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Fukui disaster drill for simultaneous atomic accidents ends

Like the one they did in 2011???
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People are helped into a Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter as part a two-day evacuation drill for multiple nuclear accidents in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, on Saturday.
Aug 26, 2018
FUKUI – A nuclear disaster drill for simultaneous accidents at the Oi and Takahama nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture ended Sunday after mobilizing 21,000 people.
It was the first disaster response drill designed for serious simultaneous accidents at multiple plants since the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011.
The drill involved about 21,000 people including residents and officials from the Cabinet Office, the Nuclear Regulation Authority and municipal governments.
Sunday’s exercise focused on evacuating residents from Fukui and surrounding prefectures. It also involved personnel aboard the Maritime Self-Defense Force minesweeper tender Bungo, which was deployed to provide first aid to “injured” participants who were ferried there by helicopter.
In the town of Takahama, 20 residents were flown to Osaka on a Ground Self-Defense Force CH-47J chopper and bused to Sanda in Hyogo on the assumption that a evacuation route was cut off by a landslide.
Preparations involving the Oi and Takahama plants, both managed by Kansai Electric Power Co., are deemed necessary as they are just 13.5 km away from each other.
The exercise assumed radioactive substances were released after an earthquake in northern Kyoto knocked out the cooling systems of the two plants’ reactors.
As part of the drill, task forces created at the two plants’ off-site emergency response centers were integrated into Oi’s task force.
Katsunori Yamamoto, 64, who runs a nursing home 5 km from the Takahama plant, played one of his residents. He was evacuated to Tsuruga by a wheelchair-accessible van driven by a Kansai Electric worker.
“I want to assess risks to our nursing home residents,” he said.
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August 28, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

No Fukui evac plan needed for simultaneous nuclear accidents: Cabinet documents

 
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Government officials see no need to draft a new evacuation plan for the possibility of simultaneous nuclear accidents taking place at the Takahama (above) and Oi nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture.
 
FUKUI – The central government and the Fukui Prefectural Government have determined there is no need to craft a new evacuation plan in case of a twin nuclear accident there, Cabinet Office documents show.
In a meeting last month, state and prefectural officials confirmed that a simultaneous accidents at the Takahama and Oi nuclear power plants can be dealt with under the plants’ existing evacuation plans, which were compiled separately by each plant, said the documents, which were obtained Sunday.
The meeting involved officials from the Cabinet Office, the Fukui, Shiga and Kyoto prefectural governments, and Kansai Electric Power Co., which runs the atomic plants.
The consensus at the meeting was that simultaneous nuclear accidents can be dealt with under the existing plans because the evacuation sites don’t overlap, a Fukui prefectural official said.
The two nuclear plants are about 13.5 km apart. About 160,000 to 180,000 people live within 30 km from each of the plants.

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

KEPCO studying moving spent nuclear fuel from Fukui to Aomori

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Kansai Electric Power Co. is considering transferring spent nuclear fuel stored in its three nuclear plants in Fukui Prefecture to an intermediate storage facility in Aomori Prefecture, sources said on Jan. 6.
KEPCO had promised to move the fuel outside the prefecture when the Fukui prefectural government allowed the utility to restart two reactors at its Oi nuclear power plant.
KEPCO President Shigeki Iwane has said that a facility will be secured by the end of 2018 to accept the fuel.
According to the sources, KEPCO is also considering other locations. However, the intermediate storage facility, located in Mutsu in northern Aomori Prefecture, is a promising candidate because it has already been constructed.
However, since consent from local governments is required, KEPCO could face difficulties in transferring the fuel to the facility.
At present, KEPCO is storing spent nuclear fuel, which is produced in its Takahama, Oi and Mihama nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture, in pools in their compounds. However, about 70 percent of the capacity of those pools have been filled.
If the restarts of the reactors in the plants proceed as expected, the remaining 30 percent will also be filled in about seven years. Therefore, KEPCO is trying to secure an intermediate storage facility to temporarily store the fuel by putting it in metal containers.
The intermediate storage facility in Mutsu was jointly constructed by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and Japan Atomic Power Co. at a cost of about 100 billion yen ($884.6 million) to store spent nuclear fuel produced by their nuclear plants.
However, acceptance of the fuel from those plants has yet to start because the facility is currently undergoing screenings to see if it is in compliance with new safety standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The intermediate storage facility has a capacity of accepting a total of 5,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel.
KEPCO is considering securing storage space there by purchasing part of the shares of a company that will operate the facility.

January 8, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Kansai Electric used possibly falsified Mitsubishi Materials products at reactors

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Kansai Electric Power Co said on Wednesday it has used parts in important safety equipment at two of its nuclear plants that were supplied by a unit of Mitsubishi Materials Corp with possibly falsified data.
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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Kansai Electric Power Co said on Wednesday it has used parts in important safety equipment at two of its nuclear plants that were supplied by a unit of Mitsubishi Materials Corp with possibly falsified data.
Mitsubishi Materials Corp. President Akira Takeuchi (2nd R) bows with Executive Vice President Naoki Ono (2nd L), Mitsubishi Shindoh Co. President Kazumasa Hori (L) and Mitsubishi Cable Industries Ltd. President Hiroaki Murata during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan November 24, 2017.
The utility has found it is using rubber seals from Mitsubishi Cable Industries with possible falsified specifications in dozens of locations at its Takahama and Ohi nuclear plants, a spokesman said, confirming Japanese media reports.
The discovery comes after Kansai Electric delayed the restart of one of the nuclear power stations because it needs to make checks on parts supplied by Japan’s Kobe Steel Ltd, which, like Mitsubishi Materials, is embroiled in a scandal over product specifications.
The utility has told Japan’s nuclear regulator that it has not found any immediate safety issues, the spokesman said.
Kansai Electric receives rubber seals from multiple suppliers and is having difficulties identifying which ones come from Mitsubishi Materials, he said. The company does not plan to switch suppliers, the spokesman said.
Rubber seals are used in large numbers in the extensive piping found in nuclear reactors and their cooling systems and can be subject to high temperatures and pressure.
Mitubishi Materials and Mitsubishi Cable both declined to comment on Wednesday.
Mitsubishi Materials previously said it had discovered that products with falsified specifications had been sent to more than 300 of its customers.
That was the latest in a slew of scandals to rock Japan’s manufacturing industry. Apart from Kobe Steel, similar lapses on specifications have been found at Toray Industries Inc and incorrect final inspection procedures were discovered by automakers Nissan Motor Co and Subaru Corp.
Kansai Electric’s delays and checks on Ohi reactors are further hitches to the protracted reboot of Japan’s nuclear sector, shut down in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011.
Kansai Electric does not plan to close down the Takahama station for checks, or expect any additional delays on the restart of Ohi, the spokesman said.

December 21, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Greenpeace: Takahama & Sendai reactors must be shut down immediately following Kobe Steel scandal

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Tokyo, 1 December 2017 – On 30 November, Kansai Electric and Kyushu Electric announced that they are delaying the restart of four nuclear reactors for approximately two months due to ongoing investigations into Kobe Steel components. Greenpeace is calling for the immediate shutdown of operating reactors, owned by these same utilities, that may also have defective Kobe Steel components at the Takahama and Sendai plants.
While Kansai Electric has delayed operation of Ohi 3 and 4 reactors, it continues to operate its two reactors at Takahama. Similarly, Kyushu Electric has delayed operation of Genkai 3 and 4, while continuing to operate its two reactors at Sendai. 
“If Kansai Electric and Kyushu Electric are delaying restart of the Ohi and Genkai reactors due to the need to conduct investigations, how can they justify continued operation of the reactors at Takahama and Sendai?  The NRA has so far failed in its responsibilities as a regulator to get to grips with this rapidly evolving scandal. It must set aside nuclear industry interests and prioritize inspections. That includes shutting down operating reactors that may have defective parts until and unless safety can be guaranteed.” said Kazue Suzuki, Energy Campaigner Greenpeace Japan.
More than a month ago, Greenpeace Japan warned that there were potentially major safety risks with Kobe Steel components installed in reactors that warranted strong intervention by the NRA.[1] On 24 October, Greenpeace Japan, along with other citizens groups, submitted evidence to the NRA of Kobe Steel’s extensive supply chain to the nuclear industry, demonstrating the pervasiveness of the potential problems.[2] We called on the agency to take urgent action to launch a comprehensive investigation into the supply and widespread use of potentially flawed Kobe Steel products in the Japanese nuclear industry. Included in the demands were calls for the suspension of restart plans for the Ohi, Genkai reactors, and shutdown of the four reactors Takahama and Sendai.
As of today, the NRA has yet to issue detailed written instructions to all reactor operators to investigate the use of potentially faulty Kobe Steel components. Instead, submissions have been made by 6 of the 11 nuclear utilities and lack any substantial information and analysis.
In one example, On 13 October, it was confirmed that Shinko Metal Products Co., owned by Kobe Steel, supplied tubes to the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) for use in heat exchangers at the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant but failed to conduct required inspections.[3 & 4]
 
For further information:
[1] The letter was signed by Green Action, Mihama-no-kai, Citizens Nuclear Information Center, Citizen’s Watch on Nuclear Regulator, Friends of the Earth Japan, and Greenpeace Japan
[2] The Kobe Steel Group Supply Chain to the Nuclear Industry And Safety Implications (Greenpeace Japan Briefing Paper)
[3] See the TEPCO’s announcement (in Japanese)
[4] For more information on the risks of faulty steel in these components, see: “Irregularities and anomalies relating to nuclear reactor primary coolant circuit components installed in Japanese nuclear power plants”
 
Contacts:
Chisato Jono, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Japan, email: chisato.jono@greenpeace.org, mob: +81 (0) 80-6558-4446
 
Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist, Greenpeace Germany, email: sburnie@greenpeace.org, mob: +49 151 643 20548 (Germany)

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Secret Plutonium Fuel Shipment Planned for Japan’s Takahama Reactors

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Tokyo, 6 June 2017 – With today’s restart of the Takahama 3 reactor in Fukui Prefecture, Greenpeace revealed that the nuclear operator Kansai Electric and the French nuclear company AREVA are planning a secret plutonium fuel shipment from France to the Takahama plant. Plutonium fuel (MOX) reduces the safety of the reactor, increasing both the risk of a severe accident and its radiological consequences. The shipment is scheduled to depart Cherbourg France on 7 July.

This also presents serious security issues, both as it is a potential terrorist target and that the plutonium in the MOX fuel is direct use nuclear weapons material. Due to these risks, the U.S. State Department and other agencies are required to approve the security plan for plutonium shipments to Japan under the terms of the US – Japan Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreement of 1988. The Trump administration has approved this shipment, despite the increasingly unstable conditions in the region.

The last thing Northeast Asia needs at this time, or at any time, is more nuclear weapons-usable material. Last year, the U.S. removed 331 kilograms of  plutonium from Japan due to security risks, while ignoring the 10 tons of material that remained. One year later, at least 500 kg more plutonium is being approved for delivery to Japan. Plutonium is not your normal cargo to be traded as a commodity. It can be used as nuclear bomb material. Japan’s bankrupt plutonium program, and its endorsement by the Trump administration, is a further threat to the peace and security of this troubled region,” said Shaun Burnie, nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany in Tokyo.

The shipment comes at a time when Northeast Asia is already destabilized due to threats on the Korean peninsula, the spectre of military conflict, and the increasing risks of nuclear weapons proliferation. Japan’s decades long and multibillion dollar plutonium program has failed to ensure energy security for Japan, but it has led to the nation accumulating over 48 tons of plutonium, 10 of which is stored in Japan, and the rest in the UK and France.

This shipment will consist of at least 16 plutonium fuel (MOX) assemblies, which are planned to be loaded into the Takahama 4 reactor during its next refueling, expected in 2018. The amount of plutonium in the shipment due to leave France next month is estimated to range from between 496-736kg – as little as 5kg is sufficient for one nuclear weapon.

Two lightly armed British vessels, the Pacific Egret and Pacific Heron, are scheduled to leave the French port of Cherbourg on 7th of July, and are expected to arrive in Takahama between mid-August and early September, depending on the route chosen. One of the ships will transport the plutonium fuel, and the other will act as ‘armed escort’.

Both Takahama 3 and 4 already have plutonium MOX fuel in their cores, with 24 and 4 MOX assemblies loaded into each reactor respectively.

KEPCO’s unjustified restart of the Takahama 3 reactor is made worse by the fact that they are planning a secret plutonium shipment which will increase the amount of dangerous plutonium MOX in their reactors. The Takahama reactors already pose an unacceptable threat to the people of Fukui and Kansai region. This will be compounded by the even greater usage of plutonium MOX fuel,” said Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist with Greenpeace Germany (currently based in Japan).

Due to the severity of the impacts of a nuclear disaster involving MOX fuel, citizens groups, including Greenpeace, have demanded that AREVA release vital safety data on the MOX fuel produced for Japan, including for the Fukushima Daiichi 3 reactor and the Takahama reactors, due to evidence of flawed production and quality control during manufacture.(1) To date, AREVA has failed to release any of the safety data. AREVA also refused to release the same data for MOX fuel loaded into the Fukushima Daiichi reactor 3 in 2000. The AREVA company which has suffered a near meltdown of its business in recent years, is desperate to secure more MOX fuel contracts with Japan, which suffered as a direct consequence of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident leading to the shutdown of the Japanese reactor fleet.

Of the five reactors now operating in Japan, three are operating with varying amounts of plutonium MOX fuel. There is a possibility of additional MOX fuel being in the shipment for other Japanese reactors – Ikata 3 is operating with MOX fuel, and the Genkai 3&4 will operate with MOX fuel if they restart before March 2018.

Notes:
1 – Letter to AREVA Japan Calling for Disclosure of MOX Fuel Quality Control Data, 2016-01-28, and FUNDAMENTAL DEFICIENCIES IN THE QUALITY CONTROL OF MIXED-OXIDE NUCLEAR FUEL, Fukushima City, Japan, March 27th 2000

2 – Tokai plutonium shipment March 2016

http://m.greenpeace.org/japan/ja/high/news/press/2017/pr201706061/#.WTcEEm0pf-M.facebook

June 7, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Takahama N°3 Reactor Restarted

Kepco restarts second Takahama reactor as Greenpeace warns of French MOX fuel shipment

n-takahama-a-20170607-870x592.jpgSecurity guards stand near a gate at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, on Tuesday, prior to the restart of a reactor at the facility.

 

OSAKA – Kansai Electric Power Co. restarted its Takahama No. 3 reactor Tuesday afternoon, bringing to five the number of nuclear reactors nationwide that have come back online since the March 11, 2011, triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Today marks an important step in the process to restart Japan’s nuclear reactors. It does not mark the end of efforts to ensure the safety of nuclear power, and we’ll continue to make safety our top priority,” said Kepco President Shigeki Iwane shortly after the 2 p.m. restart.

The No. 3 restart comes less than a month after Kepco turned its No. 4 reactor back on. It also came on the heels of reports that a shipment of uranium-plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel will arrive in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, in a few months from France for use in the No. 4 reactor next year.

Kepco’s push to fire up the 32-year-old Takahama reactors came with promises it would reduce electricity bills. Electricity from the No. 4 reactor, which went back online last month, will go on sale late next week. Electricity from the No. 3 reactor is expected to be sold from early July, during the hottest part of the summer when electricity demand peaks.

Kepco’s return to nuclear power generation, which accounted for nearly half of its electricity prior to March 11, 2011, takes place as renewable energy sources slowly gain ground.

According to one recent expert tally, renewable energy, including large-scale hydropower, accounted for 14.5 percent of total domestic power generation capacity in fiscal 2015 through March 2016.

In “Sustainable Zone 2016,” a joint analysis of Japan’s renewable energy situation by Chiba University professor Hidefumi Kurasaka and the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, it was also noted that during the first half of fiscal 2016, the average ratio of renewable energy produced by the nation’s 10 utilities increased to 15.7 percent of total electricity demand. But the ratio of renewable energy, including large-scale hydropower, at Hokkaido Electric Power Co. and Hokuriku Electric Power Co. reached 32 percent during that same period.

The government’s official energy policy calls for renewables to account for between 22 and 24 percent of the country’s electricity by 2030 and for nuclear power to generate between 20 and 22 percent, on average.

On Tuesday, Greenpeace revealed that plans are moving forward to ship at least 496 kg of plutonium from France in the form of 16 MOX fuel assemblies to Japan for use in the Takahama No. 4 reactor when it is reloaded next year. Greenpeace estimates the shipment will depart Cherbourg, France, early next month and — assuming there are no delays — arrive in Takahama sometime between mid-August and early September.

Kepco’s unjustified restart of the Takahama 3 reactor is made worse by the fact that they are planning a secret plutonium shipment which will increase the amount of dangerous plutonium MOX in their reactors,” said Shaun Burnie, a Japan-based senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany. “The Takahama reactors already pose an unacceptable threat to the people of Fukui and Kansai region. This will be compounded by the even greater usage of plutonium MOX fuel.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/06/national/kepco-restarts-second-takahama-reactor-greenpeace-warns-french-mox-fuel-shipment/#.WTaLGzQlFzA

Japan restarts reactor No 3 at Takahama nuclear plant

Only a handful of reactors have come back online, due to public opposition, since the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Tuesday’s move comes after court clearance.

trtworld-nid-373118-fid-411665Japan’s coast guard patrols in front of the No 3 reactor at the nuclear plant in Takahama, Fukui prefecture, some 350 kilometres west of Tokyo on June 6, 2017

In a small victory for the government’s pro-atomic push, a Japanese utility switched on another nuclear reactor on Tuesday, despite strong public opposition after the 2011 Fukushima meltdown.

The restart of the No 3 reactor at the Takahama nuclear plant brings the number of operational atomic reactors in Japan to five, while dozens more remain offline. Located in Fukui prefecture, the plant which is operated by Kansai Electric Power (KEPCO) is some 350 kilometres (215 miles) west of Tokyo.

Tuesday’s move comes after the utility switched on Takahama’s No 4 reactor last month with the court’s go-ahead, in spite of complaints from local residents over safety concerns. The court also gave the green light to switch on the No 3 reactor.

Japan shut down all of its atomic reactors after a powerful earthquake in March 2011 spawned a huge tsunami that led to meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Fukushima became the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Since then, just a handful of reactors have come back online due to public opposition and as legal cases work their way through the courts.

However, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has aggressively promoted nuclear energy, calling it essential to powering the world’s third-largest economy.

Much of the public remains wary of nuclear power after the disaster at Fukushima spewed radiation over a large area and forced tens of thousands to leave their homes, with some unlikely to ever return.

http://trtworld.com/asia/japan-restarts-reactor-no-3-at-takahama-nuclear-plant-373118

June 6, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Fukui town mayor floats idea of dry cask storage for nuclear fuel

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FUKUI, Japan (Kyodo) — The mayor of a Fukui Prefecture town hosting a Kansai Electric Power Co. nuclear power plant where one of its reactors resumed operations just this month has floated the idea of installing dry cask storage within the plant and keeping ever increasing spent fuel there.

Takahama Mayor Yutaka Nose’s idea, though floated only as an option, is a rare one coming from someone in his position given that nuclear fuel is supposed to be moved out of a power station after it reaches the end of its usefulness after generating electricity.

At the same time, Nose has called for the central government’s greater involvement in projects to build temporary storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel outside nuclear power plants.

While Kansai Electric has said the site for its temporary storage facility to be built outside Fukui would be finalized sometime around 2020 and that the facility would begin being used around 2030, “there is no guarantee that (a municipality) outside the prefecture would agree to host the facility,” Nose said in a recent interview with Kyodo News.

But “it’ll be too late if we start thinking about (what to do with spent fuel) after (spent fuel pools) become full. We need to have a backup plan in case (the temporary storage project) goes nowhere,” he said.

Nose has effectively floated the option of building dry cask storage within the Takahama plant and keeping spent fuel there while at the same time continuing to use existing fuel cooling pools at reactors.

Dry cask storage, where spent fuel is kept in metal containers, “will reduce risks” of accidents, Nose said, on the grounds that such a storage method does not need water or electricity to keep spent fuel cooled.

In the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, reactors temporarily lost cooling functions in their spent fuel pools, putting a massive amount of fuel at risk of overheating and exposure.

“I’m responsible for the lives of town residents. Even if it is impossible to attain 100 percent safety, it is natural that we think about reducing risks. Not that we want to actively seek (spent fuel), but we have to think about the reality that (spent fuel) would remain in Takahama town,” he said.

The No. 4 reactor at the four-reactor Takahama plant resumed operations on May 17 amid persistent public concerns over the safety of nuclear power following the 2011 nuclear crisis. The plant’s No. 3 unit is scheduled to go back online in early June, while the remaining two units are expected to remain offline for the foreseeable future.

Cooling pools at the plant are capable of storing a total of 4,400 fuel assemblies but must be kept at less than capacity to allow for fuel exchange work. The pools collectively have about 2,700 assemblies already. If all four reactors begin operating there, the pools will reach their capacity within six to seven years.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170528/p2g/00m/0dm/052000c

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

KEPCO has huge responsibility in restarting nuke plants

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The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has formally approved a screening report certifying that the No. 3 and 4 reactors at Oi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture operated by Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) meet the new regulatory standards.
KEPCO restarted the No. 4 reactor at its Takahama nuclear plant, also in Fukui Prefecture, earlier this month. The utility also intends to resume operations at the Takahama plant’s No. 3 reactor next month.
KEPCO’s four nuclear reactors will be up and running possibly by the end of this year provided that the company can gain consent from the local governments hosting these plants.
The Osaka-based power company intends to restart nine reactors in Fukui Prefecture, including three aging ones. Among major power companies, KEPCO is particularly enthusiastic about relying on nuclear power again despite the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011.
However, local governments hosting these nuclear plants have failed to work out adequate plans to evacuate residents in case of a serious nuclear accident.
The Oi and Takahama plants are only about 10 kilometers away from each other. Should serious accidents occur simultaneously at these power stations due to a natural disaster or other factors, it would be extremely difficult for the utility and local governments to respond to such a critical situation. The NRA has so far failed to seriously consider problems involving the concentration of nuclear plants in a small area. It is hardly acceptable that KEPCO has been pressing forward with reactivation of its nuclear power stations one after another despite such circumstances.
KEPCO reportedly insists that it would be able to lower its electricity charges if it reactivates nuclear reactors and slashes fuel costs at its thermal power plants, thereby improving its financial situation. However, serious questions remain as to whether the management of KEPCO, which depends heavily on atomic power stations, is sustainable.
Electricity generated by nuclear power accounted for about half of all electricity KEPCO generated before the outbreak of the nuclear crisis — the highest ratio of all power companies in the country. Following the nuclear accident, KEPCO’s fuel costs sharply rose because the utility was forced to generate more power at its thermal power stations to make up for power shortages following the suspension of operations at its nuclear plants, forcing the utility to raise its power charges twice and leading it to lose a considerable number of customers. KEPCO President Shigeki Iwane says, “Our biggest business strategy is reactivating nuclear plants.”
However, the costs of wind power and solar power have kept decreasing, and investments in energy throughout the world are now concentrated on renewable energy. Furthermore, nuclear power industries in developed countries have been declining.
The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to reduce Japan’s reliance on atomic power in the long run. Measures to ensure the safety of aging reactors could cost power companies more than estimated. If a serious accident were to occur at a nuclear station, it could endanger the existence of the plant’s operator.
The creation of a management structure at KEPCO that will not be affected by nuclear power would eventually lead to the company’s long-term profits. The Osaka and Kyoto municipal governments have proposed at KEPCO’s shareholder meetings that the company decrease its dependence on atomic power on the grounds that such efforts would strengthen and stabilize the utility’s operations.
Attention will be focused on the procedure for gaining consent from the local governments for reactivation of the Oi plant. Considering the possible impact of a serious accident, KEPCO should gain consent from not only the local body hosting the plant but also those within a radius of 30 kilometers from the plant that are obligated to draw up evacuation plans.

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Utility seeks to restart two reactors in Fukui from mid-May

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The Takahama Nuclear Power Plant’s No. 3 reactor, left, and No. 4 reactor are pictured in this file photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, on June 15, 2016.

FUKUI, Japan (Kyodo) — Kansai Electric Power Co. said Tuesday it will seek to restart its two idled reactors in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, in mid-May and early June, respectively.

Shigeki Iwane, the utility’s president, presented the plan to reboot the two units at the Takahama plant on the Sea of Japan coast when meeting with Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa.

“It is correct that (Kansai Electric Power) will take procedures to start operations,” Nishikawa told reporters after the meeting.

Kansai Electric Power will start to load nuclear fuel at the No. 4 unit later this month, eyeing the start of electricity generation in late May while aiming to reactivate the No. 3 reactor in early June after fueling the facility in mid-May, according to the schedule released by the Osaka-based company.

Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has been promoting the restart of nuclear reactors across Japan, most of the reactors remain offline amid safety concerns among residents following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

The two reactors in Takahama were brought back online in early 2016 after meeting the safety requirements introduced after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

While the No. 4 unit was shut down immediately after its restart in February last year due to a technical problem, the No. 3 reactor was forced to go offline the following month in the wake of an Otsu District Court order that resulted from a lawsuit filed by residents in neighboring Shiga Prefecture.

In March this year, the Osaka High Court struck down the lower court’s decision, making it possible for the two reactors to resume operation.

Among the four units at the Takahama plant, Japan’s nuclear regulators approved June last year the utility’s plan to extend the operation of the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors beyond the government-mandated 40-year service period.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170426/p2g/00m/0dm/001000c

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Residents furious over high court decision to revoke Takahama nuclear plant injunction

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Yoshinori Tsuji, right, speaks during a news conference in Osaka’s Kita Ward on March 28, 2017, after the Osaka High Court handed down a decision on the injunction for reactors at Takahama Nuclear Power Plant

OSAKA — A March 28 Osaka High Court ruling that revoked a lower court decision to halt two nuclear reactors in Fukui Prefecture has angered plaintiffs and local residents as the high court effectively rubberstamped the state’s policy of restarting nuclear reactors.

Some 100 people demanding a halt to the reactors at Takahama Nuclear Power Plant gathered before the Osaka High Court on March 28. When they were informed of the ruling shortly after 3 p.m. with attorneys holding up banners that said, “Unjust ruling” and “The court fails to fulfill residents’ wishes,” the plaintiffs let out a sigh of disappointment.

“What are they thinking about?” “This is absurd,” they said, and shouted, “Resist the high court ruling that disregards Fukushima!” as they raised their fists.

Kenichi Ido, the head attorney for the plaintiffs, criticized the ruling during a news conference, with the over-400-page written court decision in his hand, saying, “While it’s this thick, its contents are just a copy of the views of (Takahama nuclear plant operator) Kansai Electric Power Co. and the Nuclear Regulation Authority.”

He added, “After the March 11 disaster, the judiciary is the only actor that can stop the administration that is railroading the resumption of nuclear power. But I sense that it has no self-awareness of its role or responsibility.”

Yoshinori Tsuji, the representative of the residents in the class action lawsuit, expressed frustration over the latest ruling, saying, “The decision was unjust as the high court took the policies of the central government and the utility into consideration.”

Tsuji also said the Otsu District Court’s injunction order handed down a year ago was a groundbreaking decision which reflected on the Fukushima nuclear disaster. “It further legitimized the authority of the judiciary,” he recalled.

Tsuji then slammed the Osaka High Court, saying, “The high court took a decidedly different stance from the district court with regard to listening to the people’s voices. Shame on them.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170329/p2a/00m/0na/013000c

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Osaka higher court backs restart of halted Takahama reactors

The Takahama reactors site is under 3 miles from Kyoto-fu, 36 miles (58K) from the cultural heritage sites in the ancient capital of Kyoto and closer to the region’s supply of fresh water, Lake Biwa.

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Takahama reactors may soon restart after court overturns injunction

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Plaintiffs hold banners in front of the Osaka High Court on Tuesday expressing disappointment after the court ruled in favor Kansai Electric over the restart of two Takahama reactors.

 

OSAKA – The Osaka High Court overturned Tuesday an injunction issued against the restart of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at its Takahama facility in Fukui Prefecture, paving the way for them to be switched back on.

The landmark injunction issued by the Otsu District Court in Shiga Prefecture in March last year cited safety concerns for preventing the reactors from restarting even though they were judged to have met new safety regulations set after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear crisis.

While the injunction had been a temporary victory for the plaintiffs in Shiga, some had predicted the Osaka High Court would adhere to a more narrow technical view of nuclear safety.

In his ruling, Judge Ikuo Yamashita said the plaintiffs had the responsibility to prove allegations of any specific dangers that would result in restarting the plant, which the judge ruled they had not.

Part of the plaintiffs’ claim relied on the alleged inadequacy of current evacuation plans in the event of an accident. Therefore, starting up the Takahama reactors, located about 60 km from the city of Kyoto, posed a significant risk, they argued.

Yamashita ruled that measures were being taken in Fukui and that official attitudes and efforts had been proactive, so he could not accept the plaintiffs’ claims.

Kepco showed proof that they drew up emergency response measures based on the largest scale earthquake and tsunami,” the judge ruled. “The judge’s decision is extremely regrettable,”It’s clear with the decision that no progress has been made in terms of learning the lessons of March 11, 2011,” Kenichi Ido, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said after the verdict was announced. “The attitude of the courts hasn’t changed at all since the Fukushima accident. In particular, the evacuation plans aren’t really being taken into consideration by the courts.”

Yoshinori Tsuji, one of the chief plaintiffs, said: “In America and South Korea, the courts are defying the presidents of both countries. But in Japan, the courts — which were ignoring the wishes of the people to stop nuclear power before March 11, 2011 — fail to reflect on what happened then. The courts follow the wishes of the nuclear power lobby and the government.”

Kansai electric officials welcomed the decision, saying at a Tuesday afternoon press conference in Osaka the utility would move towards preparing to restart, although they did not say when the reactors were expected to go back online.

With safety as the top priority, the period for restarts is not yet set,” Kepco president Shigeki Iwane said. He added that once the restarts took place, the firm would move to reduce electricity prices.

In Kansai region, reaction to the court’s verdict was mixed. Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa, a strong supporter of nuclear power, was relieved with the decision, saying it was a return to a reasonable and correct decision by the court system.

But in neighboring Shiga prefecture, Gov. Taizo Mikazuki said that, given more immediate concerns Japan’s nuclear power industry faces, including spent fuel storage and decommissioning of old reactors, it was the wrong environment to approve reactor restarts. Kyoto Gov. Keiji Yamada emphasized that the utmost had to be done to ensure safety.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/28/national/takahama-reactors-may-soon-restart-court-overturns-injunction/

 

Higher court backs restart of halted Takahama reactors

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The No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant, from left to right, are pictured in this photo taken from a Mainichi helicopter in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, on June 15, 2016.

OSAKA (Kyodo) — A Japanese high court on Tuesday revoked a lower court order to halt two nuclear reactors at the Takahama plant in central Japan, accepting an appeal by Kansai Electric Power Co. against the first injunction ever issued in the country to shut operating reactors.

But it is unlikely that the operation of other nuclear reactors in Japan will be resumed soon due to pending legal matters, analysts say.

The decision, made by the Osaka High Court, legally allows Kansai Electric to resume operating the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the nuclear power plant on the Sea of Japan coast in Fukui Prefecture. The two reactors have been idled for around a year.

The higher court said that quake-resistance standards were not overestimated under tougher regulations set following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and that necessary measures have been taken to prevent significant damage of the reactor core.

The latest decision bodes well for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, which has been promoting the restart of nuclear reactors in a bid to bolster the economy by cutting the cost of fossil fuels and exporting nuclear technology abroad.

Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, said at a press conference in Tokyo, “We want Kansai Electric to put top priority on safety and make every effort to obtain understanding from the local government and others involved.”

Kansai Electric President Shigeki Iwane said at a news conference in Osaka that his company has yet to decide when to restart the operation of Takahama’s Nos. 3 and 4 reactors, pledging to “make safety our top priority.”

Iwane also expressed eagerness to push down electric charges as soon as possible after the resumption of the two reactors.

A group of residents in neighboring Shiga Prefecture who won the landmark injunction from the Otsu District Court in March last year are expected to consider countermeasures, including filing a special appeal with the Supreme Court.

Amid widespread concern about the safety of nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima meltdowns, the residents in Shiga filed a request with the district court in January 2015, seeking an order halting the two reactors at the plant.

On March 9, 2016, the district court ordered operation of the two nuclear reactors to be halted, casting doubts about the utility’s safety measures and Japan’s post-Fukushima nuclear regulations set by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

Last July, Kansai Electric filed an appeal against a district court decision rejecting its request to suspend the injunction order.

In Tuesday’s decision, the Osaka High Court determined that the post-Fukushima safety measures were “not unreasonable” because they were devised on the basis of the “latest scientific and technical knowledge” that reflects lessons learned from the nuclear disaster.

The utility has criticized the injunction, claiming it was not an objective judgment based on scientific knowledge. It also says the injunction is costing the utility 200 million to 300 million yen ($1.8 million to $2.7 million) more per day to generate power from other fuel.

Kansai Electric removed nuclear fuel from the Takahama reactors between August and September last year given the prolonged court battle.

As of Tuesday, only three of Japan’s 42 commercial reactors nationwide are now operating — the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric’s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, and the No. 3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture, western Japan, according to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.

On Thursday, the Hiroshima District Court is set to rule on an appeal filed to halt the operation of the No.3 reactor at the Ikata power plant, the first ruling since it resumed operations in August last year.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170328/p2g/00m/0dm/063000c

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

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The Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Takahama nuclear power plant

Japan court rules in favor of restart of Kansai Elec’s Takahama reactors

A Japanese high court on Tuesday overturned a lower court’s order to shut two reactors operated by Kansai Electric Power, a company spokesman said, potentially ending a drawn-out legal battle and helping the utility to cut fuel costs.

The decision, while positive for Kansai Electric, is not likely to speed the broader process of getting reactors back online nationally after the Fukushima nuclear disaster of six years ago, said a former advisor to the government and others.

“The future of nuclear power is still uncertain. The decision does not mean that the courts will give a ‘yes’ to other legal cases. Political uncertainty remains strong, too,” said Tatsujiro Suzuki, a former vice chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, a government body.

The Osaka High Court overturned the first court-ordered shutdown of an operating nuclear plant in Japan. The lower court had decided last year in favor of residents living near the Takahama atomic station west of Tokyo after they had petitioned for the reactors at the plant to be shut.

Kansai Electric, Japan’s most nuclear-reliant utility before the disaster, estimates it will save 7 billion yen ($63 million) per month in fuel once it restarts both reactors.

The restart schedule for the reactors, however, is still uncertain because the utility has been conducting safety checks requested by local authorities after a large crane toppled onto another reactor building at the site due to strong winds in January, a Kansai Electric spokesman said earlier.

There are four reactors at the Takahama plant, with the earlier court order covering the two newest ones.

The company released a profit forecast after the verdict on Tuesday saying it estimates net income of 133 billion yen ($1.2 billion) in the year through March 31, 2017.

The Kansai case was one of many going through the courts after the Japanese public turned away from nuclear power following the Fukushima meltdowns of 2011, the world’s worst nuclear calamity since Chernobyl in 1986.

Just three out of Japan’s 42 operable reactors are running and the pace of restarts has been protracted despite strong support from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, which is keen to restore a power source that provided about a third of electricity supply before the Fukushima disaster.

Residents have lodged injunctions against nuclear plants across Japan and lower courts have been increasingly siding with them on safety concerns.

Contentious verdicts are usually overturned by higher courts, where judges tend to be more attuned to government policy, judicial experts say.

“We are going to win some and we are going to lose some, but the political and social situation is such that unstable prospects for restarts are here to stay,” Aileen Mioko Smith, an advisor to the plaintiffs and a co-plaintiff in other lawsuits, told Reuters by phone from Osaka.

There are more than 30 cases going through Japan’s courts in which communities are seeking to stop reactors from operating, she said.

Kansai Electric shares had ended trading before the court decision was released. They closed 0.3 percent higher on Tuesday at 1,283 yen, while the broader market rose more than 1 percent.

http://www.reuters.com/article/uk-japan-nuclear-court-idUSKBN16Z0IP

March 28, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Crane falls on building with spent nuclear fuel at Takahama plant

Large crane collapses at Takahama nuclear plant

A large crane has toppled onto a building storing nuclear fuel at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan. Part of the building’s roof was damaged. There were no reported injuries.

Workers at the plant found on Friday night that the crane had half-collapsed onto the building next to the containment vessel of the No.2 reactor.

The crane is about 110 meters long. It buckled where it hit the edge of the roof and is lying across another building.

Officials at Kansai Electric Power Company say no one was injured. They confirmed damage to a facility collecting rainwater on the roof, but say they have detected no change to radiation levels in the surrounding area.

The Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority says its inspectors have confirmed the falling crane caused wall panels inside the building to move. Workers are checking the building’s functions to prevent radioactive materials from leaking.

Kansai Electric officials say they believe strong winds likely toppled the crane. They are investigating whether there was any problem in its installation.

Weather officials had warned of strong winds in the prefecture at the time.

The Takahama plant’s operational chief, Masakazu Takashima, has apologized for the accident.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority in June last year approved the operation of the plant’s No.1 and No.2 reactors beyond the basic limit of 40 years.

The crane was reportedly being used for construction work on the containment vessel as part of safety measures for the operation extension.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170121_17/

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A crane is seen collapsed over a reactor auxiliary building and another structure at the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, on Jan. 21, 2017. The No. 2 reactor is seen at top.

 

Crane falls on Takahama nuke plant buildings amid storm warning

TAKAHAMA, Fukui — A large crane fell on a reactor auxiliary building and a fuel handling building at the No. 2 reactor of the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture on the night of Jan. 20, damaging part of their roofs, Kansai Electric Power Co. said.

There were no injuries in the incident, nor were there any leakages of radiation to the outside environment, the power company said. A storm warning had been issued in the prefecture, with strong winds at a speed of about 15 meters per second (54 kilometers per hour) observed near the plant at the time of the incident, which occurred at around 9:50 p.m.

The 112.75-meter mobile crane, as well as three other similar cranes, was installed for work to refurbish plant facilities in accordance with the new safety standards introduced in the wake of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster. The collapsed crane was intended for work to install a new dome above the No. 2 reactor’s containment vessel. After the incident, the framework of the collapsed crane was seen bent along the buildings on which it fell, and the metal rails on the edges of the roofs of the two affected buildings were damaged.

According to Kansai Electric Power Co., a worker at the plant’s central control room heard a loud sound and checked to find one of the four cranes collapsed. When a Kansai Electric employee visually checked the inside of the fuel handling building, where 259 nuclear fuel rods are stored in a pool, there were no objects that had fallen upon them. The utility said there were no effects from the accident on the fuel pool or the fuel rods.

“We are sorry for causing concern,” said Masakazu Takashima, a senior official at the Takahama plant at a press conference, suggesting that work involving large cranes would be suspended at the plant for the time being. With regards to the strong winds in the area at the time, he said, “We thought it would be all right after calculating the effects from the wind. However, we hadn’t taken wind direction into consideration.” Takashima said the cause of the incident had yet to be identified.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in June last year granted permission to extend the operation of the plant’s No. 1 and No. 2 reactors, making them the country’s first reactors to be allowed to operate beyond 40 years.

According to the NRA, the management methods for protecting nuclear plant facilities are provided for by each plant’s safety code. Nuclear safety inspectors stationed at each plant monitor to see if work is in progress as specified by the safety code and conduct safety inspections four times a year. While no work was underway at the time of the crane collapse as it was during the night time, the NRA will investigate if work and equipment were properly managed in accordance with the rules as a storm warning had been issued in the prefecture at the time.

“We will check if the series of work involving the cranes had been properly managed to the effect that it wouldn’t affect nuclear reactor facilities,” said an NRA official.
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170121/p2a/00m/0na/007000c

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Workers on Saturday examine a crane that collapsed onto a building that houses spent nuclear fuel at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture

Crane falls on building with spent nuclear fuel at Takahama plant

FUKUI – A crane collapsed Friday night at the Takahama nuclear power station in Fukui Prefecture, damaging a building housing spent fuel, the plant operator said Saturday.

No one was injured in the accident at around 9:50 p.m. near the No. 2 reactor building and nothing fell into the spent fuel pool, according to the operator, Kansai Electric Power Co.

The crane also damaged the roof of an adjacent building.

A wind warning was in effect in the area, and strong winds were blowing at the time, according to the utility.

The 112-meter crane had been used to prepare for safety-enhancement work in which a concrete dome will be placed over the No. 2 reactor building. Work was not being undertaken at the time of accident.

An official apologized for the accident at a news conference at the plant, saying the utility would re-examine the risk of crane accidents amid strong winds and investigate the cause of the incident.

There are 59 fuel assemblies in the pool, including spent ones, according to Kansai Electric.

The No. 2 reactor is one of two aging reactors at the plant, in operation for over 40 years. Safety-enhancement work for the facility is expected for completion in 2020.

In June last year, nuclear regulators approved the utility’s plan to extend the operation of the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors beyond the government-mandated 40-year service period. It was the first such approval given under new safety regulation introduced following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.

The plant has two newer reactors. All four reactors are currently offline.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/21/national/crane-falls-building-spent-nuclear-fuel-takahama-plant/#.WIM6nX3raM9

 

January 21, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

100 Meters High Crane Collapsed at Takahama nuclear Plant

In Fukui Prefecture a 100 meters crane collapsed in a storm at Takahama nuclear Plant.

 

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January 20, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment