in 2006, has engaged in scrapping five reactors in the United States.
Japan Atomic Energy and EnergySolutions have had previous business ties, and the Japanese company has sent some employees to the Zion nuclear station in Illinois, where the U.S. partner has been conducting decommissioning work since 2010.

April 23, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Costs for scrapping 79 nuclear facilities estimated at 1.9 tril. Yen

Taxpayers will be paying the costs for scrapping nuclear facilities.
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December 27, 2018
TOKYO (Kyodo) — The state-backed Japan Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday it would need to spend about 1.9 trillion yen ($17.1 billion) to close 79 facilities over 70 years, in its first such estimate.
The total costs could increase further, as the agency said the estimated figure, which would be shouldered by taxpayers, excludes expenses for maintenance and replacing aging equipment.
The JAEA plans to close more than half of the 79 facilities over the next 10 years due in part to the increased costs to operate them under stricter safety rules introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis. The agency, which has led nuclear energy research in Japan with its predecessors since the 1950s, owns a total of 89 facilities.
Of the estimated costs, the expense for closing the nation’s first spent-fuel reprocessing plant in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, accounts for the largest chunk of 770 billion yen. It will cost 150 billion yen to decommission the trouble-plagued Monju prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor.
As for nuclear waste, the agency said about 100 kiloliters of high-level radioactive waste and up to 114,000 kl of low-level radioactive waste were estimated to have been produced but it has yet to decide on disposal locations.
The Japanese government aims to restart nuclear power plants after a nationwide halt following the nuclear crisis, despite persistent concern over the safety of atomic power generation.

January 2, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Editorial: Japan must ditch nuclear plant exports for global trends in renewable energy

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December 25, 2018
Projects to export nuclear power plants, a pillar of the “growth strategy” promoted by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, appear to be crumbling.
Factors behind the failures include ballooning construction costs due to strengthened safety standards after the triple core meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in March 2011, and growing anti-nuclear sentiments around the world.
Nothing else can be said but that the export projects have effectively failed. The prime minister’s office and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry must bear the responsibility of continuing to promote these exports despite a massive change in the attitude toward nuclear power plants.
“We are really stretched to our limit,” Hitachi Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi recently said of the company’s nuclear power plant construction plan in Britain. The statement came at a regular press conference of the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, indicating that continuing the project is not feasible.
Hitachi coordinated closely with the Japanese government to advance the U.K. project. The company was to build two nuclear power reactors in midwestern Britain through a local subsidiary, and to start operating the facilities in the first half of the 2020s.
But, the total estimated cost of the project has skyrocketed from the initial figure of 2 trillion yen to 3 trillion yen due to growing safety measure costs. Hitachi, hoping to distribute financial risk, sought investments from major power utilities and other firms, but the negotiations hit a snag due to the lowered profitability of the project.
In a bid to secure profits at an early stage, Hitachi requested that the British government raise the price of the electricity to be generated by the plants, which was guaranteed to be purchased in advance. This arrangement also hit a wall as confusion spread in the British political sphere over the nation’s planned exit from the European Union. Hitachi, which has a stake in the local subsidiary, would lose some 300 billion yen if the project was cancelled.
Similar trouble has arisen in Turkey. A plan to export nuclear power plants, which began from a close relationship between Prime Minister Abe and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has also run aground.
Under the original plan, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and other businesses were to build four midsized reactors in Turkey along the coast of the Black Sea at a total estimated cost of 2.1 trillion yen. The amount has more than doubled to 5 trillion yen, due in part to increased cost estimates for earthquake-proof measures. This development now requires the Japanese and Turkish governments to extend additional financial support for the project, but the two sides have apparently failed to reach an agreement.
The Abe administration has thrown its weight behind the export of nuclear power plants as a major element of its economic “growth strategy,” with the trade ministry choreographing the moves for the projects. The ministry regards nuclear power generation as one of the main sources of power generation, always protecting and promoting the nuclear power industry.
However, after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, building such plants within Japan has become difficult, and the ministry hoped to maintain the size of the nuclear power industry through exports and the transference of relevant technologies and human resources to the next generation. But this has ignored the fact that international trends have shifted since the disaster.
The construction cost for nuclear power plants has grown exponentially with the increased focus on safety measures, while renewable energy sources such as solar power have become cheaper with the rapid expansion of their use. As such, the relative price competitiveness for nuclear power reactors has declined; it can no longer be called an “inexpensive energy source.”
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global investments for new nuclear power plant construction in 2017 dropped to 30 percent of the previous year’s figure. Global policy is moving away from nuclear power plants and instead tipping toward renewable energy sources.
The failure to reflect this trend led to the huge losses incurred by Toshiba Corp., which bought Westinghouse Electric Co. with backing from the trade ministry to pursue its troubled nuclear power projects in the United States.
In 2012, a national referendum in Lithuania voted down a project to build a Hitachi nuclear power plant, and then in 2016, Vietnam scrubbed a similar construction plan. The same year, Japan signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with India, eyeing exports of nuclear power plants despite concerns about the proliferation of nuclear materials to the nuclear weapon state outside of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Still, the export plan has yet to materialize. It is clear that the export of nuclear power plants has been backed into a corner for quite some time already.
It is Japan that caused one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents, and is now working on decommissioning the damaged reactors in a process that will take decades to complete. Many people in Japan hold deeply rooted feelings against the government’s placement of nuclear power plant exports as a pillar of the nation’s growth strategy.
In response, the government has simply justified the projects by saying they will contribute to developing countries with a growing power demand by offering a cheap source of power to support their economic growth. Rising construction costs, however, has rendered this explanation moot.
Japan still has many nuclear power plants to run, and the decommissioning of older plants will soon be in full-swing. The latest technology and skilled experts are vital for these projects to be completed successfully.
Continuing to focus on nuclear power export, however, will lead Japan nowhere. The government should take another look at global trends, and review the basis of its nuclear power policy to rid Japan of nuclear power as soon as possible.

December 27, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

50% in nuclear industry: Energy plan for 2030 is ‘unrealistic’

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Tohoku Electric Power Co. has decided to decommission the No. 1 reactor at the Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi Prefecture. 
December 5, 2018
Half of companies in the nuclear industry doubt the government’s goal of having nuclear power account for 20 to 22 percent of Japan’s energy supply by fiscal 2030, according to a survey.
The reasons for their skepticism relate mainly to difficulties restarting or building reactors under stricter safety measures taken after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.
The survey was conducted in June and July by the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, whose members include electric power companies that operate nuclear plants.
The forum contacted 365 companies in the nuclear industry, such as equipment manufacturers, and received responses from 254, or 70 percent.
According to the results, 50 percent of the companies said the government’s nuclear energy goal for fiscal 2030 is “unachievable,” compared with only 10 percent that said it is “achievable.” Forty percent said the attainability is “unknown.”
An estimated 30 reactors must be operating to reach the target, but the resumption of reactor operations has been slow since all of them were shut down after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
“Only nine reactors were restarted in the more than seven years after the accident in Fukushima,” Akio Takahashi, president of the forum and former senior official at Tokyo Electric Power Co., said at a news conference. “I guess respondents think it’s difficult (to achieve the goal) given the current pace (of the restarts).”
Tougher nuclear safety standards were set after the Fukushima disaster, forcing utilities to spend more on upgrading their reactors or keeping aging units operational.
Asked why they thought the government’s nuclear goal was unrealistic, 48 percent of the companies said, “There are no plans in sight to build or replace nuclear reactors.”
Thirty-three percent cited the delays in restarting idle reactors, while 16 percent said, “No progress can be seen in regaining trust from the public.”

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Nuclear plants must take threat of volcanic ash more seriously

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The Takahama nuclear power plant in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture 
 
November 27, 2018
The Nuclear Regulation Authority will reassess the safety risks posed by possible natural disasters to certain nuclear power plants that have been declared to be fit for operation under the new safety standards.
The nuclear watchdog’s unusual decision has been prompted by recent discoveries of new facts concerning possible effects of volcanic eruptions on the Mihama, Oi and Takahama nuclear power plants operated in Fukui Prefecture by Kansai Electric Power Co.
It is a totally reasonable decision based on the principle of putting the top priority on safety in regulating nuclear plants.
Initially, Kansai Electric asserted that volcanic ash posed no threat to the safety of the three nuclear plants. Its claim was based on its own estimate of the amount of volcanic ash that would fall on the plants.
Using research findings and geological surveys as well as simulations of eruptions of Mount Daisen, a volcanic mountain in Tottori Prefecture located about 200 kilometers from the plants, the Osaka-based utility estimated that the nuclear compounds could be coated with up to 10 centimeters of ash from a major volcanic eruption.
The NRA accepted the company’s assessments of volcanic hazards for these plants and allowed the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at both the Oi and Takahama plants to come back online.
After the NRA’s safety screenings, however, a 30-cm ash layer from an eruption of Mount Daisen that occurred 80,000 years ago was discovered in Kyoto, 190 km from the mountain.
Kansai Electric argued that the thickness of ash from the mountain cannot be estimated accurately because ash from other sources was mixed in.
But the NRA confirmed that the layer of volcanic ash from the mountain is 25 cm thick through its own on-site inspection and other research, concluding that the eruption was greater in scale than the utility’s estimate of a maximum possible incident.
These developments have led to the regulator’s unusual decision to reassess the risks posed by volcanic ash fall to the safety of the plants.
A massive fall of volcanic ash could cause a malfunction of the emergency power generation system at a nuclear power plant and cut off the power supply, which is crucial for preventing a severe nuclear accident during a natural disaster.
The new findings have made it inevitable to re-evaluate the estimate of maximum possible volcanic ash fall for each nuclear plant and consider the necessity of additional safety measures.
One important component of the new tighter nuclear safety standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is the so-called “back-fit” system, which applies the latest safety requirements to existing reactors.
The NRA acted on this new rule when it decided to reassess the threats posed by volcanic eruptions to the safety of the nuclear plants by incorporating the implications of the newly discovered facts.
The body should adopt the same stance toward safety risks posed by other natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunami.
But the NRA has also decided not to order the utility to suspend the operations of the four reactors, at least for now, because there is a certain safety margin in the measures to deal with volcanic ash fall taken at the three nuclear plants in Fukui Prefecture.
But it should not hesitate to order the shutdowns of these reactors if more new facts are discovered with risk implications for them.
Bodies of scientific knowledge concerning earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions change constantly due to new findings from research and surveys.
Kansai Electric Power’s response to the new discovery deserves to be criticized as an attempt to escape from an inconvenient new fact.
Electric utilities operating nuclear plants need to make constant efforts to gather the latest information and face new facts concerning the safety of their nuclear plants in a humble and honest manner.
The back-fit system was introduced to ensure the safety of nuclear plants in this nation as a policy response to the lessons learned from the catastrophic accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. This should never be forgotten.

December 6, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Former worker’s book: TEPCO unfit to operate nuclear plants

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Toru Hasuike, a former employee of Tokyo Electric Power Co., talks about his new book in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture.
 
August 27, 2018
KASHIWAZAKI, Niigata Prefecture–Toru Hasuike, who worked at Tokyo Electric Power Co. for 32 years, has published another book that he says shows his former employer should be declared “ineligible” to operate nuclear power plants.
“Kokuhatsu” (Accusation), a 250-page book released on Aug. 27 by Tokyo-based Business-sha Inc., reveals episodes that underscore the utility’s culture of cover-ups and collusion, including how it stacked the decks in its favor for government approval of its new reactors, he said.
After graduating from the Tokyo University of Science, Hasuike, 63, had worked in TEPCO’s nuclear division, including a stint at the now-embattled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, from 1977 until he left the company in 2009.
His first book about the utility, titled “Watashi ga Aishita Tokyo Denryoku” (Tokyo Electric Power Co. that I loved), was released by Kyoto-based Kamogawa Co. in September 2011, a half-year after the disaster struck the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
In that book, Hasuike describes the day-to-day activities at TEPCO and the closed nature of the regional monopoly in a matter-of-fact tone. He does not accuse the company of cover-ups or collusion in the book.
“Back then, I believed that even TEPCO would transform itself (following the Fukushima nuclear disaster),” Hasuike said in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun in Kashiwazaki. “But TEPCO’s corporate culture of trying to cover up things and form collusive ties with authorities has not been overhauled. In my latest book, I wrote about all that I saw.”
Assigned to the utility’s main office in Tokyo, Hasuike, who had an engineering background, was primarily involved in work responding to nuclear regulators’ safety inspections of TEPCO’s plants as well as research into the disposal of high-level radioactive waste.
He said he documented a number of his experiences that epitomize the collusive ties between the utility and nuclear regulators before the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Hasuike said these episodes made him question the feasibility of TEPCO’s new stated goal of pushing for organizational reform that puts safety management of its nuclear facilities above everything else.
Hasuike was born and raised in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, a city that co-hosts TEPCO’s seven-reactor Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, the largest nuclear power station in Japan.
His parents and other relatives live in the coastal city.
The Diet’s Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission also pointed out TEPCO’s propensity to seek cozy ties with regulating bodies.
In its report published in 2012, the commission denounced collusion between TEPCO and the government’s nuclear watchdog, describing nuclear authorities as a “regulatory capture” of the company because they were easily manipulated by TEPCO’s vast wealth of nuclear expertise.
In his new book, Hasuike describes, for example, TEPCO’s moves related to the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.
The company is currently seeking to bring those reactors back online as soon as possible to save on fuel costs needed to operate its thermal plants.
Hasuike said in the book that TEPCO sent some of its employees to the then Science and Technology Agency in 1990 on the pretext of “assisting in preparations” for a public hearing planned by the government’s Nuclear Safety Commission.
The agency’s commission was scheduled to hold a public hearing at the Niigata prefectural government building on whether to give approval and licenses for the construction of the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.
The TEPCO employees were sent to the agency, where the commission’s secretariat was located, to check postcards sent by those hoping to attend the hearing. Specifically, TEPCO wanted to know their stance on nuclear energy and prevent the hearing from being dominated by anti-nuclear attendees, according to the book.
When they grasped the number of nuclear opponents who planned to attend, the TEPCO employees made arrangements to send several times that number of application postcards to the pro-nuclear energy camp to ensure their representation was larger than nuclear skeptics at the hearing, Hasuike wrote.
After the applicants were selected and those permitted to ask questions at the hearing were chosen, the TEPCO employees advised the pro-nuclear attendees on their proposed questions with the aim to make the plant look safe, according to the book.
Hasuike has also been known as a relentless critic of the government for its handling of the decades-old issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents. He has appeared on TV programs and written several books on the subject.
His younger brother, Kaoru, returned to Japan in 2002 after being abducted to North Korea in 1978. But many other abductees remain unaccounted for, and there are few signs of progress toward a resolution of the issue.

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Strong earthquake shakes Osaka: Officials in neighboring Fukui Prefecture say all 15 nuclear reactors are still functioning

Strong earthquake shakes Osaka
All but 1 or 2 of these are supposedly shut down since 3-11.
Just before 8 am local time a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck northern Osaka. It’s categorized as a six-minus on a scale of zero to seven on Japan’s seismic intensity scale.
No tsunami warning has been issued.
Hyogo, Kyoto, Shiga, Nara are also affected.
At least 5 people were injured and have been transferred to hospital.
Officials in neighboring Fukui Prefecture say they’ve checked all the 15 nuclear reactors there, both online and offline, and no problems have been found.
Shinkansen bullet train service has been halted.
Local train services in the region have also been affected.
The 3 airports in the region temporarily halted operations but have just resumed.
Some areas in Osaka are reportedly experiencing power shortages.
A viewer has posted a photo showing water gushing from a cracked pipe along the Yodo River in Osaka Prefecture in the city of Takatsuki.
He said the water is still flowing from the pipe.
Senior government officials are gathering for an emergency meeting at the Prime Minister’s office.
Japanese Self-Defense Force fighter jets and helicopters are heading to the area to gather information.
 
At least three people killed, several injured after strong earthquake rattles Osaka area
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Elementary school students in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, evacuate to the school yard Monday morning after a magnitude 5.9 quake hit the Kansai region.
 
OSAKA – One of the most powerful earthquakes to rock the Kansai region in decades struck Osaka and neighboring prefectures Monday morning, leaving at least three people dead and a number of others injured.
The earthquake, measuring magnitude 6.1 and a lower 6 on the Japanese seismic scale of 7, hit at 7:58 a.m. and occurred at a depth of about 13 km in the northern part of Osaka Prefecture, the Meteorological Agency said. No tsunami warning was issued.
A 9-year-old girl in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, was confirmed dead after being struck when a wall surrounding a swimming pool fell on her as she walked by. Also in the prefecture, a man in his 80s from Ibaraki died after he was crushed by a bookshelf at his home, according to the Osaka Prefectural Government.
 
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People get off a train in Osaka’s Kita Ward Monday morning after West Japan Railway Co. and other railways suspended operations following a major earthquake.
 
NHK also said an 80-year-old man in the city of Osaka died after being hit by a falling wall, while a number of other people were also feared dead.
A number of injuries and dozens of fires were reported from Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto and Mie prefectures, according to local police and city authorities.
A water pipe under a road in Takatsuki burst and flooded the area, according to police.
Disaster management minister Hachiro Okonogi said people were reportedly trapped under a collapsed building. Authorities were working to confirm the details.
According to police and rescuers, two people were trapped in an elevator at a train station in Yamatokoriyama, Nara Prefecture. More people were believed to be stranded in elevators in apartment buildings, they said.
The weather agency issued a warning against landslides, adding that people should be cautious about possible aftershocks for a few days.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, speaking in Tokyo, said the government was not aware of any reports of damage to nuclear power plants near Osaka, such as the Takahama and Oi plants in Fukui Prefecture.
Suga said that, following instructions issued by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the government set up an emergency task force to gather information about the situation. The government vowed to “do its utmost” to extend disaster-relief efforts and help with reconstruction, as well as provide the public with relevant information.
There is no immediate plan at the moment to open evacuation centers or supply food or drinking water to affected areas, Suga said, adding that the government has not so far received any request for Self-Defense Forces personnel to be dispatched.
The top government spokesman also urged residents in the hardest-hit areas, including the cities of Takatsuki, Hirakata and Ibaraki in Osaka Prefecture, to “stay calm” and be vigilant against “strong” aftershocks, which he said could be as strong as a lower 6 on the Japanese scale, over the next week or so.
A senior government official, meanwhile, expressed guarded optimism that damage due to Monday morning’s quake is unlikely to too widespread, citing what appears to be the “localized” nature of the quake and swift power recovery.
More than 60 bullet trains were canceled during the morning, and some expressways were also closed. Both Kansai International and Kobe airport temporarily closed but resumed operations after confirming that there was no structural damage to the facilities.
In Osaka Prefecture, power was restored after the quake left about 170,800 homes and buildings without electricity for several hours.
Osaka Gas said it turned off gas supplies to 108,000 households. Kansai Electric Power Co., meanwhile, said its nuclear plants in Fukui Prefecture were operating normally.
No abnormalities were reported at the Takahama, Mihama and Oi nuclear plants in the prefecture, according to Kepco.
The quake left many commuters stranded at stations or on streets during the morning rush hour after it disrupted shinkansen and other rail operations in western and central Japan.
The Tokaido Shinkansen Line connecting Osaka with Tokyo came to a halt in both directions shortly after the quake. As of 10 a.m., the section between Nagoya and Osaka remained closed.
A Japan Times staff member aboard a Tokyo-bound shinkansen said his train had stopped shortly before reaching Kakegawa Station in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Onboard announcements said safety checks following a quake-linked power outage between Tokyo and Odawara stations had led to the Tokyo-bound stoppage.
In a quake with an intensity of lower 6, it is difficult to remain standing and unsecured furniture may move or topple over, according to the meteorological agency.
Although its magnitude was relatively weak, the quake is believed to have triggered high-intensity tremors because of its shallow epicenter.
In the deadly 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake in the region, which had a magnitude of 7.3 and recorded 7 on the seismic intensity scale, 6,434 people were killed.
It was the latest in a string of quakes over the last few days. A magnitude 4.6 quake hit southern Gunma Prefecture on Sunday, and a magnitude 4.5 temblor struck Chiba Prefecture on Saturday.

June 18, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , | 1 Comment

Air duct corrosion and holes found at seven nuclear plants

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Corrosion is seen in a ventilation duct at the No. 3 unit of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture. | NUCLEAR REGULATION AUTHORITY
 
Corrosion and holes have been found in ventilation ducts at 12 reactors at seven nuclear plants across the country, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said Wednesday, raising concerns that workers could be exposed to radiation in the event of an accident.
The governmental nuclear watchdog released the results of a nationwide survey it had ordered following a revelation in December 2016 that corrosion had left multiple holes in the air ducts of the No. 2 reactor at Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Shimane plant in western Japan. That reactor was not included in the survey.
Serious corrosion was found at the No. 3 unit of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and may have abnormally affected ventilation of the central control room, the watchdog said.
Although the No. 7 unit at the same plant has passed a test to resume operation, the NRA said it will inspect the impact of any corrosion found at the reactor. No abnormality associated with corrosion has been found at the remaining 10 units, it said.
Corrosion or holes were found in steel or galvanized steel ducts at Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa nuclear plant, Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant, Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, Chubu Electric Power Co.’s Hamaoka plant, Hokuriku Electric Power Co.’s Shiga nuclear plant and Chugoku Electric’s Shimane plant.
If an accident occurs, radioactive materials could flow into a plant’s central control room through such holes, putting workers in danger of radiation exposure.
At the No. 3 reactor at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, a crack as large as 13 centimeters in length and 5 cm in width was found. A total of nine holes and cracks have been discovered at the Nos. 3 and 7 units at the plant.
All the reactors with corrosion were boiling-water reactors, the same type used at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which spewed a massive amount of radioactive material into the atmosphere following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
No problems have been detected at pressurized-water nuclear reactors, as filtering and other measures take place near air inlets.
The holes at the No. 2 unit at the Shimane plant were discovered when insulation materials covering the ducts were removed for inspection.
The holes, the largest of which measured about 100 centimeters wide and about 30 centimeters long, are believed to have been caused by dew condensation and rainwater that seeped inside the building, as well as salt deposits on the ducts, given that the corrosion extended about 50 meters from the air inlet and spread from the inner surface of the ducts.
Chugoku Electric has decided to increase the number of inspection points at sections near fresh-air inlets and bolster anti-corrosion measures, including the installation of a dehumidifier.

May 24, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear Power Facing a Tsunami of Litigation

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March 12, 2018
Legal fallout from the March 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station continues, as dozens of lawsuits and injunctions make their way through Japan’s judicial system. The final rulings could have a profound impact on the government’s energy policy and approach to risk mitigation.
Court cases stemming from the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi can be divided broadly into two categories. In the first are efforts to assign responsibility for the accident, including one high-profile criminal case and numerous civil suits by victims seeking damages from the government and owner-operator Tokyo Electric Power Company. The second group consists of lawsuits and injunctions aimed at blocking or shutting down operations at plants other than Fukushima Daiichi (whose reactors have been decommissioned) on the grounds that they pose a grave safety threat. In the following, we briefly survey these cases and their implications.
A Foreseeable Danger?
According to lawyer Managi Izutarō, who is handling the largest class-action suit against TEPCO and the government, about 30 such cases are currently moving through courts around the nation. Most of the plaintiffs are Fukushima evacuees who filed suit in the districts to which they fled after the accident.
Meanwhile, TEPCO’s former chairman and two former vice-presidents are facing charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury in a criminal case currently before the Tokyo District Court. Tokyo prosecutors initially declined to bring charges, but in an unusual reversal, they were overruled by a prosecutorial review panel composed of ordinary citizens.
In all of these cases, the pivotal issues facing the court are (1) whether TEPCO and the state could have foreseen the danger posed to the Fukushima plant by a tsunami on the order of that triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and (2) whether they could realistically have prevented a serious accident through risk-mitigation measures. The “state” in this case is the defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), the regulatory body formerly in charge of the inspection and licensing of nuclear power facilities.
Construction of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station began in 1967, when the government’s ambitious nuclear energy development program was shifting into high gear. Seismology and tsunami simulation have advanced considerably since those days, but at the time, the maximum height of any potential tsunami relevant to the Fukushima Daiichi site was estimated at a little more than 3 meters. When the facility was built, in other words, there was no way for TEPCO or the government to foresee that waves 10–15 meters in height could one day inundate the plant.
However, as scientists continued to collect and analyze data on earthquake and tsunami activity around Japan, their thinking evolved. In July 2002, a government panel of seismologists issued a report estimating a 20% chance that a magnitude-8 earthquake would trigger a dangerous tsunami off the coast of northeastern Japan within the next three decades. That August, NISA asked TEPCO to conduct a tsunami simulation for Fukushima Daiichi and other plants on the basis of that report, but TEPCO refused, and NISA did not press the matter.
When TEPCO finally did conduct such a simulation in 2008, it concluded that a major earthquake could trigger a tsunami as high as 15.7 meters, tall enough to flood the Fukushima Daiichi plant. However, the utility took no action to mitigate the risk (as by building up the facility’s seawalls or taking other measures to protect backup generators), and it failed to report the findings to NISA until early 2011, just weeks before the disaster.
Complacency and Opacity
In the wake of the Fukushima accident, NISA (since replaced by the Nuclear Regulation Authority) was faulted for its lack of independence. The agency was under the authority of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, which promotes the use of nuclear power, and officials maintain that its regulatory powers were limited. In addition, a closed, inbred environment encouraged unhealthy ties between NISA and the electric power industry. As a consequence, NISA had fallen into the habit of accommodating and supporting the utilities instead of overseeing them. TEPCO, for its part, had developed a deeply rooted culture of denial, habitually concealing information that might supply ammunition to anti-nuclear activists or fuel fears among the local citizenry. The company brushed off the warnings, convincing itself that the danger from a giant tsunami was purely hypothetical.
So far, district courts have reached decisions on three major class-action suits, and in each case they have agreed with the plaintiffs that the state and TEPCO could have foreseen the danger from a major tsunami once the 2002 report on earthquake risks was released. Two of the district courts, Maebashi and Fukushima, found both the state and TEPCO negligent for failing to prevent the meltdowns. The Chiba District Court, on the other hand, dismissed claims against the state on the grounds that the government was focusing on earthquake safety at the time and may not have been able to formulate effective measures in time to protect Fukushima Daiichi against the March 2011 tsunami. With the government and TEPCO girding up to appeal the lower courts’ decisions, the cases could drag on for years.
The final verdicts could have important ramifications in a country prone to natural disasters. Despite the scientific advances of the last few decades, our ability to predict major earthquakes, tsunami, and volcanic eruptions remains extremely limited. How can we ensure that the design and operation of existing nuclear power plants reflect the latest scientific assessments of long-term risks? Are the government and industry responsible for guarding against catastrophic events, however low their probability?
A Tsunami of Lawsuits
Attorney Managi Izutarō estimates that more than 10,000 plaintiffs are currently involved in class-action suits against TEPCO and the state. He represents 4,200 victims in the largest of these cases so far. Managi argues that allowing TEPCO to keep Fukushima Daiichi operating after learning of the risks from a tsunami was “like giving an airline permission to fly an unsafe jetliner.”
In its ruling on Managi’s case last October, the Fukushima District Court agreed that both TEPCO and the state were negligent and ordered damages paid to a majority of the plaintiffs. But the victims and their lawyers deemed the amount and scope of the damages inadequate and opted to appeal. TEPCO and the state have appealed the ruling as well.
The case now moves to the Sendai High Court. “Ultimately, we’re demanding that Fukushima Prefecture be restored to the way it was before the nuclear accident,” Managi explains. “At the same time, we’re fighting to end the use of nuclear power.”
Managi stresses the importance of mobilizing a large number of victims. “Unless you get together a big group of plaintiffs, their case won’t resonate with the judges,” says Managi. “The number of people involved in litigation and the intensity of public sentiment are key. I believe the real battle takes place outside the courtroom.”
In organizing victims into large class-action suits, Managi and others lawyers are following the same playbook that helped turn the tide against big industrial polluters in the 1960s and 1970s, when victims of Minamata disease (mercury poisoning) and itai-itai disease (cadmium poisoning) succesfully banded together to seak legal redress. Whether the current movement will have a comparable impact remains to be seen.
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Lawyer Managi Izutarō is representing 4,200 former Fukushima residents in a class-action suit against the state and Tokyo Electric Power Co.
 
Fighting Nuclear Power, One Plant at a Time
On a different but related front, citizens’ groups and other plaintiffs are vigorously pursuing lawsuits and injunctions aimed directly at shutting down nuclear power plants around the country.
Efforts to block nuclear energy development through legal action date all the way back to the 1970s. Prominent among these early cases was a citizens’ suit challenging the legality of the license granted to Shikoku Electric Power Co. to build and operate the Ikata Nuclear Power Station in Ehime Prefecture. In that case, lawyers called into question the fundamental safety of the facility, given its location near the Median Tectonic Line fault zone. The case made its way up to the Supreme Court, which finally ruled against the plaintiffs in 1992.
Safety concerns are at the core of the 30-odd “anti-nuclear” suits and injunctions currently before the nation’s courts (as of January 2018). Most cite the potential danger from major earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or tsunami, while others are calling for suspension of operations on the grounds of inadequate evacuation planning. While a few of these cases date back to the pre-Fukushima era, the majority were filed in the wake of the accident.
In December last year, the Hiroshima High Court issued an injunction suspending operations of the number 3 reactor at the aforementioned Ikata Nuclear Power Station. In its decision, the court cited the danger posed to the Shikoku facility from a massive eruption of Mount Aso, all the way across the sea in Kyūshū. Although an eruption on this scale has not occurred in recorded history, the court opined that the risk was sufficient to make the site unsuitable for a nuclear power plant. The decision did not go down well with the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which had cleared the plant for resumption of operations under new, post-Fukushima safety standards.
At present, almost all of Japan’s operable nuclear power plants are in the midst of some kind of litigation. In one case, the plaintiff is a local government: The city of Hakodate in Hokkaidō has filed a lawsuit to block the construction and operation of the Ōma Nuclear Power Station across the Tsugaru Strait in Aomori Prefecture.
Status of Japan’s Operable Nuclear Reactors
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Note: All six reactors at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station were decommissioned between 2011 and 2014.
Lawyers on a Mission
Lawyers Kawai Hiroyuki and Kaido Yūichi have been key figures in the fight against nuclear power since before the Fukushima accident. In the wake of the disaster, they founded the National Network of Counsels in Cases against Nuclear Power Plants, a group that has been pursuing legal action against nuclear facilities on behalf of citizens and other plaintiffs nationwide.
 
Kawai and Kaido are also representing the shareholders of TEPCO, who are suing the company’s former executives for an unprecedented ¥5.5 trillion. In addition, as lawyers for the Complainants for the Criminal Prosecution of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, the two attorneys are working alongside the prosecuting team in the criminal case against three TEPCO executives, which parallels the civil suit in terms of arguments, evidence, and testimony.
 
Even so, the trial—which officially opened last June and is expected to continue at least through the coming summer—is expected to attract intense media coverage as witness examinations begin this spring. More than 20 witnesses are scheduled to testify. The case also involves a massive volume of documentary evidence, including records of interviews conducted by the government’s Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station, along with countless pages of emails, internal memos, meeting minutes, and reports. Will all this information shed new light on the human factors behind the Fukushima accident? The nation will be watching closely.

March 15, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

About 50% of local bodies near nuke plants want say over reactor restarts

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In the background, from left, the No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 reactor buildings of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant are seen, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 31, 2016. In front are tanks used to store contaminated water.
Roughly 50 percent of local governments within a 30-kilometer radius of a nuclear power plant — excluding municipalities where the plant is located — want to have a say in the restarting of nuclear reactors, a Mainichi Shimbun survey has found.
Among 121 neighboring local bodies, 60 of the 119 that provided answers in the survey said that they wanted to have a say in whether nuclear reactors can be reactivated.
Since the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, the reactivation of nuclear reactors has been subject to consent from prefectures and municipalities hosting the facilities. However, taking into consideration the widespread damage and risks associated with the disaster in 2011, neighboring authorities have also been keen to get involved in the approval process.
A total of 155 local governments were targeted in the survey, which was conducted between September and November 2017 and addressed to local government heads and also to assemblies. The local authority where the Fukushima No. 1 power plant is located also took part.
Thirty-four of the 155 authorities (13 prefectural and 21 municipal) have a commercial nuclear power plant directly within their jurisdictions. The remaining 121 neighboring local bodies (eight prefectural and 113 municipal) are situated within 30 kilometers of a power plant.
Of the 155 local bodies approached, 153 local government heads — excluding those of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture and Ikeda, Fukui Prefecture — gave answers while 154 local assemblies, excluding that of Iitate, cooperated.
Local government heads were asked whether they are for or against reactor restarts at the local nuclear power plant, the extent of their local government’s involvement, and the status of any safety agreements with electric power companies. Assemblies were asked whether or not they have adopted any written statements concerning the restarting of nuclear reactors, among other questions.
Regarding the right to approve reactivation of reactors at nuclear power plants and the right to conduct on-site investigations — which have effectively already been given to mainly local governments where plants are located — the local government heads were asked if these rights should be extended to neighboring bodies as well. In response, 56 heads stated that it was necessary to grant such rights, seven said that it is partly necessary, 24 said it was unnecessary, one head did not know, 60 gave other answers, and five did not reply.
Altogether, 60 of the 63 heads who said the granting of such rights was “necessary” or “partly necessary” belong to neighboring local governments. Of these 60 local bodies, 16 said that they are against restarting nuclear reactors.
Meanwhile, of the 24 heads who said the granting of these rights was “unnecessary,” 10 belong to local governments where a nuclear power plant is located, including Fukui Prefecture — revealing a difference in attitudes between the immediate and nearby local governments.
However, of the immediate local governments, the town of Okuma in Fukushima Prefecture — which was seriously affected by the 2011 disaster — said that the rights need to be extended on the grounds that, “Once an accident happens, the impact spreads across a wide area.”
The village of Tokai in Ibaraki Prefecture — where the Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant is based — was among those that replied that it is “partly necessary” to extend the rights.

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December 31, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

NRA has nuke plant volcano checklist, but experts point to eruptions’ unpredictability

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When it comes to volcanic threats to nuclear power stations, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) requires utilities to do a lot of digging.
The NRA demands that utilities evaluate the potential risks presented by any volcanoes within 160 kilometers of a given plant. That evaluation begins with a look through the written record for any mentions of eruptions plus examining the geological features of the area to determine if there is any chance the volcano will be active again in the future. If a future eruption can’t be ruled out, then the utility must determine whether pyroclastic flows — fast moving clouds of hot gas and volcanic matter — or lava flows could reach the plant. If there is such a risk, then the plant site is labeled unsuitable and the reactors banned from going on line.
In the case of the Sendai nuclear plant’s No. 1 and 2 reactors, it was found that there were five volcanoes with histories of cataclysmic eruptions within the 160-kilometer zone. A “cataclysmic eruption” is one that spews vast amounts of magma, causing large-scale ground subsidence and creating a caldera.
NRA inspectors found that there was “sufficiently little chance” of a cataclysmic eruption that could cause a pyroclastic flow to hit the Sendai plant grounds while the station was in operation. Furthermore, the regulatory body determined that measures to deal with up to 15 centimeters of volcanic ash from the Sakurajima volcano — about 50 kilometers distant — would be enough to maintain plant safety.
The NRA also called on utilities to make preparations to shut down reactors and move the nuclear fuel out of their nuclear plants if there was any sign of an impending cataclysmic eruption detected. Sendai plant operator Kyushu Electric Power Co. assured the NRA that the utility would spot signs of such an eruption by keeping a close watch out for changes in the Earth’s crust caused by magma accumulation, and the regulator accepted this explanation.
However, some volcanologists have pointed out that it is very difficult to predict the timing or scale of a cataclysmic eruption. Furthermore, there is neither a predetermined spot to move the nuclear fuel to nor a set standard for the NRA to order reactor shutdowns.
Across Japan, the Genkai nuclear station’s No. 3 and 4 reactors (which have passed NRA safety inspections ahead of a planned restart), the No. 1 to 3 reactors at Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari nuclear plant (where the volcanic risk inspection has nearly been completed), and the No. 2 unit at the Shimane nuclear power station run by Chugoku Electric Power Co. are all close to volcanoes with calderas. However, the NRA has never declared a plant site unfit due to the threat of volcanic activity.
Regarding the Hiroshima High Court’s Dec. 13 decision to order Shikoku Electric Power Co. to shut the No. 3 reactor at its Ikata power plant in Ehime Prefecture, NRA chief Toyoshi Fuketa told reporters, “I am not directly concerned (with the case) so I am not in a position to comment.” He added that the ruling would have “no effect” on NRA inspections.
Hokkaido University specially appointed professor of nuclear reactor engineering Tadashi Narabayashi, meanwhile, said the court decision was the product of “logical leaps.”
“Stopping (reactor) operation based on personal rights requires an imminent danger,” Narabayashi wrote in a comment to the Mainichi Shimbun. “It’s difficult to say that the chance of a cataclysmic eruption, which is thought to happen only about once in 10,000 years, meets that definition. The Ikata plant’s No. 3 unit is protected from falling volcanic material and has an enhanced reactor core cooling system, so there is simply no probability of an incident that would endanger the lives of the people in the city of Matsuyama or Hiroshima.”
Meanwhile, Kobe University magma specialist Yoshiyuki Tatsumi praised the court ruling as “based on scientific knowledge grounded in current volcanology.”
“There is about a 1 percent chance of a cataclysmic eruption in Japan in the next 100 years, so mathematically speaking, one could happen at any time,” he continued. “At present, we do not know what kinds of signs would portend such an eruption. It is also unknown how much magma has built up under Mount Aso (in Kumamoto Prefecture), so the government needs to strengthen its observations there among other measures.”

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | 2 Comments

Japan’s quiet payouts to cities near nuclear plants fuels speculation of political ploy

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Shimane and Tottori prefectures hold a joint drill in Hoki, Tottori Prefecture, in October 2015 for residents living near nuclear power plants in the prefectures. The government has expanded a state subsidy for cities hosting plants to include municipalities within a 30 km radius.
In an apparent bid to win support for the restart of nuclear power plants, the state has quietly expanded the scope of subsidies for host cities to include local governments within 30 kilometers of the facilities, a charge the government denied Friday.
The change came into force in April with no announcement to the media from the industry ministry, fueling speculation that it was meant to assuage the concerns of municipalities surrounding host cities about plants taken offline in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.
A government official, however, denied this speculation.
“We reviewed the system after learning that nuclear power plants also influence surrounding areas,” the official, with the industry ministry’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy said, adding that the change had been reported on the ministry’s website and that local governments were briefed.
Under the shift, more than 150 local governments are entitled to the subsidy, for which ¥4.5 billion ($40 million) was allocated in the fiscal 2017 budget, the same amount as in fiscal 2016. The ministry has requested a ¥5 billion budget for fiscal 2018.
According to the agency, the program began in fiscal 2016, mainly to promote renewable energy and other measures to revitalize the economies of municipalities hosting nuclear power plants when the facilities are scrapped due to old age.
Utilities face a constant cycle of reactors going online or offline through decommissioning or the suspension of operations. For example, at Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s nuclear plant in Shimane Prefecture, the No. 1 unit is set to be decommissioned as the operator seeks to restart its No. 2 unit.
The change from fiscal 2017 allowed the subsidies to be paid out to towns and villages within 30 km of a nuclear complex, in addition to the host prefectural governments.
To gain approval for restarts, utilities effectively need to obtain consent from prefectural and municipal governments hosting the nuclear complexes, although such efforts are not required by law.
Since the 2011 nuclear disaster, which caused damage to a wide area, surrounding municipalities have stepped up calls for a stronger voice in deciding whether to resume nuclear reactor operations.
But the state and utilities are reluctant to expand the scope of municipalities from which they need to obtain consent, saying that doing so would make restarts exceedingly difficult.

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