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Tepco and Toshiba join forces to upgrade Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant

KKTepco Holdings Corporation and Toshiba Energy Systems Corporation have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a company to carry out safety upgrade measures at unit 6 of Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.

 

In December 2017, Tepco received approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to change the installation of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units 6 and 7. It is currently working to obtain approval for the construction plan for unit 7. In parallel with the examination, it is working on preparations for the application for construction plan approval for unit 6.

“Tepco and Toshiba have brought together technologies and knowledge that cross-industry boundaries to jointly establish a company responsible for safety measures for Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station 6,” the companies said. “We aim to establish a new company in mid-June and aim to start a full-scale business in July 2020. Going forward, we will aim to improve safety and quality by maximising the synergistic and complementary effects of the two companies toward the completion of safety measures for the Kashiwazaki Kariwa 6.”

The 1356MWe Kashiwazaki Kariwa 6, a boiling water reactor (BWR), began commercial operation in 1996.

The new company, KK6 Safety Measures Joint Venture Co Ltd, has an investment of JPY 300 million ($2.8m) and capital of JPY150 million with Toshiba and Tepco each holding 50%.

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa was unaffected by the 2011 earthquake, although its reactors were all previously offline for up to three years following the 2007 Niigata-Chuetsu earthquake, which caused damage to the site but did not to the reactors. While the units were shut, work was carried out to improve the plant’s earthquake resistance. Currently, Tepco is focusing on units 6 and 7 while it deals with the Fukushima clean-up. The two units have been offline for periodic inspections since March 2012 and August 2011, and restarting them would increase Tepco’s earnings by an estimated JPY100 billion a year.

Units 6 and 7 at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa are the first BWRs to meet Japan’s revised regulatory standards. Tepco expects to complete safety upgrades at the units by December 2020.

In 2017, Tepco received initial approval from NRA to restart Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 6 and 7. The plant’s total capacity of 8,212MWe represents 20% of Japan’s nuclear capacity. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is Tepco’s only remaining nuclear plant after it announced plans to shut its Fukushima Daini station, near the Fukushima Daichi plant destroyed in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

https://www.neimagazine.com/news/newstepco-and-toshiba-join-forces-to-upgrade-kashiwazaki-kariwa-nuclear-plant-7961478

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Chairman of Tepco, owner of Fukushima nuclear plant, to resign

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Takashi Kawamura, the chairman of Tepco has held the post since 2017. However, he has expressed his intention to step down, partly due to age.

 

April 28, 2020

TOKYO — The chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings will resign, Nikkei learned on Tuesday.

Takashi Kawamura, 80, has held the post since 2017. However, he has expressed his intention to step down partly due to age. Indications at this point are that a successor will not immediately be named.

The Japanese government has asked a number of industry leaders to assume the post, but no one has so far accepted. Without a chairman, the outlook for the company in the continuing aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident appears challenging.

Tepco will soon hold a board of directors’ meeting and officially approve Kawamura’s resignation. A new management arrangement will start in June.

Kawamura also held the position of chairman of the board. Shoei Utsuda, ex-chairman of Mitsui & Co., and unaffiliated director at Tepco, will take over that post.

Kawamura succeeded Fumio Sudo, former president of JFE Holdings. Before assuming Tepco’s chairmanship, Kawamura worked for Hitachi for most of his career, contributing to the industrial conglomerate’s recovery as president following the 2008 financial crisis. At Tepco, Kawamura worked to raise employees’ awareness of the company’s difficulties in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown.

The chairman plays an important role in overseeing Tepco, especially because the power company has effectively been under government supervision since the nuclear disaster. With the chairmanship vacant, it is uncertain how much control the company will be able to exercise over its own governance.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Chairman-of-Tepco-owner-of-Fukushima-nuclear-plant-to-resign

 

May 14, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO ordered to cough up after it refused deal on compensation

Earlier in February, a Japanese judge ordered TEPCO to pay over 50 plaintiffs: “Refusing the court’s settlement offer was outrageous. It amounted to ignoring the company’s responsibility for causing this unprecedented nuclear disaster.”

ggjlmùPlaintiffs and supporters at a news conference in Fukushima after the court ruling on Feb. 19

February 20, 2020

FUKUSHIMA–The district court here sided with local residents seeking compensation for psychological damage resulting from the 2011 nuclear disaster after the operator of the stricken facility snubbed mediation efforts for a settlement.

The court on Feb. 19 ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay 12.03 million yen ($108,000) to 50 of the 52 plaintiffs. 

The plaintiffs had sought 99 million yen in damages for their psychological suffering due to their voluntary evacuation after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and fear of being exposed to high levels of radiation.

In his ruling, Presiding Judge Toru Endo noted that residents who evacuated voluntarily found themselves living an uncertain and insecure existence with no future prospects.

The court acknowledged that those who didn’t evacuate were also unable to move around freely, given that they lived in fear and anxiety over the prospect of being exposed to radiation.

The court ordered TEPCO to pay between 22,000 yen and 286,000 yen to each eligible plaintiff, in addition to a uniform compensation sum of 120,000 yen per person that the utility had already paid.

The court recommended a settlement last December, the first of its kind among 30 or so class action lawsuits filed around the country over the nuclear accident, but TEPCO refused to comply.

Residents living in designated voluntary evacuation zones in Fukushima city and other areas more than 30 kilometers from the nuclear power plant filed the lawsuit in April 2016, seeking higher compensation than the figure stipulated in the government’s guidelines.

The plaintiffs had sought to settle the lawsuit quickly in light of their mental exhaustion and advanced age rather than engage in a drawn-out process.

In a statement, TEPCO said it will consider how to respond to the ruling after thoroughly examining it.

‘REFUSING SETTLEMENT OUTRAGEOUS’

After the ruling, Yoshitaro Nomura, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, condemned the stance that TEPCO took on the matter.

Refusing the court’s settlement offer was outrageous. It amounted to ignoring the company’s responsibility for causing this unprecedented nuclear disaster,” Nomura said.

Groups of disaster victims resorted to a system called alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, in the hope of winning compensation for the nuclear accident. But many of them started facing an impasse in the process two years ago after TEPCO refused to accept deals proposed by the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center.

The issue was taken up in the Diet, and the industry minister warned the utility to be more cooperative. However, the number of ADR cases that went nowhere continues to rise.

TEPCO refused to change course even after the district court recommended a settlement in a trial where the plaintiffs and the defendant are required to provide more solid arguments and proof.

The court-ordered compensation of 12.03 million yen comes to almost the same amount as the court proposed in the settlement last December. The government guidelines set individual compensation at 120,000 yen.

TEPCO has made it clear it intends to make no compromise on settlement offers that may lead to a revision of the government’s guidelines,” said lawyer Izutaro Manaki, a member of the Daini Tokyo Bar Association who is well-versed in compensation issues.

As of Feb. 14, TEPCO had paid more than 9.32 trillion yen in compensation. The company has covered the costs through government loans and higher electricity rates.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13144481

February 27, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Gov’t liability denied for nukes damages, Tepco to pay minimal damages to evacuees

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Satoshi Abe (standing), head of the plaintiffs’ legal team, speaks at a news conference following the Yamagata District Court ruling in the city of Yamagata, northern Japan, on Dec. 17. 2019.
TEPCO ordered to pay minimal damages to Fukushima evacuees; Japan gov’t liability denied
 
December 18, 2019
YAMAGATA — The Yamagata District Court on Dec. 17 ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to pay a total of 440,000 yen in damages to five plaintiffs who evacuated due to the March 2011 triple-meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, while also absolving the Japanese state of liability.
Not only did the ruling dismiss the plaintiffs’ damages claims against the central government, the compensation amount falls far short of the more than 8-billion-yen (about $73 million) total sought by the 734 people in 201 households who were party to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs, who evacuated from Fukushima to neighboring Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan following the nuclear disaster, have stated they will appeal.
The ruling was the 13th by a district court in similar cases filed across the country. Among those, 10 lawsuits were filed against the government and TEPCO, and the state was found liable in six of them.
Regarding the plaintiffs beyond the five granted compensation, Presiding Judge Nobuyuki Kaihara stated that “the consolation money sought does not exceed what they have already been paid by Tokyo Electric,” among other reasons for denying them damages.
The decision went on to say that “there was a limit” to what degree the tsunami that disabled the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s cooling systems could have been predicted, and therefore the Japanese state was not liable to pay the nuclear disaster evacuees compensation. The court also found that though TEPCO was liable for some damages, “we cannot conclude that the company committed gross negligence. Practically speaking, it is difficult to say that the firm could have implemented rational controls (at the plant) to prevent an accident.”
The plaintiffs’ suit had demanded 11 million yen in compensation per person — the highest of any nuclear disaster evacuee civil suit in Japan save one filed with the Fukushima District Court. More than 90% of the households that were party to the Yamagata lawsuit had lived in the city of Fukushima and other parts of the northeastern prefecture not covered by mandatory evacuation orders.
“The ruling was a result that betrayed our expectations,” commented Satoshi Abe, who led the plaintiffs’ legal team. Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulation Authority secretariat refrained from comment on the case, while TEPCO stated that it would “examine the content of the ruling and consider a response.”
Court denies state liability for nuke damages
December 18, 2019
YAMAGATA (Jiji Press) — The Yamagata District Court rejected Tuesday the claim that the government is liable for damages over the March 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Meanwhile, the court ordered TEPCO to pay a total of ¥440,000 in compensation to five plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by 734 people of 201 households who evacuated to Yamagata Prefecture after the nuclear accident.
About 90% of the plaintiffs, who sought some ¥8,074 million in total damages, are evacuees from outside areas for which a government evacuation order was issued following the triple meltdown accident at the plant, stricken by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The ruling marked the 10th of its kind for collective lawsuits against the government and TEPCO over the nuclear accident. This is the fourth time that state liability for damages has been denied.
The plaintiffs said the government and TEPCO could have predicted a tsunami that would lead to a nuclear accident on the basis of a long-term assessment to forecast the scale and probability of earthquakes. The assessment was disclosed by a government organization in 2002.
The accident could have been avoided if the government and TEPCO had set up coastal levees and made the emergency power system watertight, the plaintiffs also said.
But Presiding Judge Nobuyuki Kaihara rejected the claim of government liability for compensation. “Although there was a foreseeability [of the accident], we can’t help saying that there was a limit to it,” he said.
The court ordered TEPCO to pay some compensation under the law to compensate for nuclear-related damages.
“I wanted [the court] to understand our hardship,” said a female plaintiff who evacuated with her three children from Fukushima Prefecture, which hosts the crippled nuclear power plant
 

December 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO estimates tritium volume for disposal from Fukushima plant

Tritium, radioactive hydrogen, is clinically recognized as causing cancer, birth defects and genetic mutation. That should be plastered on the side of nuclear power plants.
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Storage tanks containing processed but still contaminated water at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant
November 18, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Holdings Co. on Nov. 18 released for the first time an estimate of the annual disposal amount of radioactive tritium from its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The volume will vary from 27 trillion to 106 trillion becquerel, depending on the commencement date and ending time of the disposal process, according to a report the utility presented to a subcommittee of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
In comparison, a domestic nuclear power plant in operation usually dumps liquid radioactive waste that contains tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, from several hundred billion up to 100 trillion becquerel annually into the ocean, according to the ministry.
In line with the comparison, there will be no health-related problem by being exposed to radiation of the tritium disposed of from the Fukushima plant, the ministry said.
TEPCO made its preliminary calculation in substantiating the impact of the long-term storage of contaminated water.
The estimate set the total amount of tritium contained in the radioactive water stored in the tanks to be 860 trillion becquerel as of January 2020. Four starting dates of the disposal process were set as the beginning of 2020, 2025, 2030 and 2035.
The estimate assumed two ending times for the disposal at the end of 2041 and 2051, based on the progress schedule set by the government and the utility, which predicted the reactor decommissioning to be completed in 30 to 40 years.
The amount of tritium is expected to decay naturally over time. Still, the estimate revealed that the later the starting date is, the more the annual disposal amount will be.
Since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant in Fukushima Prefecture, TEPCO has processed and stored a large amount of radiation-contaminated water in tanks on the grounds of the plant.
Even after being treated with a filtering system, the polluted water still contains tritium, which will be released when the water is dumped into the ocean or is disposed of in another manner.
The volume of contaminated water has continued to accumulate from the cooling of melted nuclear fuel debris and underground water pouring in.
TEPCO said that it cannot keep installing more storage tanks for the contaminated water due to space limitations of the site and that all the tanks will be full by around the summer of 2022.
If the disposal process hasn’t begun by then, TEPCO will have to build more storage tanks, exceeding the limit, which will lead to a delay in the construction of other facilities that are necessary for the decommissioning work of the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

November 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear regulator says cost-cutting culture creating mistakes, delays at Fukushima plant

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The No. 3 reactor, right, and No. 2 reactor, left, are seen in this photo of work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in November 2018, provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.
November 8, 2019
TOKYO — Decommissioning efforts following the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station have been hit by delays and a series of mistakes contravening safety rules relating to the operation of nuclear facilities.
In response to the issues, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) is carrying out a survey into whether operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has sufficient staffing numbers working on the project, and is seeking to have TEPCO’s board improve its preparations.
According to the secretariat of the NRA, this summer there were errors in the wiring of electrical cables to the No. 5 and 6 reactors, which caused problems when smoke started to emerge from equipment attached to the reactors.
Furthermore, drinking facilities are being continually installed in controlled zones with high levels of radioactivity where they are forbidden from being built, and it has emerged that workers have drunk water from those areas. In October, the NRA identified both incidents as contravening safety regulations.
Elsewhere, the continuation of work to remove spent nuclear fuel from storage pools at the No. 3 reactor has been delayed. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said, “It appears the absolute number of such workers (who manage the work at the power station) is insufficient. If small mistakes continue, it creates the danger of leading to big mistakes.”
Ryusuke Kobayashi, head of the Fukushima Daiichi NRA Regional Office, attended a regular meeting of the NRA on Nov. 6. Regarding the situation at the power station, he said, “There’s a strong focus on cost-cutting at the site. It has an atmosphere which makes it difficult to speak out and say there are too few people working there.” At a press conference after the meeting, chairman Fuketa stressed that it was essential for more staff to be secured.
In response to the NRA, a representative at TEPCO said, “It’s believed an easing of vigilance at the site has been one reason (for the mistakes). The number of human errors has stayed at between 100 and 200 each year for the last five years. We want to proceed with a plan to resolve this considering the specific characteristics of the working environment at the site.”
(Japanese original by Yuka Saito and Suzuko Araki, Science & Environment News Department)

November 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO needs to make its case for bailing out aging nuclear plant

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Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant in Ibaraki Prefecture
October 31, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) decided on Oct. 28 to provide financial support to Japan Atomic Power Co., the operator of the aging Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant.
TEPCO will provide support to help Japan Atomic Power finance the work to implement legally required safety measures at the plant in the form of advance payments for the electricity it plans to buy from the company in the future.
Japan Atomic Power is seeking to restart the currently offline plant in Ibaraki Prefecture.
TEPCO says it made the decision because the plant is expected to serve again as “a source of power that helps provide inexpensive and stable electricity that emits less carbon dioxide to customers.”
At a news conference to announce the decision, however, the utility did not disclose the amount it will provide, although it is estimated to exceed 220 billion yen ($2.02 billion).
The company also refused to reveal the price at which it will buy electricity generated at the plant, failing to back up its claim that the power will be “inexpensive.”
TEPCO even kept mum about an outline of its planned financial aid that can be easily guessed by other electric utilities or experts, saying providing such information would “put us at a disadvantage in competition with other companies.”
TEPCO, the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, has been put under effective state control so that it can pay huge amounts in compensation to victims of the 2011 nuclear disaster and also finance the colossal cost of decommissioning the reactors destroyed by the core meltdowns.
TEPCO is coming to the rescue of another financially struggling company while being kept alive with taxpayer money. But it does not offer detailed information about its rescue plan or convincing reasons for the action.
How can the utility expect to win public support for the plan?
TEPCO says the money it will provide to Japan Atomic Power will not be “support” but a form of “cooperation” and create a “win-win” situation for both sides.
But strong opposition to a restart of the Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant, which began operations in 1978, will make it a tough challenge, to say the least, to win the support of the local communities.
TEPCO’s decision is based on highly uncertain assumptions.
The plan to rebuild TEPCO, developed jointly with the central government, calls on the utility to fulfill its responsibility as the operator of the disaster-stricken nuclear plant by making a profit from nuclear power generation.
But there seems to be no prospect of an early resumption of the operation of its own Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture. The gloomy outlook of its nuclear power operations has probably prompted TEPCO to make the seemingly premature decision, which raises serious doubt.
If the reactor at the Tokai No. 2 plant cannot be restarted, TEPCO will only suffer massive additional losses instead of earning profits.
Japan Atomic Power’s two reactors–the other in Fukui Prefecture–have remained offline since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Even so, major electric utilities under contracts to buy electricity from Japan Atomic Power have paid some 1 trillion yen in total as basic fees for the contracts. It has been also revealed that these utilities all plan to provide financial support to help Japan Atomic Power restart the Tokai No. 2 plant.
Since these utilities also have stakes in Japan Atomic Power, the firm’s failure would cause hefty losses to them.
They seem determined to keep supporting the embattled nuclear power supplier to avoid such losses. But there are clearly limits to what such stopgap measures can do.
Commenting on TEPCO’s decision to provide financial support to Japan Atomic Power, Hiroshi Kajiyama, the industry minister, who is in charge of the power industry, said such “specific management decisions should be made at the discretion of the management team” unless they could disrupt efforts to pay compensation to victims of the nuclear disaster, decommission disabled reactors or ensure a stable power supply.
Kajiyama’s comment signals a noncommittal stance toward TEPCO’s decision although his ministry can effectively control the company’s management.
The government, which has been promoting nuclear power generation as a national policy, has a duty to tackle basic questions related to the matter, such as what to do with reactors that are difficult to resume operations and Japan Atomic Power, which only operates nuclear plants and is therefore facing bleak future prospects.
The government should play an active role in dealing with these and other questions instead of leaving the industry to do so and fulfill its responsibility to explain its related policies and agendas.

November 4, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

New tactics from TEPCO to get Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP reopening approval

Japan’s Tepco weighs retiring some reactors at massive plant
Dismantling one or more units geared to easing local opposition to resuming operations
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When fully operational, Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility is the largest nuclear power plant in the world.
August 24, 2019
TOKYO — Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings is considering decommissioning one or more of the seven reactors at a key nuclear power plant in northern Japan, Nikkei has learned, as it attempts to ease community pushback against restarting it.
Tepco will not aim to reactivate all of the No. 1 through No. 5 reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture — meltdown-hit Fukushima Prefecture’s western neighbor. It will instead pick at least one of them to dismantle after restarting the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors, as approved by the central government. Tepco President Tomoaki Kobayakawa is expected to convey that intent to Masahiro Sakurai, mayor of the city of Kashiwazaki, in meetings on Monday.
The plant — the world’s largest when fully operational — is undergoing separate checks led by the prefectural government, leaving the time frame for a restart unclear.
The utility hopes that offering a plan for decommissioning down the road, as Sakurai has demanded, will help win over locals for its efforts to restart the two greenlit reactors, an important step in improving its financial health.
Tepco decided in late July to retire all its remaining reactors in Fukushima Prefecture on top of the ongoing decommissioning of disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi, the site of the 2011 meltdown resulting from a massive earthquake and tsunami. Coming on the heels of July’s move, the utility judged that issues of manpower and finance would preclude immediately moving to dismantle parts of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa.
In June 2017, Sakurai asked that Tepco present a plan for dismantling at least one of reactors No. 1 through No. 5 within two years as a condition for restarting No. 6 and No. 7. Tepco has missed that deadline. Restarting the two reactors, which passed central-government safety inspections in December 2017, would likely create an easier environment for tackling the problem.
Tepco aims to shoulder the costs of decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi and paying out compensation. An outflow of customers on its capital-area home turf has left it in worsening financial straits. It hopes for relief from Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, where each reactor it restarts is expected to provide a roughly 100 billion yen ($939 million) shot in the arm per year.

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

Tepco toughens stance toward nuclear disaster damages settlement

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Plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking damages compensation over the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown crisis walk toward the Tokyo District Court on Aug. 2.
Aug 11, 2019
FUKUSHIMA – Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. has become significantly more reluctant since last year to accept a government body’s recommendations for a settlement of damages claims by people affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, government officials and lawyers involved said.
The company’s tougher stance in negotiating out-of-court compensation settlements could force those affected to resort to lengthy and costly legal actions.
 
Lawyers representing residents of Fukushima say some have given up on taking their claims to court due to legal costs, after Tepco rejected the body’s settlement proposals.
Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which was triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the government established the dispute resolution body to broker settlements between Tepco and people seeking compensation.
Three nuclear reactors at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 plant suffered meltdowns, which led to the contamination of wide areas of Fukushima Prefecture.
According to the government, more than 31,000 people who evacuated from their homes in Fukushima are still living outside the prefecture.
In the process, called alternative dispute resolution, the body proposes settlement terms based on government guidelines regarding the types of damages and costs eligible for compensation.
Tepco said in 2014 it would respect the body’s reconciliation proposals even though the company is under no legal obligation to do so.
In 2018, the body terminated 49 settlement proposals due to Tepco’s refusal to accept them, including nine cases brought by employees of the power company and their relatives, its officials said. The cases involved at least 19,000 residents near the plant, they said.
The number was a significant increase from 61 in the four years through 2017. All of those during the four-year period were cases in which Tepco employees or their family members sought compensation. In many of the rejected cases, Tepco refused to pay damages because the company saw the recommended compensation as unjustifiable under the government guidelines, the officials said.
The officials said the body decided to discontinue the resolution processes partly to encourage residents to consider legal action.
One of the lawyers representing Fukushima residents said, “Tepco may be concerned that uniformly compensating residents according to settlement proposals would lead to a revision of the government guidelines to its disadvantage.”

August 12, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO bears responsibility for decommissioning over generations

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Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant
July 29, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Co. has announced that it will decommission all four reactors at its Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant.
The decision indicates the landscape of nuclear energy in Japan is entering an age of mass decommissioning.
TEPCO plans to work concurrently to scrap a total of 10 nuclear reactors, including all six at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the site of the 2011 disaster. The task will be almost unparalleled and unprecedented in the world in terms of its scale.
TEPCO should fulfill its momentous duties in undertaking the task to help rebuild disaster-stricken communities of Fukushima Prefecture.
It took TEPCO an entire year to make the latest decision after the utility said last year it would consider the decommissioning option. That is enough evidence there are high barriers to be surmounted.
One difficulty consists in ensuring the availability of workers.
A staff of 3,600 is currently working to scrap the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, where four reactors went crippled. Work to grasp the full picture of the reactor interiors, where nuclear fuel melted down, remains in a trial-and-error stage and is facing extremely rough going.
The latest decision means the Fukushima No. 2 plant, a logistic support base for those efforts, will itself be an additional site of decommissioning work.
TEPCO officials said they have largely figured out how the work will be done. We are left to wonder, however, how they plan to get all the necessary, highly skilled workers.
The task should be undertaken cautiously and steadily so there will be no accidents.
While it is believed it takes about 30 years to decommission a typical nuclear reactor, TEPCO officials said it will likely take more than 40 years to scrap all the reactors at the Fukushima No. 2 plant because the work cannot be done on all four reactors there in one continuous period.
That is about the same span of time that someone spends working for a company from entrance as a new hire through retirement age. The efforts will straddle generations.
TEPCO will be required to keep its staff highly motivated and to overcome any difficulties responsibly during all that time.
While the scrapping work will only start after specific plans for it have been approved by the government’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, solutions have yet to be decided for many anticipated problems.
The four reactors of the Fukushima No. 2 plant contain about 10,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies. TEPCO plans to have them stored temporarily on the grounds of the nuclear plant before having them taken out of Fukushima Prefecture.
But where exactly they will be taken “will be studied in the years to come,” said Tomoaki Kobayakawa, president of TEPCO Holdings Inc.
Some rules remain to be determined for the disposal of radioactive waste, of which more than 50,000 tons are expected to be produced.
Decommissioning of nuclear reactors is a challenge that faces all major electric utilities.
Decisions have been made to scrap 21 nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, and more are expected over time.
The question of what to do with spent fuel and radioactive waste should not be put on the back burner. The government should work to solve it.
Rising costs due to tightened safety measures have given a push to utilities’ decisions to scrap their reactors. Only nine reactors have so far been brought back online following the Fukushima disaster.
Plans to build new nuclear plants and reactors are making little progress. As a matter of reality, nuclear energy is losing the status of a mainstay power source.
That notwithstanding, utilities still stick to their old stance of continued reliance on nuclear power, saying they want to utilize what they have.
TEPCO is no exception. The owner of seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture is hoping to reactivate the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors there for starters.
Major utilities, especially TEPCO, are required to face up to the tough reality and look at what lies beyond the age of mass decommissioning. They bear the social responsibility to assign ample human and financial resources for renewable energy sources, which will be a major pillar of power supply for the next generation, among other areas.

July 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO ordered to compensate ex-plant worker

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June 26, 2019
A Japanese district court has ordered the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi power station to pay about 3,000 dollars in damages to a man who worked at the plant just after the 2011 nuclear accident.
The man says he was exposed to radiation without being informed about high radiation levels in a building where he worked.
In his suit against Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, and its subcontractors, the 53-year-old plaintiff demanded more than 100,000 dollars in damages.
He said he was forced to work in the turbine building basement of the plant’s crippled No. 3 reactor while being uninformed of a pool of highly radioactive water there.
The Iwaki branch of the Fukushima District Court on Wednesday handed down the compensation order to TEPCO for psychological damage to the plaintiff caused by working at the plant.
The court said he felt concern and fear while warning signals were sounding that indicated another worker alongside him was exposed to radiation exceeding the utility-set limit of 20 millisieverts.
But the court said 16 millisieverts the plaintiff was exposed to in an hour and half were below a level that would pose a health hazard.
The court also turned down his suits against two subcontractors of the utility. It found them not liable for his damage, saying responsibility for a nuclear disaster lies with the nuclear operator.
The plaintiff’s lawyer said the ruling was the first in favor of a Fukushima Daiichi plant worker, but partly granted his demands. The lawyer added that this will encourage other workers.
TEPCO says it will study the ruling in detail and deal with it sincerely.

June 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO decides not to hire foreign workers at nuclear plant

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May 22, 2019
Workers check the advanced liquid processing system used to treat contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in December. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced May 22 it was backtracking on plans to use foreign workers at its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant after the health ministry urged extreme caution.
The utility said it will not hire foreign workers at the plant “in the immediate future” as it will need “much more time to put a system in place to ensure their safety.”
The company noted that hiring foreign workers at the nuclear plant under a new specified skills visa category that took effect in April could result in work-related accidents and long-term health problems due to their lack of Japanese language skills and understanding of Japanese labor practices.
The announcement followed a health ministry caution May 21 for TEPCO to carefully reconsider its policy of using foreign workers at the complex.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare noted that TEPCO was keen to take advantage of a new specified skills visa category and hire foreign workers, but urged the company to exercise “extreme caution.”
The ministry was concerned about foreign nationals with a limited command of Japanese being in an environment contaminated with radioactive substances.
The ministry had said that if TEPCO went ahead with hiring foreign workers, the company and its contractors involved in decommissioning had to take at least the same level of protective measures that apply to Japanese workers to ensure that they fully understand safety sanitation and avoid the health risk of excessive radiation exposure.
Even though eight years have passed since the triple meltdown, radiation levels remain high in many areas of the Fukushima plant, especially around the reactor buildings.
The decommissioning process that is expected to take years will involve a range of gargantuan tasks, one being the removal of melted nuclear fuel debris from the reactors.
Under the recently revised immigration control law, foreign workers with specified skills are permitted to work at nuclear power plants.
The ministry acknowledges that it is ultimately up to individual employers to decide whether or not to accept foreign workers on their payrolls.
But experts in Japan and overseas who are keen for the new visa program to be a success have also voiced concerns about foreign workers at the Fukushima plant developing radiation-related health issues and being able to manage them after they return to their home countries.
Foreign workers arriving in Japan in one of the two categories of specified skills can stay in the country for up to five years.
“Since there are no legal constraints, the ministry moved one step ahead of TEPCO,” said a senior ministry official, referring to the request for a rethink of the policy.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga referred to the ministry’s caution at a May 21 news conference, saying that TEPCO should be prepared to fully address a range of health-related problems that may arise in the future.
The utility notified dozens of its contractors at a meeting in late March that it will accept foreign workers at the Fukushima plant.
Currently, about 4,000 people toil at the plant each day. Most areas of the complex are categorized as controlled areas to guard against radiation exposure.
Under the law, workers at a nuclear facility must not be exposed to more than 100 millisieverts of radiation over five years and 50 millisieverts a year.

 

 

May 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO urged to be cautious about using foreign workers in Fukushima

21 may 2019
This photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter shows a trailer (bottom center) thought to be carrying nuclear fuel from one of the reactor buildings at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
May 21, 2019
TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Japanese government on Tuesday urged the operator of the disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to carefully examine its plan to have foreigners work at the complex under a new visa program, citing difficulties in managing the long-term health risk.
“It is necessary to give very deliberate consideration” to whether foreigners who come to Japan under the new visa program should engage in decommissioning work at the plant, labor minister Takumi Nemoto told reporters.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said last month it plans to accept foreign workers at the facility hit by the 2011 megaquake and tsunami.
The minister expressed concern about the ability to conduct long-term health management for foreign workers after they return to their home countries upon expiration of their visas.
“It is necessary to establish a safety and health management procedure that is equivalent or more advanced than that for Japanese workers,” Nemoto said.
The new visa program launched this April is intended to bring in mainly blue-collar foreign workers to 14 labor-hungry sectors including construction, farming and nursing care in aging Japan. TEPCO has confirmed with the Justice Ministry that holders of visas under the scheme are eligible to work at the Fukushima plant.
The government also urged TEPCO to consider implementing measures to manage the amount of radiation exposure for workers engaged in decommissioning tasks.
It also requested the utility to study whether it can use native languages for safety training and when issuing safety warnings at workplaces for workers who lack general proficiency in the Japanese language and familiarity with the country’s customs.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare demanded TEPCO report back to the ministry on the outcome of its deliberations without setting a deadline.
TEPCO said it has told dozens of its subcontractors that foreigners coming to Japan under the new visa program can not only engage in decommissioning work at the plant, but also take up building cleaning roles and work in the provision of food service.
To prevent unsafe levels of radiation exposure, TEPCO has said foreign workers must have Japanese language abilities that enable them to accurately understand the risks and to follow procedures and orders communicated to them in Japanese.
In radiation-controlled areas, workers need to carry dosimeters. On average, approximately 4,000 people work for TEPCO subcontractors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant each day.
To address exploitation fears under the new visa system, the Justice Ministry has issued an ordinance requiring employers to pay wages equivalent to or higher than those of Japanese nationals.

May 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO plans to use new foreign workers at Fukushima plant

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Rows of storage tanks hold radiation-contaminated water on the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
April 18, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to use the new visa program to deploy foreign workers to its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, sparking concerns that language barriers could cause safety hazards and accidents.
The specified skills visa program started in April to alleviate labor shortages in 14 different industrial sectors. TEPCO says it has long lacked enough workers for decommissioning work at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
At a March 28 meeting, the utility explained its plan to hire foreign workers to dozens of construction and other companies that have been contracted for decommissioning work.
TEPCO officials asked the companies to be aware that workers sent to radiation monitoring zones must wear dosimeters and receive special education about the dangers they will face.
The new work visa program requires the foreign workers to have a minimum level of Japanese language ability needed for daily life.
But TEPCO officials reminded the company representatives that Japanese language skills would be even more important at the Fukushima plant because of the need to accurately understand radiation levels and follow instructions by superiors and colleagues regarding work safety.
TEPCO officials said they would ask the contracting companies to check on the Japanese language skills of prospective foreign workers.
But at least one construction company has already decided not to hire any foreign workers.
“The work rules at the No. 1 plant are very complicated,” said a construction company employee who has worked at the Fukushima plant. “I am also worried about whether thorough education can be conducted on radiation matters. It would be frightening if an accident occurred due to a failure of communication.”
According to TEPCO officials, an average of about 4,000 people work at the nuclear plant each day, mostly in zones where radiation levels must be constantly monitored.
To stay within the legal limits on exposure levels, workers often have to be replaced, leading to difficulties for TEPCO in gathering the needed number of workers.
Between April 2018 and February this year, 11,109 people worked at the Fukushima plant. Of that number, 763 were found to have levels of radiation exposure between 10 and 20 millisieverts, while 888 had levels between 5 and 10 millisieverts.
The legal limit for radiation exposure for workers at nuclear plants is 50 millisieverts a year, and 100 millisieverts over a five-year period.
The Justice Ministry has disciplined companies that used technical intern trainees for decontamination work without adequately informing them of the dangers. The ministry has also clearly stated that such trainees are prohibited from doing decommissioning work at the Fukushima plant.
However, Justice Ministry officials told TEPCO that foreigners with the new visa status could work alongside Japanese staff at the nuclear plant.
Although their numbers are small, foreign workers and engineers have been accepted at the Fukushima plant. As of February, 29 foreigners had been registered as workers engaged in jobs that expose them to radiation.
A construction company official said such foreign workers were hired after their Japanese language ability was confirmed.
But concerns remains on whether the new foreign workers will be able to properly understand how much radiation exposure they have experienced.
“Even Japanese workers are not sure about how to apply for workers’ compensation due to radiation exposure,” said Minoru Ikeda, 66, who has published a book about his experiences in decommissioning work at the Fukushima plant until 2015. “The problem would only be exacerbated for foreign workers.”
Kazumi Takagi, a sociology professor at Gifu University, has conducted interviews with nuclear plant workers.
Noting the need for special protective gear to work at the Fukushima site, Takagi said: “Unless workers can instantly understand the language when minor mistakes or sudden problems occur, it could lead to a major accident. That, in turn, could cause major delays in the work.”

April 23, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | 1 Comment

TEPCO, despite financial woes, still thinking to make donations

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March 30, 2019
Saddled with massive outlays following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the parent company of Tokyo Electric Power Co. is only able to keep going through the injection of public funds.
Yet, it has emerged the company now feels it is in a position to donate about 200 million yen ($1.8 million) to a village in Aomori Prefecture through a special tax program that allows firms making payments to receive a corporate tax break.
The donations would underwrite the cost of three projects totaling 800 million yen that the village of Higashidori hopes will revitalize its economy. One program is for branding local farm and fishery products.
TEPCO gained approval in January 2011 to construct a nuclear power plant in Higashidori, and the initial plan was to begin operations in March 2017.
But the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that triggered the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant led to an indefinite postponement of construction work. The village had anticipated property tax revenues after the nuclear plant was constructed, but has had to undertake stiff fiscal belt-tightening instead. A number of inns in the village have since closed.
TEPCO Holdings on March 29 proposed the donation for fiscal 2018 to the village and also indicated it was prepared to make another donation for fiscal 2019.
Its largesse is at odds with the fact that TEPCO is effectively under state control, given the huge amounts of public funds pumped into the utility to keep it afloat.
It also faces crippling costs in decommissioning the stricken Fukushima plant and compensating victims of the nuclear accident.
Given the situation, eyebrows will likely be raised if donations are made to local municipalities that play host to nuclear plants seeking to resume operations or serve as candidate sites for new plants.
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March 31, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment