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Japan’s nuclear power plants are “not designed for war” and if attacked by missiles, “radioactive materials will be scattered

KEPCO’s Takahama Nuclear Power Plant

March 9, 2022
At a meeting of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Economy, Trade, and Industry on March 9, Chairman Toyoshi Sarada of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said, “There is concern that radioactive materials will be spread” in the event of a missile attack on a nuclear power plant in Japan. We do not believe that this can be avoided with the current facilities. This was in response to Makoto Yamazaki of the Democratic Party of Japan’s Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, who asked a question in response to an attack on a nuclear power plant by Russian forces that invaded Ukraine.

 The government has explained that it is taking counterterrorism measures for nuclear power plants in Japan, but has not clearly stated the danger of a military attack. Mr. Sarada explained to the METI Committee that “we do not envision an armed attack due to a conflict between two countries (in terms of safety) in our examinations,” he said. If a nuclear power plant is occupied, “the entire control of the plant will be seized. After that, any situation is inevitable.

 Defense Vice Minister Makoto Oniki responded that improvements in missile technology have made it more difficult to intercept missiles and that “we will not rule out any options, including an enemy base attack capability, and will consider them in a realistic manner. Yamazaki insisted, “When we consider the risk of attacks from earthquakes, terrorism, and wars such as this one, we still have to close nuclear power plants. (Nobuko Ohno)

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

Japan now has 16 reactors that meet requirements

November 11, 2020

Japan now has 16 reactors at nine nuclear power plants that have cleared government requirements adopted after the 2011 Fukushima accident.

The No.2 reactor at Tohoku Electric Power Company’s Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture, and the reactor at Japan Atomic Power Company’s Tokai No.2 plant in Ibaraki Prefecture were affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Tokai No.2 has yet to win local consent to restart.

Tohoku Electric’s Higashidori plant in Aomori Prefecture, also a part of the Fukushima disaster zone, is undergoing screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

Reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear plants are set to be scrapped.

Reactors that have already been put back online are: the No.1 and No.2 units at the Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture; the No.3 and No.4 units at the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture; the No.3 and No.4 units at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture; the No.3 and No.4 units at the Ohi plant, also in Fukui Prefecture; and the No.3 unit at the Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture.

The Sendai and Genkai plants are operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company, the Takahama and Ohi plants by Kansai Electric Power Company and the Ikata plant by Shikoku Electric Power Company.

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Suga: Japan has no plan for new nuclear plants

Nov. 4, 2020

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has ruled out new nuclear plants or new reactors for Japan at this point, as the country aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Suga was answering questions from Constitutional Democratic Party leader Edano Yukio in the Lower House Budget Committee on Wednesday.

Edano urged an early end to Japan’s reliance on nuclear power. He noted that many people who were forced to evacuate after the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are still unable to go back home. He said it is inconceivable to build a new nuclear plant.

Suga said he has declared that Japan would become carbon neutral by 2050, despite differing views within his Liberal Democratic Party. He stressed the government has no plan to build any nuclear plant.

In the same committee, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Kajiyama Hiroshi said his ministry will continue efforts to upgrade safety so that nuclear power would remain an option in 2050. He said the efforts will include development of new technologies, such as advanced innovative reactors.

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

There are 15 nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture.

By Akihiko Tamai

Fukui SEISMIC INTENSITY 5 weak epicenter, fault expert, chain warning ′′ it can be connected to a big earthquake ′′

According to Professor Taku Okamoto (Earthquake) of fukui college of technology, there is a fault in the hirano part of the epicenter of the earthquake that observed the maximum SEISMIC INTENSITY OF 5 in Fukui Prefecture on the morning of September 4th It was possible to wake up In the future, if the earthquake of magnitude (M) 5 0 class is frequent, it is a chain with the surrounding fault, and it is pointed out that ′′ it can be connected to a big earthquake like the kumamoto earthquake 5

According to Professor Okamoto, the next wave that does not appear if it is not a fault-specific structure near the epicenter of this time is observed in the past earthquake, and in the west rim of fukui hirano, it is a fault that penetrates the confluence of the kuzuryu and hinogawa to the north It is said that there is a.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, this earthquake is a ′′ reverse fault type ′′ that is pushed from both sides and moves in the upper and lower direction. Professor Okamoto points out that the fault of the fukui hirano west rim may have caused the fault of the estimated fault and epicenter.

The Epicenter of this time is about 5 km away from the fukui hirano fault belt, which caused the fukui earthquake on June 28, 1948, and it is not directly related. Also, the earthquake of 4 or more seismic intensity that epicenter the north of the north of the north of the north of the north of the north of the north of the

The current situation is close to the earthquake of the shaking aftershocks, but in the future, if there is a similar earthquake as this time, there is a sabae fault in the south, so it is pointed out that ′′ chain leads to a big earthquake On Top of that, ′′ I need to carefully look at the progression of aftershocks activities for 1 OR 2 weeks

The earthquake is also called ′′ emergency earthquake breaking news is not in time In the future of aftershocks, I’m calling ′′ if you feel the tremor, I want you to lower your posture and take action to protect your head (Fukui Shimbun September 5)

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

No long-term prospects in Japan for reusing, storing spent MOX fuel

hhlmùùA spent nuclear fuel rod is seen stored in a pool at the No. 3 reactor building at the Ikata Nuclear Power Plant in the Ehime Prefecture town of Ikata on Jan. 14, 2020

January 15, 2020

There are no prospects that spent mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel, made by reprocessing spent nuclear material, can be further reprocessed and reused for nuclear power generation in accordance with the Japanese government’s energy policy. Storing such fuel for a long period has thus raised safety concerns.

Shikoku Electric Power Co. showed work to replace and store MOX fuel in the No. 3 reactor building at its Ikata Nuclear Power Plant to media outlets on Jan. 14.

It was the first time that the company has removed spent MOX fuel since it began to use MOX fuel — produced by extracting plutonium and other reusable nuclear materials from spent nuclear fuel and mixing them with uranium — for commercial power generation at the plant.

An employee operated a crane to extract MOX fuel rods, each of which is about 4.1 meters long and weighs some 700 kilograms, from the reactor core and transfer them into a storage pool one by one inside the reactor building.

According to the company, work to extract spent nuclear fuel rods began on the evening of Jan. 13, and will have removed 16 rods by Jan. 16. In early March five new rods will be inserted into the core. The firm will keep cooling down spent MOX fuel in the pool for more than 10 years.

However, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has expressed concerns that the storage of spent MOX fuel in the pool over such a long period is highly dangerous. In case of a power blackout, the temperature of the water in the pool could not be maintained at a certain level and it would become unable to cool the fuel just as was the case with the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

“From the viewpoint of safety, it’s undesirable that a large number of such rods are preserved,” said NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa.

Furthermore, spent MOX fuel generates heat about three to five times that generated by ordinary used nuclear fuel. In case of trouble with a cooling system, such MOX fuel would be far more dangerous than conventional spent nuclear material.

Nevertheless, an employee of an electric power company confessed that the firm “has no leeway to think about what it should do after cooling down spent MOX fuel.”

Pools holding spent fuel at nuclear power plants are almost full, and utilities operating atomic power stations are struggling to find places to store the material.

The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC) intends to use MOX fuel in 16 to 18 nuclear reactors across the country. Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) and Chubu Electric Power Co. had planned to use MOX fuel in the No. 3 reactor at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Niigata Prefecture, and the No. 4 unit at the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, respectively.

However, such fuel is being used at only four reactors — Ikata’s No. 3 reactor, the No. 3 and 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture and the No. 3 unit at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai complex in Saga Prefecture.

If MOX fuel is used at more reactors, the amount of spent material will keep increasing. However, utilities are dealing with the problem by shifting fuel whose heat generation volume has declined to facilities where the spent fuel is air-cooled.

The government is aiming to reprocess spent MOX fuel to reuse it in an effort to “effectively utilize resources.” If spent nuclear fuel including MOX fuel were to be disposed of as radioactive waste, the government’s atomic power policy based on the assumption that spent nuclear fuel should be reused would waver.

Japan and France are the only countries in the world that are still working on the extraction of reusable nuclear materials from spent MOX fuel. Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy will have allocated a total of 1.4 billion yen from state budgets in fiscal 2019 and 2020 for basic research on reuse of spent MOX fuel, and will earmark more funds through fiscal 2024.

However, it remains to be seen how far such technology can be developed in the foreseeable future.

“There have been no research achievements enabling the commercial use of the technology,” said an official of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

Even if the technology to reuse spent MOX fuel is developed, there is a possibility that sufficient funds will not be secured to put it into commercial use unless idled nuclear power stations are restarted steadily because massive amounts of money are needed just for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. Many atomic power stations remain offline because safety regulatory standards for such facilities have been stiffened following the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011.

An official of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy said the reprocessing and reuse of spent MOX fuel is not a priority.

“There is approximately 19,000 metric tons of ordinary spent nuclear fuel that hasn’t been reprocessed in Japan, and priority is placed on reprocessing such material into MOX fuel. The volume of spent MOX fuel is extremely small, and we’re not working fast enough to consider how to reuse such fuel,” said the official.

(Japanese original by Yuichi Nakagawa and Ryoko Kijima, Matsuyama Bureau, and Suzuko Araki, Riki Iwama and Yuka Saito, Science & Environment News Department)

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Costs for managing Japan’s nuclear plants to total 13 trillion yen

KYODO NEWS Jan 15, 2020

The total costs to implement government-mandated safety measures, maintain facilities and decommission commercially operated nuclear power plants in Japan will reach around 13.46 trillion yen ($123 billion), a Kyodo News tally showed Wednesday.

The amount, which could balloon further and eventually lead to higher electricity fees, was calculated based on financial documents from 11 power companies that own 57 nuclear reactors at 19 plants, as well as interviews with the utilities.

Two years after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, the Japanese government introduced new safety standards which made measures against natural disasters and major accidents mandatory for restarting reactors.

The power companies have been given the option of either maintaining their idled nuclear power plants and restarting them once they had implemented the required safety measures, or decommissioning their plants.

But it has become clear either choice required massive costs. Of the total costs, 5.4 trillion yen was for safety measures implemented as of last month at 15 power plants they are trying to restart.

Decommissioning costs for 17 reactors belonging to nine nuclear power plants, which were deemed too expensive to implement safety measures for, totaled around 849.2 billion yen. As the estimated costs for decommissioning the No. 1 to No. 4 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. differ, they were not included in the figure.

Maintenance costs, which will not only apply to restarted plants in operation but also to idled ones and those in the process of being decommissioned, are required for 54 reactors at 17 plants. Those under construction were excluded.

In the six years from fiscal 2013, when the new regulations were introduced, they totaled around 7.2 trillion yen.

The costs include labor, repairs and others considered nuclear power plant expenses as shown in each company’s annual securities report. But plant depreciation costs and a reserve for dismantling facilities were subtracted as they overlapped with some expenses for safety measures and decommissioning.

Maintenance fees will be required every year moving forward and are expected to continue to grow from the annual costs of around 1 trillion yen across the 11 utilities.

The total costs could further rise by several hundred billion yen as money needed to construct anti-terrorist facilities, also required under the new safety standards, was not included in the figures of some of the companies.

The majority of the 17 reactors at nine power plants slated for decommissioning are aging and they also include four at the Fukushima Daini complex, which local officials requested to be scrapped.

gjmjijpFile photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter on May 30, 2019, shows the No. 3 (L) and No. 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan.

The total costs to implement government-mandated safety measures, maintain facilities and decommission commercially operated nuclear power plants in Japan will reach around 13.46 trillion yen ($123 billion), a Kyodo News tally showed Wednesday.

The amount, which could balloon further and eventually lead to higher electricity fees, was calculated based on financial documents from 11 power companies that own 57 nuclear reactors at 19 plants, as well as interviews with the utilities.

Two years after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, the Japanese government introduced new safety standards which made measures against natural disasters and major accidents mandatory for restarting reactors.

The power companies have been given the option of either maintaining their idled nuclear power plants and restarting them once they had implemented the required safety measures, or decommissioning their plants. But it has become clear either choice required massive costs.

Of the total costs, 5.4 trillion yen was for safety measures implemented as of last month at 15 power plants they are trying to restart.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

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

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.

June 20, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Counterterrorism requirement puts financial strain on nuclear power plant operators

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

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

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.
july 2018.png
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

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’

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

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

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