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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.


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.


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.


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.





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

Community near nuke plant adopts statement against extending 40-year reactor rule



TAKAHAMA, Fukui — A residents’ association in a neighboring district of the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant here adopted a statement on Dec. 18 opposing the extension of the 40-year maximum lifespan rule for nuclear reactors.
Kansai Electric Power Co. aims to restart the No. 1 and 2 reactors at the Takahama plant to operate them over 40 years after the Nuclear Regulation Authority gave the green light for a 20-year extension.

The Otomi district in Takahama, with a population of 136 people as of November, which has adopted the statement, is located in the Uchiura Peninsula facing Wakasa Bay. It is separated from the mainland part of Fukui Prefecture by the Takahama plant, which is built at the base of the peninsula.

In the statement, adopted based on its draft, the neighborhood association expressed concern that restarting the reactors could cause further depopulation, saying that it will accelerate community deterioration due to the growing negative image of nuclear power after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. It is an unusual move by a residents’ association of a nuclear plant host municipality to approve a motion against the extension of reactor operation.

The association is set to submit the document to Kansai Electric, the Fukui Prefectural Government and the Takahama Municipal Government.

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Kansai Electric manager’s suicide result of excess overtime

A manager working on technology for the Takahama nuclear power plant killed himself after working excessive overtime hours, sources have revealed.

The man, in his 40s, was found dead in April in a hotel in Tokyo where he was staying on a business trip.

The suicide of the Kansai Electric Power Co. manager was recognized as a work-related death by the Tsuruga Labor Standards Inspection Office in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, sources said.

It had been a especially hectic time for the Osaka-based utility as two 40-plus-year-old reactors in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, were at risk of being decommissioned if the safety screening process by the Nuclear Regulation Authority was not completed by July 7.

The company was pushing hard to have the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the nuclear power plant pass safety evaluations so that their operational lives could be extended by 20 years.

The dead man was the head of a department in charge of engineering regarding construction at the company, according to the sources.

He was tasked with responding to the NRA as he was responsible for having the construction plans on upgrading the two reactors approved by the nuclear watchdog.

Under the Labor Standards Law, work hours are not restricted for supervisors and managers such as the suicide victim. However, employers still have a responsibility to maintain the health of such employees by ensuring they avoid overwork.

October 21, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

6.6 Magnitude Earthquake in Western Japan




Since the strong earthquake today at 2:07 p.m. in Tottori, of 6.6 magnitude and 6 intensity that shook half of Japan, the earth continues to shake with an impressive number of aftershocks. Officials at the Meteorological Agency say seismic activity continues in Tottori and are asking people to be prepared and take precautions against another possible earthquake.

On this coast of West Japan lies the largest concentration of nuclear power plants in the world. Though stopped, they are full of potentially very dangerous spent nuclear fuel. The epicenter of this earthquake was at 76km from the Shimane nuclear power plant. Of course, no damages say the Authorities, as usual…



nuke plants oct 2016.jpg


Strong quake in western Japan

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 struck Tottori Prefecture in western Japan on Friday afternoon. The Japan Meteorological Agency says there is no tsunami theat.
The jolt registered 6 minus on the Japanese seismic scale of 0 to 7 in central Tottori. The focus was 10 kilometers deep in the prefecture.
There are some reports of injuries and houses collapsing.
About 30,000 households in the prefecture are without power.
The tremors have disrupted transportation.
Local airports have cancelled flights.
Some bullet train services in central Japan are suspended. Parts of highways have been closed to check for damage.
Officials at the nearby Shimane nuclear power plant say there are no irregularities. The plant was off-line at the time of the quake.


M6.6 quake strikes western Japan, no tsunami warning issued

A powerful earthquake struck Tottori Prefecture and surrounding areas shortly after 2 p.m. on Oct. 21, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. No tsunami warning was issued.

The 2:07 p.m. quake, which had an estimated magnitude of 6.6, measured a lower 6 on the 7-point Japanese seismic intensity scale in some parts of the Tottori Prefecture city of Kurayoshi, the town of Yurihama and the town of Hokuei, the agency said. It measured an upper 5 in parts of the city of Tottori, as well as in parts of neighboring Okayama Prefecture.

Reports said that several homes in Yurihama had collapsed. The Tottori Prefectural Government is in the process of confirming the information. The quake caused a blackout affecting nearly 32,000 households in Tottori Prefecture, Chugoku Electric Power Co. reported.

Firefighters in Tottori said that a female employee at a supermarket restaurant was taken to hospital with burns to her legs after an accident with hot oil when the quake struck. Elevators also stopped in the quake and there were reports that at least one person had been trapped.

Broken windows were reported over a wide area of Kurayoshi. A 53-year-old architect in the city, Katsunori Choda, said he was about to get in a vehicle when the ground started shaking, and pedestrians crouched on the ground to balance themselves. Soon afterward there was a blackout. Ambulance sirens could be heard and tiles fell from the roofs of old homes.

“I’d never felt an earthquake this big before,” the architect said. “There is a lot of old town scenery in the area and I’m worried about damage.”

Earthquake sounds could still be heard 30 minutes after the quake and aftershocks were reportedly continuing. The earthquake struck at an estimated depth of 10 kilometers, the meteorological agency said.

Services on the Sanyo Shinkansen bullet train were suspended between Shin-Osaka and Hakata stations following the quake, but resumed at 2:27 p.m., West Japan Railway Co. announced.


This aerial photo shows broken grave markers and collapsed walls at a cemetery in Kurayoshi, Tottori Prefecture, following a strong earthquake that shook the area Friday.

Homes damaged, power cut after strong quake rattles parts of western Honshu

A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 shook parts of western Honshu early Friday afternoon, damaging homes and roads and cutting power to almost 40,000 households.

The Meteorological Agency said the earthquake occurred at 2:07 p.m. in central Tottori Prefecture, about 700 km west of Tokyo, at a depth of 10 km. It was followed by a weaker aftershock about 30 minutes later.

The agency said there was no danger of a tsunami from the inland temblor.

Two houses collapsed in the town of Hokuei, Tottori Prefecture, according to the local fire department. Roads were cracked and roof tiles laid strewn in the town.

In Kurayoshi in the prefecture, ATMs at some local banks temporarily went offline due to a power outage.

All up, the blackout affected nearly 40,000 households in Tottori Prefecture, according to Chugoku Electric Power Co.

Okayama City Fire Department said a woman in her 70s was taken to hospital after she fell and broke her right leg. Five people are reported to have been injured in Tottori Prefecture.

West Japan Railway Co. temporarily suspended all services on the Sanyo Shinkansen Line between Shin-Osaka and Hakata stations.

The quake registered lower 6 on the Japanese seismic scale of 7 in parts of Tottori Prefecture, and upper 5 in a wide area in Tottori and Okayama prefectures, according to the agency.

No abnormalities were detected at the Shimane nuclear plant, which is currently off-line, in nearby Shimane Prefecture, according to the utility.

Okayama airport closed its runway to check its safety, airport officials said.

According to local officials a house in the town of Yurihama, in central Tottori Prefecture, was destroyed, and a number of dwellings in other parts of the prefecture suffered damage


UPDATE: Quake rattles buildings in Tottori; 6 injured

Tottori Prefecture in western Japan was struck by a series of major earthquakes on Oct. 21, causing structural damage to some buildings and homes and at least six injuries.

A quake measuring lower 6 on the Japanese intensity scale of 7 was recorded at 2:07 p.m.

The focus was about 10 kilometers underground, and the temblor had an estimated magnitude of 6.6.

Shaking was felt in a wide area of western Japan and as far as the Kanto and Kyushu regions.

Japan Meteorological Agency officials urged caution because there was a possibility of another quake measuring lower 6 in intensity striking over the next week in areas where the shaking was particularly strong.

Among the buildings damaged was the Kurayoshi city government building. Government workers evacuated as the building has been declared off-limits.

Homes in Yurihama were also heavily damaged, according to Tottori prefectural officials.

One individual suffered burns at a shopping center in Tottori city while a woman in her 70s in Okayama city, south of Tottori, fell and broke her leg.

Meanwhile, officials of Chugoku Electric Power Co. said about 31,900 households in the prefecture suffered a blackout after the quake struck, centered mainly on Kurayoshi.

However, the quake did not affect the two reactors at the Shimane nuclear power plant in the neighboring prefecture. Both reactors were not operating when the temblor struck.

Various stretches of expressways were closed to traffic.

Bullet train services between Shin-Osaka and Hakata stations operated by West Japan Railway Co. were stopped for about 20 minutes immediately after the quake. Service on the Tokaido Shinkansen line was also temporarily suspended between Shin-Osaka and Toyohashi in Aichi Prefecture.






October 21, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Extends Reactor Lifetimes for First Time Since Fukushima

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) this June approved 20-year license extensions for the aging Takahama 1 and 2 reactors, a first for the power-strapped country that has been conflicted about the future of its nuclear power plants since the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe in 2011.

A regulatory system established in the aftermath of Fukushima limits the operating lives of Japanese nuclear units to 40 years, though it allows a one-time extension of no more than 20 years. The NRA’s approval to allow the 40-year-old Takahama 1 and 39-year-old Takahama 2 to operate an additional 20 years was carried out as an “extraordinary case.” Kansai Electric Power Co., which owns the two 826-MW reactors, filed applications for the extensions in April 2015, as well as for its 826-MW Mihama 3 reactor in November 2015, saying that they were “important” for its business.

Under its revised long-term energy plan, Japan anticipates getting between 20% and 22% of its total generated electricity from nuclear power by 2030, and industry groups like the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum have argued that the lifetime extensions will be integral to meeting that target.

Four of the nation’s nuclear power plants idled after Fukushima have so far cleared the new regulatory standards required to resume operations, but only Sendai 1 and 2, which are owned and operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co., are online. Kansai started up its Takahama 3 reactor on January 29 and Takahama 4 on February 26, but it took Unit 4 offline just three days later following a “main transformer/generator internal failure” (Figure 1). It was then forced to halt operations at Unit 3 on March 10 after Japan’s Otsu District Court issued a temporary injunction against the operation of both reactors because, the court said, the safety of the units could not be guaranteed. On July 12, Otsu District Court Judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto rejected Kansai’s request to lift the injunction. Kansai now says that—though it has filed to appeal the court’s decision to the Osaka High Court—it will begin removing nuclear fuel from the reactor cores.

takahama npp oi district, fukui prefecture.jpg

One step forward, two steps back. While Japan’s Kansai Electric Power Co. received Nuclear Regulation Authority approval to extend the lifetimes of Units 1 and 2 at its Takahama Nuclear Power Plant in Oi District, Fukui Prefecture, to 60 years, it has been forced to halt operations at Units 3 and 4 by a temporary injunction issued by a district court.

Meanwhile, applications for 22 more nuclear plant restarts have been filed with the NRA. According to a 2017 economic and energy outlook released by the Institute of Energy Economics of Japan (IEEJ) in late July, at least 12 nuclear power plants should be restarted next year. The research group notes, however, that those projections are clouded by a number of issues, including court judgments and local agreements. That uncertainty could come at a significant cost to the nation, it added.

Because of the judicial ruling that ceased operations at the Takahama Unit No. 3 and 4, it is important to analyse the effect of stopping operations of nuclear power plants from a local point of view,” the IEEJ’s outlook says. “As a rule, if one nuclear plant with the capacity of 1 MW stops operation for one year in an area where annual demand is about 100 TWh, total fossil fuel costs increase by [$594 million] and the energy-related [carbon dioxide] emissions increases by 4 Mt-CO2 (7% increase for the local emissions). The average electricity unit cost will increase by [$3.96/MWh] (1.8% rise of the average power unit price).”

September 1, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima scenarios used in evacuation drills at two Japanese nuclear plants

takahama npp.jpg


TAKAHAMA, FUKUI PREF. – Some 11,000 residents of Fukui and Kyoto prefectures participated in two major disaster drills on Saturday and Sunday centered on hypothetical nuclear accidents at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama and Oi nuclear power stations.

The exercises were jointly organized by the central government and the prefectural governments of Fukui, Shiga and Kyoto.

Saturday’s drill at Takahama involved about 9,000 residents. It was intended to examine the workability of evacuation plans approved by the national government last December.

The scenario was a strong earthquake off Wakasa Bay, near the plant. The tremor measured a lower 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 0 to 7.

The facility’s No. 3 reactor was assumed to have lost all power, leading to the release of radioactive substances — as happened at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in 2011.

Evacuation plans require residents within 5 km of plants to evacuate immediately upon an accident occurring. Those living up to 30 km away are meant to stay indoors until radiation alarms detect fallout in the air.

Some experts have cast doubt on whether it is a good idea to order people to stay indoors when reactors are spewing radiation.

For example, when quakes pummeled Kyushu this spring, about 160,000 houses and buildings collapsed. If that were to occur in Fukui, many residents would find it difficult to shelter indoors.

In the Kumamoto earthquake, there were cases where people returned to their homes after the initial quake, only to be hit when houses collapsed in the second quake, said Hirotada Hirose, a professor emeritus at Tokyo Woman’s Christian University, a specialist in disaster risk management.

If a severe nuclear disaster occurs, evacuating in phases isn’t likely to go well,” he said. “The evacuation plan should assume many scenarios.”

These could include cases where an earthquake cuts traffic, jamming the roads with panicking residents who ignore advice and are trying to flee in large numbers.

Nonetheless, Saturday’s exercise finished without any major hiccups.

By doing the drills with local governments and residents over and over again, disaster-prevention skills will improve,” said Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa.

As part of the exercise, at the town hall of Mihama, Fukui Prefecture, Kansai Electric workers screened evacuees for radiation exposure. They also checked the buses for contamination.

One of the would-be evacuees was Masatoshi Nose, 46, a city government employee from Obama, Fukui Prefecture.

As this is a drill, I was able to come here smoothly,” Nose said. “But in a real disaster situation, it may take an entire day.”

Also, poor visibility scrubbed plans to use a Ground Self-Defense Force helicopter to extract 20 residents from near Takahama.About 180,000 people live within 30 km of the plant whose No. 3 and No. 4 reactors were restarted in January and February, only to be halted again after the Otsu District Court in Shiga in March issued a provisional injunction following a petition by residents.

Meanwhile, on Sunday about 2,000 local residents participated in an evacuation drill under a scenario where Kansai Electric’s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture experiences a catastrophic accident.

The drill was organized by the Fukui Prefectural Government.

The residents took shelter in their homes or evacuated to elsewhere in the prefecture as part of an effort to test response times to an accident.

The evacuation drill was only carried out within Fukui Prefecture itself as no evacuation plan covering a wider area has been drawn up for the plant, located in the town of Oi.

Residents within 5 km of the plant fled to the city of Tsuruga, and Oi residents within 30 km of the plant moved to the city of Ono, about 100 km away.

For the evacuees from Oi, a facility was set up for the distribution of iodine tablets to mitigate radiation exposure and to check for contamination.


August 28, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Kansai Electric starts removing fuel from Takahama reactor No. 4


FUKUI – Kansai Electric Power Co. on Wednesday began removing fuel assemblies from the No. 4 reactor at its Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture.

The removal is the result of a preliminary injunction issued in early March by the Otsu District Court in neighboring Shiga Prefecture ordering the power utility to halt operations of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the plant. The court upheld a petition filed by a group of residents who live near the plant in Shiga and are concerned over safety.

The work to remove 157 nuclear fuel assemblies from the No. 4 reactor started at noon and is slated to end around 7 p.m. Friday. The fuel assemblies will be transferred to a spent fuel storage pool.

Kansai Electric will begin to remove fuel from the No. 3 reactor on Sept. 5.

The No. 3 reactor, which was brought back online on Jan. 29, was shut down following the injunction. The No. 4 unit was reactivated on Feb. 26, but it automatically shut down on its own three days later due to a technical glitch.

Kansai Electric filed an appeal against the injunction but was turned down by the Otsu court in June.

The utility then filed an appeal with the Osaka High Court in July requesting the cancellation of the district court’s injunction.

August 17, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Anti-terror facility at nuclear plant confirmed


Japan’s nuclear regulator says plans for terrorism-response facilities at the Takahama nuclear plant are the first in Japan to meet its requirements.

New government regulations introduced after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident require nuclear plant operators to build standby control rooms at least 100 meters away from each of their reactors.

The special facilities allow employees to retain control of a plant’s reactors even if main control rooms are destroyed by terrorists or in a plane crash.

Officials at the Nuclear Regulation Authority confirmed that the plans for standby control rooms for the No. 3 and No.4 reactors at the plant are in line with requirements. They will soon issue formal approval for construction.

The decision came at a closed-door session to maintain secrecy of the rooms’ design and location.

The Takahama plant on the Japan Sea coast became the first of 7 nuclear plants in Japan to submit applications for approval.

The plant’s operator, Kansai Electric Power Company, is now required to set up the facility for the No.3 reactor by August 2020 and for the No.4 reactor by the following October.

Some are criticizing the decision to restart reactors yet to be equipped with the standby facilities.

The 2 reactors at Takahama went back online earlier this year. But they were halted after a court ordered their suspension in March.

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

Court rules a third time against Takahama reactors


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.



OTSU, SHIGA PREF. – The Otsu District Court ruled against Kansai Electric Power Co. for the third time in five months Tuesday, in a decision that will keep its Takahama No. 3 and 4 reactors in Fukui Prefecture shut down indefinitely.

Both sides are now gearing up for an appeal by Kepco to the Osaka High Court, where a decision could come next year, while the plaintiffs are expected to file further suits.

The utility had filed an objection to the Otsu court’s March decision, which granted a temporary injunction on the reactors, forcing Kepco to shut them down about two months after they had been restarted.

The court reaffirmed its decision in June and again made the same ruling on Tuesday after Kepco fought the June decision.

The utility was not arguing that both reactors were safe based on expert evidence and reasonable safety standards, but that they were safe due to detailed assertions directly related to their safety and prima facie evidence,” said presiding Judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto, the same judge who has twice ruled against Kepco. “However, the new safety standards haven’t drawn the limits of what dangers should be accepted by society.”

Representatives for the plaintiffs welcomed the ruling.

Once again, the Otsu court has ruled against the safety of restarting the reactors, especially with Lake Biwa nearby, even though Kepco has said it’ll likely appeal to the (Osaka) High Court,” said Yoshinori Tsuji, one of the chief plaintiffs.

The case boiled down to the basic question of what determines adequate safety for a nuclear power plant. It has raised questions about the way the Nuclear Regulation Authority is handling safety inspections for restarts.

Report: Japan court upholds injunction to halt nuclear reactors

A Japanese court on Tuesday upheld an order for the shutdown of two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co’s Takahama nuclear plant in western Japan, a Japanese news agency reported, in a widely expected ruling that prevents the utility from restarting them.

Japan’s second-biggest utility had appealed Otsu District Court’s March 9 ruling ordering it to shut the Takahama No. 3 and No. 4 units with immediate effect, which marked the first injunction to shut a nuclear plant in operation. The court last month also denied the utility’s request for a stay of execution of the injunction.

Kansai Electric is expected to appeal the latest decision to the Osaka High Court.

Court again nixes appeal to restart 2 Takahama nuclear reactors

OTSU, Japan (Kyodo) — A Japanese court again disallowed the operation of two nuclear reactors Tuesday, rejecting their operator’s request to suspend an injunction the same court had issued over the once-reactivated units at the Takahama power plant in Fukui Prefecture, western Japan.

The Otsu District Court’s decision, following the injunction issued in March over the Nos. 3 and 4 units at the Kansai Electric Power Co. plant, would continue to legally prevent the Osaka-based utility from restarting operation of the reactors on the Sea of Japan coast about 380 kilometers west of Tokyo.

Kansai Electric plans to appeal the decision to the Osaka High Court, company officials said.

In June, the district court also rejected the plant operator’s appeal to temporarily void the effects of the injunction, with public concerns lingering over the restart of nuclear power plants in Japan in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

Tuesday’s decision was issued under the same presiding judge, Yoshihiko Yamamoto, who made the judgments in March and June.

The March injunction was the first of its kind affecting operating reactors. One of the reactors was taken offline one day after the order. The other reactor was already offline.

The Takahama plant has cleared the post-Fukushima safety regulations, allowing Kansai Electric to reactivate the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors. But their operation was beset with problems.

Kansai Electric has announced it will remove fuels from the two nuclear power reactors in August, even though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has expressed a desire to ramp up nuclear power generation at home.

July 12, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Aging reactors 20-year extension fuels concerns

License renewal of aging reactors betrays promise, fuels concerns

The Nuclear Regulation Authority on June 20 approved 20-year operating extensions for two reactors at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, both of which had been in service for more than 40 years.

Kansai Electric Power Co., which operates the plant, plans to restart the No. 1 and the No. 2 reactors as early as autumn 2019 after taking the required additional safety measures.

Following the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011, Asahi Shimbun editorials have been arguing for phasing out nuclear power generation in two to three decades.

We believe high-risk or aging reactors should be decommissioned while allowing the minimum number of necessary reactors to continue operations.

The NRA’s decision for the two aging reactors has raised serious concerns that license renewals could be approved for many reactors judged deemed capable of operating profitably by utilities. We are opposed to the decision.

One source of worry is the stance of the nuclear safety watchdog itself.

One challenge at the Takahama plant is making electric cables less vulnerable to fires. The NRA has accepted Kansai Electric Power’s plan to cover cables with a fire-resistant sheet in places where it is difficult to replace them with flame-retardant cables.

The NRA has also allowed the utility to delay required earthquake-resistance tests that involve the actual shaking of important equipment within the containment vessels of the reactors.

The regulator has given the go-ahead to the company’s plan to carry out such tests after taking the additional safety measures.

The licenses for reactor operations can be renewed only once for up to an additional 20 years. But this provision was introduced to prevent emergencies, such as serious power crunches.

The NRA itself described its permission for extended reactor operation as an “extremely exceptional” measure and “hard to obtain.”

An even more serious problem is the stance of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government toward nuclear power generation.

In response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Democratic Party of Japan-led government revised the law to set 40 years as the lifespan of nuclear reactors.

The revision was made amid broad public consensus on lowering the nation’s dependence on nuclear power.

Initially, the Abe government, inaugurated in December 2012, also repeatedly promised to reduce Japan’s dependence on nuclear power generation as much as possible.

But the Abe administration has since gradually switched its position to maintaining nuclear power generation. It has even designated nuclear power as one of the core energy sources for the nation.

The administration’s recent refrain is: “Reactors that have been judged safe by the NRA will be restarted.”

The NRA, for its part, emphasizes that its mandate is limited to assessing the safety of individual reactors. The existence of an appropriate and workable evacuation plan is not a factor checked in the watchdog’s safety inspections.

The NRA has also avoided directly addressing the risks involved in the concentration of nuclear power plants in certain regions, such as Fukui Prefecture, where the Takahama plant is located.

In March, the Otsu District Court issued an injunction to suspend operations of the No. 3 and the No. 4 reactors at the Takahama plant, which had just been restarted.

The court’s decision reflects one important lesson from the Fukushima meltdowns: One key factor behind the accident was the tradition of leaving policy decisions about nuclear power regulation entirely to experts.

The revision to the law to establish the 40-year legal lifespan for nuclear reactors was based on an agreement among the DPJ, Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, now the ruling party, and the LDP’s junior coalition partner, Komeito.

The government must not be allowed to betray its promise to the public to reduce Japan’s reliance on nuclear power while using the NRA as a cover to obscure its policy shift.

The Abe administration should offer a clear and detailed explanation about its position on the 40-year life rule.

NRA gives two-decade extension to 40-year-old Takahama reactors; residents’ reactions mixed

The Nuclear Regulation Authority on Monday approved an additional 20 years of operation for two aging reactors on the Sea of Japan coast that will become the first such units to be rebooted under new rules introduced after the Fukushima disaster.

The atomic regulator green-lighted Kansai Electric Power Co.’s plan to restart its No. 1 and No. 2 reactors — both more than 40 years old — at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture.

But the reboot is unlikely to happen soon, with the company eyeing an October 2019 timetable for completing the final screening measures.

The rules, which were tightened after the 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant, in principle set the maximum operational life span for nuclear reactors at 40 years. However, the regulations also stipulated that operations can be extended by an additional 20 years if the NRA approves.

Meanwhile, Takahama’s two other reactors — No. 3 and No. 4 — remain idle after the Otsu District Court rejected a bid Friday by Kepco to lift an injunction preventing their restart.

The utility has condemned the court’s move.

Kepco had been closely monitoring the condition of the two aging reactors in a stricter manner than regular checkups since December 2014 as it sought to obtain approval for extending their life spans.

After confirming there were no abnormalities, the utility applied for an NRA screening in April last year.

The utility had been required to complete three procedures by July 7 to obtain permission for restarting units No. 1 and No. 2. While they had already passed a test for compatibility with the new rules and received approval for a construction plan detailing equipment design, the only remaining test had been of the reactors’ anti-degradation measures.

In that screening, regulators asked that the utility address the potential for long electrical cables to catch fire and how it would cover the containment vessels with concrete in the event of a serious accident. NRA chief Shunichi Tanaka said he hopes the power company will conduct inspections more often than required to ensure the facilities are safe.

The utility will spend ¥200 billion ($1.9 billion) to improve the reactors’ safety over the next 3½ years. They are expected to be restarted sometime after fall 2019.

Reactors 1 and 2 will thus reach the end of service in November 2034 and 2035, respectively.

Residents had mixed reaction to the decision.

The town of Takahama “has lived with the nuclear power plant for a long time. I hope the (reactors’) resumption will help revitalize the local economy,” a woman in her 20s said, though admitting she is worried about their safety.

While Takahama Mayor Yutaka Nose welcomed the decision, he said he will ask the regulator and plant operator for detailed explanations of the safety steps to respond to residents’ concerns.

Kansai Electric said in a press release that it believes permission for reactors to run beyond the 40-year limit heralds the restart of more of Japan’s aging reactors.

The government is pushing to bring dozens of reactors back online after the Fukushima disaster prompted a nationwide shutdown, as it looks to atomic power to provide 20 to 22 percent of its electricity by 2030.

The government will need a dozen aging reactors running beyond the four-decade limit to meet its goal, experts say, given the difficulty of building new reactors now that Japan’s long-held nuclear safety myth has been shattered by the triple meltdown in Fukushima.

The No. 1 reactor began operating in November 1974, while the No. 2 reactor did so in November the following year. Both reactors have been suspended since regular checkups in 2011

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear regulator OKs additional 20-yr operation for aging reactors


The Takahama Nuclear Power Plant’s No. 1 and 2 reactors (from left in the front row) and No. 3 and 4 reactors (from left in the back row) are pictured in this photo taken from a Mainichi helicopter in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, on June 15, 2016.

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s nuclear regulator on Monday approved an additional 20 years of operation for two aging reactors on the Sea of Japan coast that will become the first such reactors to resume operation under new rules introduced after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority granted its approval of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s plan to continue the operation of its No.1 and No.2 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, both of which are over 40 years old.

The rules, tightened after the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, set the maximum length of operation for nuclear reactors at 40 years in principle but also stipulate that their operations can be extended for an additional 20 years if the NRA allows.

Since December 2014, Kansai Electric has been checking on degradation of the two reactors in a stricter manner than regular checkups to obtain approval for extending their operations.

After confirming there were no abnormalities, the utility applied in April last year for an NRA screening.

In order for the reactors to resume operation, the company needed to complete three procedures by July 7. The two reactors had already passed a test for compatibility with the new rules and received approval for a construction plan that detailed equipment design. The only remaining test was for measures against the degradation of the reactors.

In the screening, preventing long electric cables from catching fire and covering the containment vessels with concrete were raised as issues to be addressed, and the company submitted a plan to complete such necessary measures by October 2019.

The reactors are therefore expected to resume operations after these steps have been completed.

The No.1 reactor began operating in November 1974, while the No. 2 reactor did so in November the following year. Both reactors have been suspended since regular checkups in 2011.

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

Kepco loses challenge to Takahama nuclear injunction


Residents on Friday hold a banner that reads: “Kepco’s request has been rejected; Court rejects restart of Takahama reactors.” The protesters are seen in front of the Otsu District Court in Shiga Prefecture.

The Otsu District Court on Friday rejected a bid by Kansai Electric Power Co. to lift an injunction against restarting reactors at a nearby plant, dealing yet another setback to attempts by the utility and the central government to return swiftly to nuclear power.

The move means the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant, in Fukui Prefecture, will remain idled.

In a statement, Kepco condemned the court’s action.

In his decision, Judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto said Kepco failed to provide sufficient evidence to back up its claims that the two reactors were safe.

“The very first article of the law that established the Nuclear Regulation Authority says a fundamental point of Japan’s nuclear power administration is clearly establishing the understanding that the maximum effort must be made at all times to prevent an accident involving the use of nuclear power,” said Yamamoto. “But unless the operator shows that there is nothing lacking in regards to safety, it’s presumed some safety points are lacking.”

The decision was welcomed by citizens’ groups fighting the restart of the two reactors, but it was also expected. Yamamoto was the same judge who had granted their initial request back in March that shut down the reactors, also citing a lack of convincing evidence on the part of Kepco that the plants were safe. The reactors were originally restarted at the beginning of the year.

“It was a just decision, very direct. We hope it will provide a spark to other legal efforts in other parts of Japan to stop nuclear power plants from being restarted,” Yoshinori Tsuji said after the ruling. Tsuji was one of the plaintiffs who filed for an injunction in March.

Legal wrangling over the two reactors continues. Kepco has filed a separate legal challenge to the Otsu court’s decision, and said Friday it hoped that when that ruling came, possibly in July or August, it will lead to restarts.

Shiga residents seeking to keep the reactors offline have said Friday’s decision did not mean their court battles were over.

“If the Otsu court rules against Kepco, it could end up in the Osaka High Court, possibly next year,” said Hidenori Sugihara, another one of the plaintiffs who sought the injunction.

The Otsu court case has demonstrated the difficulty of restarting nuclear power plants in a timely manner. Under laws drawn up by the NRA that went into effect in 2012, localities within a 30 kilometer radius of a nuclear power plant are supposed to establish evacuation plans in the event of an emergency.

But the expanded radius has greatly increased the number of local governments and residents who are concerned about a rush by the utilities to restart as many plants as possible.

In the Kansai region, where parts of Kyoto and Shiga prefectures lie within 30 kilometers of Fukui Prefecture’s plants, lawsuits by residents like the one in Otsu have the potential to slow down, if not halt, Kepco’s plans for restarts.

The original injunction was brought by Shiga residents who fear an accident at the plant would have a damaging impact on Lake Biwa, the nation’s largest freshwater lake and the source of water for about 14 million residents in cities such as Kyoto and Osaka.

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

Japan court rejects appeal, keeps ban on restarting 2 nuclear reactors


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.

OTSU, Japan (Kyodo) — A Japanese court kept its ban on operation of two nuclear reactors at the Takahama power plant in Fukui Prefecture on Friday by rejecting the plant operator’s request to suspend an injunction it had issued over the reactivated reactors.

The Otsu District Court’s decision concerns the injunction issued in March over the Nos. 3 and 4 units at the Kansai Electric Power Co. plant that marked a major setback for the government’s push to ramp up nuclear power generation. Local residents had filed for the injunction on safety concerns.

In Friday’s decision, the court said it “cannot conclude that (the reactors) are safe, merely because they have met new regulatory standards on nuclear power plants.” New, more stringent safety rules were introduced in 2013 in the wake of the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

“Kansai Electric should at least explain how the regulations on operation and designs of nuclear power plants were toughened and how it responded to them,” the decision said.

The decision, issued under the same presiding judge, Yoshihiko Yamamoto, as the injunction in March, marks the final word on one process regarding the injunction because Kansai Electric cannot take further action on it.

The two reactors will remain offline as long as the injunction is not invalidated through a separate track examining an objection filed by Kansai Electric when the court issued the injunction. This track is also being presided over by the same judge.

The March 9 injunction was the first of its kind affecting operating reactors. One of the reactors was taken offline one day after the order. The other reactor was already offline.

The court said then there are “problematic points” in planned responses for major accidents and “questions” on tsunami countermeasures and evacuation planning, in light of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The Osaka-based utility subsequently sought to suspend the injunction, saying its safety measures are thoroughly proven and the court’s decision was scientifically and technologically groundless. It also said the suspension of the reactors has cost the company 300 million yen ($2.88 million) in losses daily.

The Takahama plant had cleared the post-Fukushima safety regulations in February last year, allowing Kansai Electric to reactivate the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors on Jan. 29 and Feb. 26, respectively. But their operations were beset with problems, with the No. 4 unit shutting down automatically due to a trouble just three days after it was rebooted.

The residents of Shiga Prefecture living within 70 kilometers of the four-reactor plant had filed the injunction as they worried about their safety in the event of a nuclear accident or disaster.

The plaintiffs argued that safety measures are insufficient and feared residents’ exposure to radiation in case of a severe accident.

A part of Shiga falls within a 30-kilometer radius of the plant, which is set by the central government as an evacuation preparedness zone.



June 17, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fears grow as Takahama reactors near restart

Furthermore those reactors in case of nuclear accident are much more dangerous because they are using  the MOX fuel, with contains lethal plutonium added to uranium.

OSAKA – As two aging reactors in the town of Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, move toward restart, safety concerns are growing in neighboring prefectures and municipalities within 30 km of the plant.

Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama No. 1 and 2 reactors are over 40 years old, but the utility has applied for a 20-year extension. On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority officially gave the reactors the green light, signaling they meet the fundamental safety standards needed for reactivation.

Although additional tests and inspections are needed before the reactors can resume operation, the potential first-ever restart of two units that are more than four decades old has neighboring communities worried.

The Sea of Japan coastal city of Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, parts of which lie 5 km from Takahama, would be on the front lines of any disaster response in the event of an accident, and Mayor Ryozo Tatami expressed specific concerns Wednesday.

“At present, has the safety of the plant been confirmed? We need scientific and technological explanations. The No. 1 and 2 reactors were envisioned and constructed to operate for 40 years,” Tatami said. “We also need documentation from when the plant was originally built that proves it’s possible to operate the reactor for 60 years, especially since the core cannot be replaced.”

Caution by Tatami in particular over restarting Takahama Nos. 1 and 2 could impact the stance of other Kansai leaders.

A small part of northern Shiga Prefecture lies within 30 km of Takahama, and Gov. Taizo Mikazuki expressed concern this week about running old reactors that could leak radiation into Lake Biwa, as well as the problem of storing additional nuclear waste generated by the reactors.

While gaining approval for restarts from heavily pro-nuclear Takahama and Fukui Prefecture is expected to be relatively easy, Kepco is certain to face calls from other Kansai-area prefectures to provide detailed explanations of why it needs to restart two aging reactors before permission for their restart is given.

It is also likely to face questions about whether the utility and NRA are cutting corners in order to make the July 7 deadline for formal permission to restart. If that deadline is missed, the reactors are supposed to be scrapped.

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment