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Scrapping of Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant a chance to boost reconstruction

August 02, 2019
All the nuclear power plants that had operated in Fukushima Prefecture will be decommissioned. This should mark the end of one chapter and promote progress in the area’s reconstruction from the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
At a board meeting, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. formally decided to scrap all four reactors at the utility’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant.
Although the power plant was damaged in the 2011 catastrophe, it escaped the kind of major accident that befell the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. After the disaster, the No. 2 plant served as a rear support base for the No. 1 plant.
TEPCO probably intended to restart operations at the No. 2 plant to help lift its profitability. However, the prefecture and local authorities passed a string of resolutions calling on TEPCO to retire the nuclear plant, so the decision to decommission the reactors can be described as unavoidable.
Decommissioning of the No. 2 plant will be done at the same time as the No. 1 plant is being scrapped. Nuclear fuel at the No. 1 plant melted, so decommissioning work there will be considerably more difficult than it would at undamaged reactors. People are unable to approach the reactor cores because of high radiation levels, so removing the melted fuel will be done by remote control. This is a special situation without precedent anywhere in the world.
Sophisticated technology will be needed to carry out decommissioning work under such extreme conditions. Perhaps this should be considered from the perspective of being an opportunity to make the surrounding area a central hub for decommissioning technologies.
Major domestic manufacturers have been developing technologies such as robots that can enter and inspect the reactor cores. Foreign companies keen to acquire knowledge about decommissioning technologies also are interested in this process.
Treated water still problem
A local plant construction company will be involved in some of the demolition work that has started at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The company plans to use special cutting equipment it developed to steadily dismantle a 120-meter-tall exhaust stack next to a reactor building.
If more orders for work like this were placed with local companies, it would create new industries and jobs and give impetus to the region’s recovery.
Decommissioning the reactors will take 40 years. Continually securing the required human resources also will be a challenging task.
For the time being, the biggest problem will be disposing of contaminated water that has been generated ever since the nuclear accident.
More than 1 million tons of treated water — contaminated water that has undergone purification — is being stored in more than 900 huge tanks. These tanks occupy much of the ground at the Fukushima No. 1 plant and are becoming an impediment to decommissioning work.
There is a limit to the storage space available for this water. Fishing cooperatives and other groups oppose the option of discharging into the sea treated water containing amounts of the radioactive substance tritium diluted to below the government’s standard. If the sea discharge is to go ahead, the government must carefully explain the situation to gain the understanding of local residents and groups.
The decision to scrap the Fukushima No. 2 plant brings the number of nuclear reactors locked in for decommissioning to 24 — almost half of the reactors in Japan. From the viewpoint of ensuring a stable supply of energy, it is necessary to seek the restart of the remaining nuclear plants after making sure they are safe to operate.

August 3, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | 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.
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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

TEPCO to scrap Onagawa NPP’s reactor#1

The 3 reactors at the plant in northeastern Japan have been offline since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and they ain’t comin’ back!
onagawa npp, miyagi pref
Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa Nuclear Power Station is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, on March 11, 2011.

Utility plans to scrap reactor at Onagawa plant

October 25, 2018
Tohoku Electric Power Company has told Miyagi Prefecture that it is going to decommission an aging reactor at its Onagawa nuclear power plant.
The 3 reactors at the plant in northeastern Japan have been offline since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The utility’s president, Hiroya Harada, conveyed its decision to Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai on Thursday.
Harada explained that additional safety steps would create technical difficulties as the No.1 reactor is more than 30 years old. The measures are required under government regulations that were introduced after the 2011 disaster.
Murai asked Tohoku Electric Power to put top priority on safety in scrapping the reactor as the work is expected to take a long time. The governor also asked the utility to properly disclose information and maintain stable power supplies.
The utility hopes to put the 2 other reactors back into operation. The No.2 reactor is being checked by the nuclear regulator, and the firm is preparing to apply for an inspection of the No.3 reactor.
Utilities have decided to decommission 10 reactors at 7 plants, including Onagawa, since the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. They cite the huge cost of additional safety measures. These figures do not include the all 6 reactors at Fukushima Daiichi.

Tohoku Electric to scrap aging No. 1 unit at Onagawa nuclear plant

October 25, 2018
SENDAI (Kyodo) — Tohoku Electric Power Co. said Thursday it will scrap the idled No. 1 unit at its Onagawa nuclear power plant in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Miyagi, more than 30 years after it began operation.
The company cited difficulties in taking additional safety measures as well as the relatively small output of the reactor that would make the business unprofitable. Tohoku Electric President Hiroya Harada conveyed its decision to Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai.
“We decided to decommission (the reactor) at a board meeting today. We took into consideration technical restrictions associated with additional safety measures, output and the years in use,” Harada said when the men met at the prefectural government office.
For its resumption, the company has been required to expand safety measures at the unit under stricter standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Under the standards, Japanese nuclear reactors are not allowed, in principle, to operate for more than 40 years.
Having entered into operation in June 1984, the boiling water reactor with an output of 524,000 kilowatts is the oldest among four units operated by the utility.
The utility said in a statement that the No. 1 unit lacked additional space to set up fire extinguishing equipment and infrastructure to secure power supply.
Harada told a press conference on Sept. 27 that decommissioning was an option as the unit’s age made it difficult to implement the required safety measures.
In the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, the basement floors of the Onagawa plant’s No. 2 unit were flooded. The company is building a 29-meter sea wall to guard the complex.
Tohoku Electric aims to resume operations of the No. 2 unit at the three-reactor Onagawa plant in fiscal 2020 at the earliest, and the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the country’s nuclear watchdog, has been screening its safety measures.

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

Tepco denies it plans to scrap reactor at Fukushima Daini


Tokyo Electric Power : Tepco denies it plans to scrap reactor at plant close to crippled Fukushima site

TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo Electric Power Co Holdings on Friday denied a media report that it was set to decommission a nuclear reactor that suffered only minor damage compared with the nearby Fukushima Daiichi plant that was wrecked after a massive quake in 2011.

The Mainichi newspaper reported earlier that Tepco was likely to decommission the No.1 reactor at the Fukushima Daini power plant as it was the worst-hit of the facility’s four reactors after the quake and tsunami, temporarily losing cooling functions.

Local governments have been calling for the decommission of all four reactors at Fukushima Daini. The government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have also pressed Tepco to make a decision on decommissioning the No.1 reactor.

Dozens of reactors elsewhere in Japan are still going through a relicensing process by a new regulator set up after the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the world’s worst since Chernobyl 25 years previously, highlighted regulatory and operational failings by the country’s nuclear utilities.

March 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukui poised to benefit from decision to scrap Monju


Big money pull a million strings
Big money weave a mighty web
Big money draw the flies
— Rush, “The Big Money”

Last month’s announcement that the Monju experimental fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, would likely be decommissioned was an acknowledgement of what had been obvious for decades. Namely, that Monju was too fraught with technical and political problems to have ever stood a chance of success.

For Kansai, the decision brought a feeling of relief among those concerned about a plutonium-producing plant in their backyard, but a feeling of “now what?” among everyone else. No political leader in Osaka, Kyoto, Nara or Kobe either wistfully eulogized or passionately protested the recommendation that Monju, which has cost more than ¥1 trillion, be scrapped. In Fukui, however, it was a different story.

For more than four decades, Fukui’s leaders have finessed the art of extracting (extorting?) as much money from Tokyo as possible in exchange for cooperation in continuing not only Monju but also 13 commercial nuclear reactors, a concentration of nuclear power plants said to be the densest in the world.

Massive amounts of tax money were funneled into the prefecture by the Liberal Democratic Party for all sorts of uses. Some were noble (construction of modern train stations, schools, hospitals and social welfare facilities). Some were corrupt (propaganda museums that played down the risks of nuclear power, all expense-paid “study” tours to Europe’s nuclear reactor towns for local residents that included sightseeing trips to Paris).

Nobody really knows how much money, directly and indirectly, went to Fukui and Tsuruga over the decades for “bearing the burden of Monju.” Unofficial guesses put the figure in the billions of yen. But what has residents in Kansai, and elsewhere, concerned is how much it will cost them, in the form of future government payoffs to Fukui, to be rid of Monju.

The prefecture certainly has friends in high places looking out for its interests. Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, a favorite of Shinzo Abe, represents Fukui’s 1st district. That’s the one without nuclear power plants, but she’s very close to those in Fukui who support them. Then there’s Tsuyoshi Takagi, who served as reconstruction minister. He’s from Tsuruga and represents Fukui’s 2nd district in the Lower House, an area that hosts those 13 commercial nuclear reactors. In short, Fukui has powerful allies who will work hard to ensure all manner of new funding flows to the prefecture and to Tsuruga over the coming decades.

Making matters better for Fukui but worse for taxpayers elsewhere, three commercial reactors will be decommissioned over the next few decades. You can be sure Fukui politicians from the governor on down are drawing up a long wish-list of pork barrel projects they will demand the central government, as well operator Kansai Electric Power Co., fork out in exchange for consenting to each reactor’s decommissioning plans — plans that might include disposing high-level radioactive waste generated by decommissioning in Fukui, over the objections of residents.

In short, decommissioning means big money for Fukui in the years ahead in the form of subsidies, jobs and service-industry income. And not just at Monju, where the basic cost was recently estimated at ¥540 billion.

With predictions it might cost ¥8 trillion to scrap the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and perhaps a dozen commercial reactors probably heading for the scrap heap in the next decade, Japan has entered the “age of nuclear power decommissioning.”

There’s big money involved that will draw a swarm of flies, especially in towns and prefectures hosting the power plants. Taxpayers elsewhere, therefore, will need to be especially vigilant and handy with the flyswatters and insect repellent.

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Japan considers scrapping fast-breeder reactor as costs mount

fast breeder reactor monju npp.jpg


The government is considering scrapping the troubled Monju fast-breeder reactor after calculating that readying it for restart would cost several hundred billion yen, sources said Monday.

A political decision on decommissioning the reactor is now in sight, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga joining talks to determine its fate, the sources said.

The facility in Fukui Prefecture has been beset by safety problems and has only been operational for a total of 250 days since it first went critical in 1994.

Decommissioning Monju would deal a serious blow to the nation’s vaunted fuel cycle policy, in which the reactor was designed to play a central role. The plan is to develop a commercial fast-breeder reactor that produces more plutonium than it consumes.

The science ministry has been trying to find a new entity to run the reactor, which is currently operated by the government-backed Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

The ministry was ordered to do this by the Nuclear Regulation Authority in November, after the NRA expressed exasperation with the operator’s consistent failure to make the plant a success.

Nuclear safety has been a hot-button issue in Japan in the wake of the disaster in 2011 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The ministry has been consulting a panel of energy experts on whether to keep Monju alive or to scrap it but has failed to identify a new entity to take over management.

In either case, substantial amounts of money are needed. The agency estimated in 2012 that it would cost around ¥300 billion to scrap the reactor in a process lasting over 30 years.

Safety problems included a major fire caused by a sodium leak in 1995.

The total of 250 operational days has come at a cost of more than ¥1 trillion in building and maintenance costs.

If Monju restarts operations, the ministry says its fuel must be replaced. In the event of a restart, new guidelines for fast-breeder reactors must also be created and any related construction will have to reflect these guidelines.

Making the building’s facilities meet the new guidelines will likely cost nearly ¥100 billion, the sources said, adding there would be further expenses for replacing old equipment.

August 30, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment