Visitors look at the logo of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) at the Energy Market Liberalisation Expo in Tokyo, Japan March 2, 2016
Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) submitted plans on Wednesday to sell a total of 70 billion yen ($612 million) of bonds, its first sale since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Tepco unit, Tepco Power Grid Inc, which is in charge of power transmission and distribution, said in a filing with the Kanto Local Finance Bureau it will sell a 30 billion yen three-year bond and a 40 billion yen five-year bond. The coupon will be set between March 3 and 17.
The sale will mark the return of the company to Japan’s corporate bond market, which it dominated before the 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986, bringing Tepco to its knees.
The utility, once Asia’s largest, was essentially nationalized after Fukushima. It currently faces billions of dollars in costs to dismantle the crippled Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant, decontaminate the area and compensate victims after the meltdown of three reactors.
Tepco, which has 650 billion yen worth of bonds maturing in the year ending March 2018, wants to restart regular bond issuance to ensure stable refinancing. It said the planned issue was to pay for “equipment, pay back debt and bond redemption.”
Investors, who were initially skeptical about the bond issuance plan, have become more comfortable with the utility’s outlook after the government last year provided more details on decommissioning and compensation costs.
Six firms have been hired to manage the sale: SMBC Nikko Securities, a unit of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group; Nomura Securities; Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, a unit of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc; Mizuho Securities, a unit of Mizuho Financial Group Inc; Daiwa Securities; and Shinkin Securities, a unit of Shinkin Central Bank.
By Pierre Fetet, translation Hervé Courtois
Difficult to be innovative on the subject of Fukushima. Would we have already said everything for the last six years that the catastrophe is going on?
Well, no, with the film of Linda Bendali, “From Paris to Fukushima, the secrets of a catastrophe”, the subject of the attitude of nuclear France in March 2011 had never been approached from this angle: while Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan faced with nuclear fire became anti-nuclear, the Fillon government launched the heavy artillery to counter any vehemence of debate on this subject in France.
For the french Minister of Industry, Eric Besson, it was an just incident. Nicolas Sarkozy invited himself to Japan while he was not expected, to promote nuclear in the midst of the atomic crisis. And France pretended to help Japan by sending unusable or outdated products.
Therefore a good documentary pointing both Japanese and French dysfunctions that we can see in replay here again a few days. http://pluzz.francetv.fr/videos/cellule_de_crise_,153344813.html
And a good synthesis by Arnaud Vaulerin there. http://www.liberation.fr/planete/2017/02/12/fukushima-la-bataille-de-la-france-au-nom-de-l-atome_1547304
At the beginning of the documentary, Tepco, champion of the lie and the unspoken is expressed by the voice of his spokesman Yuichi Okamura: “We never imagined that such an accident could happen. From the statistics, we calculated that the tsunami should not exceed 5 meters. Our forecasts were exceeded. “
He is then contradicted by the film director. I very much thank Linda Bendali for insisting that the report of the parliamentary inquiry commission on Fukushima gave as first conclusion that the Fukushima disaster was of human origin. Because few people understand the sequence of events and it is too often heard that “the Fukushima disaster was caused by the tsunami”.
The IRSN is always taken as an example and looks after its image. Normal, it is the official reference body. Yet I have already taken this institute several times in flagrante delicto of lie: Assurance that the evacuees would return within three months in 2011, http://fukushima.over-blog.fr/article-le-nouveau-pellerin-est-arrive-71748502.html
Assurance that there was no discharge of strontium and plutonium into Japan, http://www.fukushima-blog.com/2016/05/pourquoi-l-irsn-ment.html
Assurance that a nuclear power plant cannot explode in France … http://www.fukushima-blog.com/2016/05/pourquoi-l-irsn-ment.html
Thierry Charles even recently claimed to know where the corium is, even though Tepco itself does not know … http://www.lefigaro.fr/sciences/2017/02/10/01008-20170210ARTFIG00213–fukushima-tepco-evalue-peu-a-peu-l-ampleur-des-degats.php
In the documentary, the narrator assures that “IRSN is the first organization in the world to announce that the molten core has escaped from its confinement”. Indeed, listening to Jacques Repussard we get the impression that his institute communicated on this subject in March 2011.
However, six months after the catastrophe began, the IRSN still was writing: “It remains unclear whether molten fuel could be relocated to the bottom of the enclosure and in what quantity. “ (Communiqué of 25 August 2011) http://www.irsn.fr/FR/connaissances/Installations_nucleaires/Les-accidents-nucleaires/accident-fukushima-2011/crise-2011/impact-japon/Documents/IRSN_Seisme-Japon_25082011.pdf
No seriously. The first organization that announced the me of the three cores is Tepco, on 24 May 2011. And the IRSN announced it the next day. Previously, IRSN never wrote anything else, for reactors 1, 2 and 3, that “The injection of fresh water continues. The flow rate of the water injection is adjusted in order to ensure the cooling of the core, which remains partially depleted. “
In 2011, the first person who dared to break the omerta of the nuclear lobby is Mishio Ishikawa, founder of Japan Nuclear Technology Institute (JANTI): During a Japanese TV show on April 29, 2011, he stated that the hearts of Fukushima Daiichi reactors 1, 2 and 3 were 100% melted. http://www.fukushima-blog.com/article-les-coeurs-des-reacteurs-1-2-et-3-de-fukushima-dai-ichi-auraient-fondu-a-100-73003947.html
That’s the story, that’s how it happened. IRSN never said that before anyone. The IRSN respected the omerta on the total meltdown of the three hearts like all the actors of the nuclear world and obediently waited for Tepco to announce the reality to acquiesce, no matter what Jacques Repussard is saying now six years later.
– Naoto Kan went to the Fukushima Daiichi plant in full crisis and greatly disturbed the ongoing management of the ongoing crisis. Director Masao Yoshida was asked to explain and explain what he was doing, wasting precious time on those who tried to solve problems one by one (It was just before the explosions of No. 2 and No. 4!). The documentary suggests that Masao Yoshida was going to leave the nuclear plant with all the workers, and that through Kan’s intervention they were forced to stay. It’s not true. Tepco may have intended to leave the ship, but the plant’s director denied any plan to abandon the site.
– The documentary shows Naoto Kan kneeling before Nicolas Sarkozy. Politeness or industrial pressures? It is not known why he did not dare to counter the French nuclear VRP.
– Naoto Kan will remain for all inhabitants of evacuated areas the one who decided to raise the standard from 1 to 20 mSv / year. On the one hand, he was ready to evacuate Tokyo, but on the other he made a whole region irradiated with a very high radiation rate. Something is bizarre in these contradictory attitudes.
Pierre Pellerin, even disappeared, is still doing damages … Between the two parts of the documentary, Frédéric Boisset, editor-in-chief of Brainworks Press, presents the story of Chernobyl in this way: “In 1986, the radioactive cloud spread throughout Europe. The authorities do not have the technical means to measure the fallout, to give instructions to the French. Can we eat fruit and vegetables? Should we caulk indoors? It was to avoid this type of failure that this institute was created [the IRSN]. “
But this is not an interview taken on the spot, it is a carefully prepared text before the recording. Frédéric Boisset therefore pretends without blushing that the SCPRI of 1986, the ancestor of the IRSN, did not have the means to alert the French of the dangers of radioactivity! What an enormity! In Germany, they had the means to prohibit the sale of spinach and salads, to confine the students inside but not in France. Frédéric Boisset refeeds us the story of the Chernobyl radioactive plume that stops at the border? It is unbelievable that still in 2017 a journalist perpetuates the disinformation lie that began in 1986.
However, the IRSN, worthy successor of SCPRI, made this statement on March 15, 2011, the day when the radioactive cloud of Fukushima arrived in Tokyo: “A slight increase in ambient radioactivity in Tokyo is noted by a few measures. This elevation is not significant in terms of radiological impact. “ Pierre Pellerin would not have said better! At the same time, Olivier Isnard, an IRSN expert sent to Tokyo, advocated caulking the premises of the French embassy. Fortunately, Philippe Faure, the French ambassador to Japan, communicated to his expatriates at 10 am: “Stay in your houses, making sure to caulk them to the maximum, this effectively protects against the low-intensity radioactive elements that could pass through Tokyo. ” But at 8 pm, he changed his tone and resumed the official speech dictated by the IRSN: “The situation remains at this time quite safe in Tokyo. A very slight increase in radioactivity was recorded. It represents no danger for human health. “ 100 Bq / m3 would pose no health hazard for a radioactive cloud coming directly from a nuclear reactor? I am feeling not any more safe than in 1986 unfortunately.
One last deception. The IRSN has purposedly mistranslated the words of Masao Yoshida, director of the Fukushima Daiichi power station. Immediately after the explosion of Unit 3, the latter, distraught, called the headquarters to inform them of the situation. Tepco released this recording and the IRSN broadcasted it in a video in 2013. I do not know Japanese but I have Japanese friends who have assured me of the translation of his words. I give you both versions, that of my friends and that of the IRSN. The people knowing japanese will be able to check for themselves.
The Japanese TV version : https://youtu.be/OWCLXjEdwJM
The IRNS version : https://youtu.be/tjEHCGUx9JQ
The documentary gives another version: “HQ, HQ, it’s terrible! This is very serious ! “Yes, here HQ.” “It seems there was an explosion on reactor 3, which looks like a hydrogen explosion.” Who recommended this text to journalists? Even though Yoshida himself said “suijôki” (steam) and not “suiso” (hydrogen). The IRSN’s translation therefore censures the hypothesis put forward by the director of the nuclear plant: the steam explosion. This is normal, it is the official version of the Japanese government and the IRSN can not go against it.
The steam explosion is a taboo issue among nuclear communicators. Experts talk about it to each other, carry out studies about it, write theses about it, but never talk about it to the public because the subject of a nuclear power plant explosion is too anxiogenic. If we ever learned that a steam explosion had arrived in Fukushima, it would undermine the image of nuclear power worldwide.
In France, the political-industrial lobby has axed its communication on the control of hydrogen: All French power plants have hydrogen recombiners to avoid hydrogen explosions. But against an steam explosion, nothing can be done. When the containment vessel is full of water and the corium at 3000 ° C falls in it, it’s boom, whether in Japan or in France, whether it be a boiling water reactor or a pressurized water reactor.
The government on Feb. 7 submitted a legal revision bill to the Diet to stabilize funding for the decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The subject of the revisions is the law establishing the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. (NDF), which manages the flow of funds to nuclear accident victims and the long process of dismantling the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 plant.
The revisions will require plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to set aside funds secured through corporate restructuring with the NDF. The revisions will also give the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry the right to perform spot inspections of TEPCO offices to make sure the utility is making appropriate deposits.
Furthermore, the revision bill states that TEPCO must submit a reactor decommissioning plan and a financing scheme to fund that plan to the industry ministry every fiscal year. The NDF and the industry ministry will examine the utility’s decommissioning project structure, and judge if it is being properly implemented.
The government is looking to have the revisions enter force within the year, with TEPCO capital transfers to the NDF to commence as early as next fiscal year, which starts on April 1, 2017.
Last year, the industry ministry increased the total estimated cost for Fukushima No. 1 plant decommissioning from 2 trillion yen to 8 trillion yen, in preparation for the difficult work of removing the melted fuel from three of the power station’s reactors.
TEPCO’s annual revenues currently stand at about 400 billion yen, while reactor decommissioning alone is expected to cost some 300 billion yen per year. Nevertheless, the industry ministry believes the utility should be able to cover its obligations if it can improve its earning power through management restructuring and the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Niigata Prefecture.
However, the governor of Niigata Prefecture has been reluctant to green-light the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactors, and there is no projected schedule to bring the plant back on line. In addition, it is possible that the cost of decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 plant reactors will continue to swell.
The writing is on the wall. Ban uranium mining now: “Tepco’s termination of the contract would affect about 9.3 million pounds of uranium deliveries through 2028, worth about $1.3 billion in revenue.”
Cigar Lake, in northern Saskatchewan, Canada, is the world’s highest-grade uranium mine.
Uranium miner Cameco (TSX:CCO; NYSE:CCJ) is weighing its options after a key Japanese customer attempted to cancel its contract, which would mean $1.3 billion in lost revenue for the Canadian company.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), the operator of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, issued a termination notice for a uranium supply contract on Jan. 24 and, earlier this week, it said it would not accept a delivery that was scheduled for Feb.1.
Such contract cancellation would affect about 9.3 million pounds of uranium deliveries through 2028, including about 855,000 pounds annually in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Cameco said.
Shares collapsed on the news. They were trading down 12.5% to Cdn$14.50 in Toronto at 1:00 pm, and 13.3% down in New York to $11.06 at 1:26 pm ET.
Cameco said the Japanese power company has cited forces beyond its control — specifically government regulations arising from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident — that have prevented the operation of its nuclear plants.
The Canadian firm insisted that there’s no basis for terminating the contract and considers TEPCO to be in default. It said it will pursue its rights — including binding arbitration.
“We are surprised and disappointed that TEPCO is seeking to terminate its contract given all the past productive discussions we have had to date,” Cameco’s president and CEO Tim Gitzel said in the statement.
The company noted it has sufficient financial capacity to manage any loss of revenue in 2017 as a result of the dispute.
Including income coming from TEPCO, Cameco expects 2017 earnings will range between $2.1 billion to $2.2 billion. More information on the uranium miner’s financial position will be released next week.
The plaintiff helped build scaffolding to repair the damaged No 4 reactor at the Fukushima plant
A Japanese court has begun hearing the case of a man who developed leukaemia after working as a welder at the damaged Fukushima nuclear site.
The plaintiff, 42, is the first person to be recognised by labour authorities as having an illness linked to clean-up work at the plant.
He is suing Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the complex.
The nuclear site was hit by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, causing a triple meltdown.
It was the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. An exclusion zone remains in place around the site as thousands of workers continue clean-up efforts.
The man, from Japan’s Fukuoka prefecture, was a welder for a sub-contractor.
He spent six months working at Genkai and Fukushima No 2 nuclear plants before moving to the quake-hit Fukushima No 1 plant, where he build scaffolding for repair work at the No 4 reactor building. His cumulative radiation exposure was 19.78 millisieverts.
This is lower than official limits – Japan currently allows workers at the damaged plant to accumulate a maximum of 100 millisieverts over five years. A dose of 100 millisieverts over a year is seen as enough to raise the risk of cancer.
But in October 2015, a health ministry panel ruled that the man’s illness was workplace-related and that he was eligible for compensation.
“While the causal link between his exposure to radiation and his illness is unclear, we certified him from the standpoint of worker compensation,” a health ministry official said at the time.
There has been heated debate about the dangers of radiation from the plant
The man is now suing Tepco and the Kyushu Electric Power Company, which operated the Genkai plant, for JPY59m ($526,000, £417,000).
“I worked there [Fukushima No 1 plant] because of my ardent desire to help bring the disaster under control but I was treated as if I was a mere expendable labourer,” Kyodo news agency quoted him as saying.
“I want Tokyo Electric to thoroughly face up to its responsibility.”
When he filed the suit late last year, his lawyers said he had been “forced to undergo unnecessary radiation exposure because of the utilities’ slipshod on-site radiation management”.
Tepco and Kyushu Electric have asked the court to reject the suit, questioning the link between his radiation exposure and leukaemia, Kyodo reported.
Tens of thousands of workers have been employed at the Fukushima site since the disaster in March 2011. Late last year the government said estimates of clean-up costs had doubled to JPY21.5 trillion ($188bn, £150bn).
Ex-worker during Fukushima disaster sues Tepco, Kyushu Electric over leukemia
A former nuclear worker who developed leukemia after combating the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis demanded ¥59 million (around $524,000) in damages from two utilities Thursday at his first trial hearing at the Tokyo District Court.
The 42-year-old man from Fukuoka Prefecture is the first person to be recognized by labor authorities as having an illness linked to workplace radiation exposure since the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The man-made disaster was triggered by the huge earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
“I worked there because of my ardent desire to help bring the disaster under control but I was treated as if I was a mere expendable laborer,” the plaintiff said.
“I want Tokyo Electric to thoroughly face up to its responsibility,” he said.
The defendants, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., which runs Fukushima No. 1, and Kyushu Electric Power Co., whose Genkai nuclear plant also employed the plaintiff, asked the court to reject the claim, questioning the connection between his radiation exposure and leukemia.
The man was engaged in welding operations at the Fukushima Nos. 1 and 2 plants and the Genkai complex in Saga Prefecture from October 2011 to December 2013. His exposure in operations subcontracted by the utilities consisted of at least 19.8 millisieverts, according to his written complaint.
The man was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in January 2014 and later went into depression. Both ailments are recognized as work-related illnesses by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
He said he has been unable to go back to work and is therefore seeking compensation from the utilities.
Cameco to contest Tepco’s termination of supply contract
Cameco announced today that Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (Tepco) has issued a termination notice for a uranium supply contract with Cameco Inc that it does not accept. “Cameco Inc sees no basis for terminating the contract, considers Tepco to be in default, and will pursue all its legal rights and remedies,” the Saskatchewan, Canada-based uranium producer said.
The Japanese utility confirmed yesterday it would not accept a uranium delivery scheduled for 1 February and would not withdraw the contract termination notice it provided to Cameco on 24 January, according to Cameco’s statement. Tepco alleges that an event of ‘force majeure’ has occurred because it has been unable to operate its nuclear generating plants for 18 consecutive months due to government regulations arising from the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011.
“We are surprised and disappointed that Tepco is seeking to terminate its contract given all the past productive discussions we have had to date,” said Tim Gitzel, president and CEO of Cameco. “For the past six years we have worked in good faith with Tepco to restructure this contract, and would continue to do so if there was any basis for a commercial resolution. During the past week we tried to engage Tepco to obtain clarification given conflicting information we had received previously from them and only received confirmation of their intent to terminate the contract yesterday.”
Cameco will “vigorously pursue” remedies to recover value for its shareholders and other stakeholders, Gitzel added.
Under the contract, Tepco has already received and paid for 2.2 million pounds of uranium since 2014. The termination would affect about 9.3 million pounds of uranium deliveries through 2028, worth about $1.3 billion in revenue to Cameco, including about $126 million in each of 2017, 2018 and 2019 based on 855,000 pounds of deliveries in each of those years. In 2017, Cameco’s consolidated revenue, including the Tepco volume, is expected to range between $2.1 billion to $2.2 billion.
Cameco said it will be “moving expeditiously” to enforce its rights under the uranium supply contract to recover losses arising from Tepco’s actions.
“As with any commercial dispute, it will take some time for a resolution to be achieved, particularly if it proceeds all the way to arbitration,” Cameco said.
The company, which is scheduled to release its annual results after markets close on 9 February, said it has “sufficient financial capacity” to manage any loss of revenue in 2017 as a result of the dispute.
A spokesman for Tepco said: “We have terminated the uranium concentrate supply agreement with Cameco by giving written notice to Cameco in accordance with the terms and conditions of the agreement. We are aware that Cameco is showing their objection to our assertion of termination. However, our notice complies with the agreement and we will take appropriate action.”
Tepco scraps uranium supply contract with Canada’s Cameco
Feb 1 Canadian uranium producer Cameco Corp said on Wednesday that Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) , the operator of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, had scrapped its uranium supply contract with the company.
Shares of Cameco slid 12.2 percent to C$14.55 in early trading on Wednesday.
The company, one of the world’s largest uranium producers, said it considered Tepco’s move to terminate the contract unfair and that it would pursue legal action.
Cameco said Tepco cited a force majeure for ending the contract as it had been unable to operate its nuclear plants for 18 straight months due to Japanese regulations arising from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.
The company said it was notified of the contract termination by Tepco last week.
Tepco’s termination of the contract would affect about 9.3 million pounds of uranium deliveries through 2028, worth about C$1.3 billion ($995.41 million) in revenue to Cameco, the Saskatoon, Canada-based company said.
Cameco’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization could take a 10-15 percent hit in the near-term as a result of the Tepco dispute, said Edward Sterck, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets.
Tepco’s move comes amid a fall in demand for uranium that is largely a result of the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown, which led to shutdowns of all of Japan’s nuclear reactors.
Some reactors have since come back online, but global inventories of the radioactive metal remain high.
Cameco warned late last year that the uranium market would remain depressed until Japan’s nuclear reactors were restarted and excess supply was depleted.
Cameco also said it expected 2017 revenue of C$2.1 billion to C$2.2 billion, inclusive of Tepco’s volume, adding that it could withstand any potential loss of revenue this year from the dispute.
A new report was released by TEPCO stating that 15 workers from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have develop cancer so far : 8 cases of leukemia, 5 cases of malignant lymphoma, 2 cases of multiple myeloma.
These cancers are recognized sufficiently linked to their work at the nuclear plant and caused by their radiation exposure . Their exposure dose superior to 100 mSv or more and the period from their radiation exposure to their onset of cancer is more than 5 years. Those 15 workers eligible to receive compensation.
These counts does not include the SDF and Tokyo Fire Department workers who responded to the disaster at Fukushima daiichi on March 2011.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (9501.T) will select underwriters this month for its first bond sale since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster, people close to the deal told Thomson Reuters DealWatch.
The deal is being closely watched by Japan’s corporate bond market, which Tepco dominated before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, bringing the company to its knees.
Tepco has been gauging demand for the landmark bond offering, as once-skeptical investors become more comfortable with the utility’s outlook after the government provided more details on decommissioning and compensation costs, sources said last week.
Tepco, which is looking to sell the bond by the end of March, will hold meetings next week with several brokerages, who will make pitches to the company for a mandate to sell the bonds, said the people close to the deal, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.
A Tepco spokesman on Friday said there was no change to the utility company’s previously announced plans to sell the bond by the end of March but that he was unaware of any plans to meet brokers next week.
The utility, once Asia’s largest, was essentially nationalized after Fukushima. It has struggled to contain radiation at the site and compensate victims of the accident while preparing to decommission the crippled power station.
The meeting will discuss investor demand, the likely size of the issue, the premium over government-bond yields Tepco will need to pay and the feasibility of selling the bond by Tepco’s target date, they said.
Sources have said Tepco will likely need to pay investors about 1 percentage point above the corresponding Japanese government bonds yields. This would be a rich premium considering other electric utilities pay about a third of that spread for their debt funding.
There are, however, some potential snags to Tepco’s plans to issue by the end of March. According to one person familiar with the government’s thinking, the government wants Tepco to delay the bond sale until after April, when legal changes allowing more financial support to the utility are enacted.
Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, far right, holds talks with executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. in the Niigata prefectural government office on Jan. 5.
Niigata governor rejects restarts in 1st meet with TEPCO execs
NIIGATA–Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama met Jan. 5 with top executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) for the first time, reiterating his opposition to restarting the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.
“It will be difficult to approve the restart as long as (the causes of) the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are not verified. In the present circumstances, I cannot accept the restart,” Yoneyama told Fumio Sudo, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., and Naomi Hirose, president of the company.
It was the first time for Yoneyama to meet with TEPCO executives since he assumed the post of Niigata governor last October. The talks were held in the Niigata prefectural government office.
Yoneyama, noting that it will take several years for the Niigata prefectural government to verify the causes of the 2011 nuclear disaster, asked the TEPCO executives to provide more information and other forms of cooperation.
In response, Sudo said, “The priority is to hear voices of local residents.”
This seemed to suggest that TEPCO will not restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant as long as the Niigata governor continues to resist the move.
A council of experts of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced late last year that the costs for dealing with the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster will almost double to 21.5 trillion yen ($185 billion) from 11 trillion yen initially estimated in 2013.
To help cover the amount, TEPCO planned to restart two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa to generate 100 billion yen in annual profits. But that now looks difficult, given Yoneyama’s firm stance on the issue of restarts.
Gov. says restart of nuclear plant in Niigata to take “several years”
The restart of a nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. on the Sea of Japan coast will likely take “several years,” the governor of Niigata Prefecture said Thursday, highlighting the difficulty in concluding post-2011 nuclear disaster reviews.
The utility known as TEPCO has been seeking to reactivate the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, the world’s largest by generation capacity, as soon as possible to boost revenue, as it grapples with ballooning costs stemming from the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan’s northeast.
“There can be no discussions about a restart without reviewing” factors including the cause of the Fukushima nuclear accident and evacuation plans for residents, Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama said in his first talks with TEPCO executives since assuming office in October.
Japan governor tells Tepco bosses nuclear plant to stay shut
The governor of Japan’s Niigata prefecture reiterated his opposition to the restart of Tokyo Electric Power’s (Tepco) Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, adding it may take a few years to review the pre-conditions for restart.
During a meeting on Thursday with Tepco Chairman Fumio Sudo and President Naomi Hirose, Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, who was elected in October on his anti-nuclear platform, repeated his pledge to keep the plant shut unless a fuller explanation of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster was provided.
He also said that evacuation plans for people in Niigata in case of a nuclear accident and the health impacts that the Fukushima accident have had would need to be reviewed before discussing the nuclear plant’s restart.
The Japanese government last month nearly doubled its projections for costs related to the disaster to 21.5 trillion yen ($185 billion), increasing the pressure on Tepco to step up reform and improve its performance.
Three reactors at Tepco’s Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant melted down after a magnitude 9 earthquake struck Japan in March 2011, triggering a tsunami that devastated a swathe of Japan’s northeastern coastline and killed more than 15,000 people.
By Marco Kaltofen
Activity is 0.7 to 240 kBq/kg, surface rad to 59 uR/hr.
0.11 to 0.24 kBq/kg
ND (<0.01) to 17.1 kBq/kg
The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry is considering holding “roundtable” discussions with top executives of major power companies on measures to restructure their business ties with beleaguered Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and set up operations overseas, it has been learned.
The industry ministry wants to help pave the way for the power industry to restructure and consolidate by setting up a forum in which major utilities can exchange views on the realities of domestic and overseas markets as well as management reforms. The move will effectively have the government play mediator in the reorganization of the power industry.
The move comes after a ministry expert committee on reforming TEPCO and issues related to the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant proposed on Dec. 20 that the government play a “catalytic” role in the realignment of the power industry. In response, TEPCO plans to hash out a new management restructuring plan this month or later. The roundtable is expected to be set up around the time that TEPCO comes up with its new restructuring scheme.
One of the expert panel’s proposals is for TEPCO to establish a “consortium” with other utilities on its power transmission and nuclear power projects at an early date. The proposal is intended to facilitate the realignment and consolidation of the power industry as part of moves to rationalize TEPCO’s measures to cover the costs of dealing with the Fukushima nuclear accident. The expert panel projected that these costs would swell to 21.5 trillion yen from an earlier estimate of 11 trillion yen. The proposal also draws on TEPCO’s plan to move its thermal power business to JERA Co., a joint venture with Chubu Electric Power Co.
The industry ministry is considering plans including publicly soliciting prospective partners for TEPCO. However, major power companies remain cautious, with a senior official at one major utility saying, “Our own company’s profits will be used to deal with the nuclear accident.” The utility roundtable meeting is the industry ministry’s attempt to help resolve this and other issue. The roundtable idea is also in line with the TEPCO’s opinion that “as long as TEPCO is aiming to reorganize at a national level, we want to have an opportunity for all companies to meet and discuss things,” as a TEPCO executive said.
While domestic power demand has stagnated due to energy-saving efforts and the declining birthrate, the industry is faced with a shifting market overseas, where demand continues to rise. According to an International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast, while Japan’s domestic electricity consumption will rise only slightly from 950 billion kilowatt-hours in 2014 to 980 billion kilowatt-hours in 2030, overall global consumption will rise from 19.8 trillion kilowatt-hours to 27.9 trillion kilowatt-hours.
Through the roundtable, the industry ministry is keen to help boost utilities’ entry into overseas markets by facilitating industry rationalization to strengthen their businesses at home. However, as the power industry may not respond well to having reorganization foisted on it by the government, the ministry plans to flesh out the scheme carefully. As a senior utility official said, “It is essential to set up a contact point for private entities first and leave the matter to them thereafter.”
The Tokyo District Court has dismissed an appeal by Tepco shareholders calling for disclosure of a government panel’s records of questioning of executives over the March 2011 crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
“The decision accepted all of what the government claimed and therefore is regrettable,” the shareholders said in a statement following the ruling Tuesday. They said they would file an immediate appeal.
The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission was formed in 2011 to investigate the causes of the nuclear disaster by questioning executives of the utility, now called Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., including Tsunehisa Katsumata, former chairman of the utility, and others.
The questioning was conducted on condition that it would not be used to assign blame.
Only the records of the interviews of those who agreed that their answers would be made public have been disclosed, including Masao Yoshida, the late former chief of Fukushima No. 1.
The shareholders are seeking disclosure of the records on 11 Tepco officials and three officials of the now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
“If the records are disclosed, it would be extremely difficult to gain cooperation from related parties in future investigations,” presiding Judge Akihiko Otake said, deciding that the disclosure could disrupt the execution of official duties.
The court also concluded that the undisclosed portion of the records that was not revealed in previous disclosures should be kept confidential.
Initially, the records of questioning of some 770 Tepco and government officials in 2011 and 2012 were all kept under wraps. But following media reports on the Yoshida interview, the government decided to change its policy and disclose them with interviewees’ consent.
Since September 2014, the government has disclosed the records of some 240 interviewees.
A shuttle bus takes workers in deep sleep from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to J-Village, where their temporary dormitories are located.
A shuttle bus takes workers in deep sleep from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to J-Village, where their temporary dormitories are located. (Shigeta Kodama)
NARAHA, Fukushima Prefecture–Despite the predawn hour, few people are sleeping on a bus that steadily makes its way north on National Route 6.
Some passengers are planning for the work ahead. One is looking forward to chatting with his colleagues. And a few wonder if today will be the day when their annual radiation doses reach the safety limit.
Every day, buses like this take 6,000 workers to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. And every day, the same buses take the exhausted and mostly sleeping workers back to their base at the Japan Football Village (J-Village) in Naraha.
Although the Fukushima plant is still decades away from being decommissioned, without this daily routine of the workers who toil amid an invisible danger, the situation at the site would be much more difficult.
407 DAILY BUS RIDES
One of them, the 49-year-old leader of a group of metal workers from Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, has been working at nuclear plants, including the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power station in Niigata Prefecture, for nearly 20 years.
He was at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant when the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered the triple meltdown there in March 2011.
“Nobody can get close to the area where the melted nuclear fuel remains due to high radiation doses,” the man said. “Even if we could approach the area, we would have no way out if something happens. The situation is harsh.”
Those metal workers install tanks for the contaminated water that keeps accumulating at the plant.
Although there are plenty of empty seats, the young workers sit in front and the older workers take the back seats.
Thousands of workers are staying at temporary dormitories set up in J-Village, a soccer training complex.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., operator of the nuclear plant, hired a local bus company to transport the workers to the plant because securing parking areas near the site has been difficult since the 2011 disaster.
The company provides 407 services a day to and from the plant. Each trip takes about 30 minutes.
The first shuttle bus departs from J-Village at 3:30 a.m., while the last bus leaves the Fukushima plant at 9:45 p.m.
In mid-November amid torrential rain, one bus picked up a man taking shelter under the eaves of a bus stop.
He said he is in charge of managing data related to radiation doses of fittings and other equipment at the plant.
“We have many different types of work here,” the man proudly said.
Also on the way to the nuclear plant, a 53-year-old employee of a security company was thinking about personnel distribution.
Like other workers there, security guards must be replaced when their annual radiation doses reach a certain level set by the government.
He said he has difficulties making ends meet with a limited number of guards who have knowledge about radiation.
Suddenly, the man’s cellphone rings, and the caller orders the deployment of additional security guards to the plant.
A 52-year-old TEPCO employee was on the way to the nearby Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant to provide a safety training program for workers, many of whom are victims of the triple disaster.
“I want to convey to workers how precious their lives are and how important safety is in a way that doesn’t make me sound hypocritical,” the employee said.
The triple meltdown has been called a “man-made disaster” caused by the failure of both TEPCO’s management and the government’s regulatory authorities.
The TEPCO employee will use props, such as a ladder, and pretend to be a worker to explain dangerous cases at the No. 1 plant.
On the trip back to J-Village, a different atmosphere exists on the bus.
Although dazzling sunlight shines through the windows and stunning views of the ocean are available, most of the workers are fast asleep in their wrinkled uniforms.
“Few people stay awake. I don’t even switch on the radio. They must be tired after their work,” said Nobuyuki Kimura, 52, who has driven the shuttle bus for one-and-a-half years.
In Kimura’s bus that departed the plant at 2:30 p.m., all 50 seats and some of the auxiliary seats were filled. The few passengers who stayed awake remained quiet.
By early evening, fewer workers boarded the bus at the plant.
Window seats at the back of the bus are desirable on all rides because they have an enough room for the seats to recline, allowing passengers to cross their legs.
A 21-year-old worker from Iwaki went for a window seat at the back after standing at the front of a line waiting for the bus.
“I can relax sitting here. This is the premium seat,” said the man who collects waste materials, such as boots and socks, at the site.
Although he works in protective gear in an area with high radiation levels, he said he has never thought about quitting his job.
He said he became fed up with school as a junior high school student, and did not bother going to senior high school.
At the age of 18, he joined his current company, and his first assignment was at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
“I became acquaintances with more and more people. It’s fun to speak with people at work,” he said.
Through his work at the nuclear plant, his weight has dropped from 115 kilograms to 93 kg.
Thirty to 40 years are needed to decommission the Fukushima No. 1 plant, according to the mid- and-long-term roadmap compiled by the government and TEPCO.
To reduce the groundwater flowing into the buildings housing the No. 1 to No. 4 reactors, TEPCO installed coolant pipes this year to create an underground frozen soil wall to divert the water into the ocean.
TEPCO announced in October that the ice wall on the sea side was nearly frozen, but groundwater is believed to be seeping through it.
The utility plans to start removing spent fuel from the No. 3 reactor building in fiscal 2017. It also has plans to begin the daunting task of removing the melted fuel from the No. 1 to No. 3 reactor containment vessels in 2021.
However, extremely high radiation levels have prevented workers from approaching and understanding the condition of the melted fuel. The removal method has yet to be decided.
The estimated cost of work for decommissioning and dealing with the contaminated water has ballooned to 8 trillion yen ($68.1 billion).
Tepco worker’s thyroid cancer is recognized as a work-related
Japanese labor authorities have recognized the thyroid cancer of a man who worked at Tepco’s stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant as a work-related, it was learned Friday.
It is the first time that thyroid cancer has been recognized as a work-related illness caused by radiation from the plant after it was damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
This is the third case labor authorities have linked to radiation exposure for workers at the Fukushima plant. The two previous cases involved leukemia.
At a meeting Friday, a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry panel of experts presented for the first time criteria for recognizing thyroid cancer as a work-related disease from radiation, including doses of 100 millisieverts or more and a period of five years or more between exposure to radiation and the development of cancer.
Based on the criteria, a labor standards office in Fukushima Prefecture concluded that the cancer of the employee, who is in his 40s, was caused by radiation from the plant.
The man joined Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. in 1992 and worked at several nuclear power plants for over 20 years.
After checking reactor instruments and carrying out other duties at the Fukushima No. 1 plant from March 2011 to April 2012, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in April 2014. His cumulative radiation dose after the accident stood at 139.12 millisieverts.
According to the International Commission on Radiological Protection, lifetime cancer mortality rises by about 0.5 percent for those exposed to a dose of 100 millisieverts.
Thyroid cancer compensation for Fukushima plant worker
A man who developed thyroid gland cancer after working at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has for the first time won the right to work-related compensation.
While the case ranks as the third time a worker at the Fukushima plant has been recognized as eligible for work-related compensation because of cancer caused by radiation exposure, it is the first instance involving thyroid gland cancer.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced its decision Dec. 16.
The man in his 40s, an employee of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., worked at the Fukushima plant after the triple meltdown triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. He was diagnosed with thyroid gland cancer in April 2014.
The man worked at various nuclear plants, including the Fukushima facility, between 1992 and 2012. He was mainly involved in operating and overseeing reactor operations.
After the March 2011 nuclear accident, the man was in the plant complex when hydrogen explosions rocked the No. 1 and No. 3 reactor buildings. His duties included confirming water and pressure meter levels as well as providing fuel to water pumps.
The amount of his accumulated whole body radiation exposure was 150 millisieverts, with about 140 millisieverts resulting from the period after the nuclear accident. Of that amount, about 40 millisieverts was through internal exposure caused by inhaling or other ways of absorbing radioactive materials.
Along with recognizing the first work-related compensation involving thyroid gland cancer, the labor ministry also released for the first time its overall position on dealing with compensation issues for workers who were at the Fukushima plant after the accident.
The ministry said it would recognize compensation for workers whose accumulated whole body dose exceeded 100 millisieverts and for whom at least five years have passed since the start of work involving radiation exposure and the diagnosis of cancer.
Ministry officials said the dose level was not a strict standard but one yardstick for recognizing compensation.
According to a study by TEPCO and a U.N. scientific committee looking into the effects of radiation, 174 people who worked at the plant had accumulated whole body doses exceeding 100 millisieverts as of this past March.
There is also an estimate that more than 2,000 workers have radiation doses exceeding 100 millisieverts just in their thyroid gland.
First thyroid cancer case in Japan recognized as Fukushima-related & compensated by govt
A man who worked at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan during the disastrous 2011 meltdown has had his thyroid cancer recognized as work-related. The case prompted the government to finally determine its position on post-disaster compensation.
The unnamed man, said to be in his 40s, worked at several nuclear power plants between 1992 and 2012 as an employee of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. He was present at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant during the March 11, 2011 meltdown. Three years after the disaster, he was diagnosed with thyroid gland cancer, which the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare confirmed on Friday as stemming from exposure to radiation.
The man’s body radiation exposure was totaled at 150 millisieverts, almost 140 of which were a result of the accident. Although this is not the first time that health authorities have linked cancer to radiation exposure for workers at the Fukushima plant, it is the first time a patient with thyroid cancer has won the right to work-related compensation.
There have been two cases previously, both of them involving leukemia.
The recent case prompted Japan’s health and labor ministry to release for the first time its overall position on dealing with compensation issues for workers who were at the Fukushima plant at the time and after the accident. Workers who had been exposed to over 100 millisieverts and developed cancer five years or more after exposure were entitled to compensation, the ministry ruled this week. The dose level was not a strict standard but rather a yardstick, the officials added.
As of March, 174 people who worked at the plant had been exposed to over 100 millisieverts worth of radiation, according to a joint study by the UN and the Tokyo Electric Power Company. There is also an estimate that more than 2,000 workers have radiation doses exceeding 100 millisieverts just in their thyroid gland, Japanese newspaper the Asahi Shimbun reported.
The 2011 accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant was the worst of its kind since the infamous 1986 catastrophe in Chernobyl, Ukraine. After the Tohoku earthquake in eastern Japan and the subsequent tsunami, the cooling system of one of the reactors stopped working, causing a meltdown. Nearly half a million people were evacuated and a 20-kilometer exclusion zone was set up.
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