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Japan to deploy large patrol boats to guard nuclear plants

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July 22, 2018
TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Japan Coast Guard will deploy two large patrol vessels to areas of the Sea of Japan to reinforce protection of nuclear power plants against terrorism, sources familiar with the matter said Saturday.
Two new 1,500-ton vessels with helipads will be deployed between fiscal 2019 and 2020 to the coast guard’s Tsuruga office in Fukui Prefecture where several nuclear plants are located, according to the sources.
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Patrol boats of similar size, each costing about 6 billion yen ($54 million), will be introduced in other parts of the country in the future, they said.
The government is moving to strengthen counterterrorism measures in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, in line with an agreement in February with the International Atomic Energy Agency to bolster Japan’s capacity to respond to nuclear terrorism.
The coast guard expects the new ships will also enhance its ability to respond to North Korean boats engaged in illegal fishing, and to unidentified ships sighted off the central Japan coast, the sources said.
The new ships could also be used to respond to emergency situations at nuclear plants in other areas, and crew will receive special training in dealing with radioactive substances, they said.
An additional 60 to 80 coast guard crew will be posted at the Tsuruga office, nearly doubling the personnel there.
The Tsuruga office belongs to the 8th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters, which is responsible for patrolling waters along a 2,000-kilometer stretch of Japan’s central and western coasts. That office operates three patrol boats, the largest being the 350-ton Echizen.
To better deal with China’s growing maritime assertiveness, Japan has allocated an initial budget of a record 211.2 billion yen to the Japan Coast Guard for fiscal 2018.
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July 23, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , , | 1 Comment

Fukui weighs new wave of reactors to protect status as Japan’s ‘nuclear capital’

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Fukui Prefecture’s days as the center of Japan’s nuclear power industry might be fading with five reactors scheduled for decommissioning. These include the No. 1 (front) and No. 2 units at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi plant in Fukui, shown in this January 2017 photo.
OSAKA – With 13 commercial nuclear reactors — more than any other prefecture — Fukui has long been Japan’s nuclear power capital. Prior to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, Fukui’s plants provided up to half of Kansai’s electricity.
As only two commercial reactors run by Kansai Electric Power Co. are in operation and a total of five Fukui reactors are scheduled to be decommissioned by midcentury, the prefecture’s days as a nuclear power center might appear to be ending. But despite the growing use of renewables, entrenched public opposition to atomic power, and unanswered questions about its future costs and economic competitiveness, Fukui’s nuclear-friendly utility executives and corporate leaders, as well as local politicians, have not given up on the idea of building even more reactors.
Earlier this month, Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa met with Kepco President Shigeki Iwane and Mamoru Muramatsu, the president of Japan Atomic Power Co., which runs two reactors at the Tsuruga plant in Fukui — including one scheduled for decommissioning.
They discussed building new reactors at Tsuruga — which have long been planned — and replacing Kepco’s decommissioned reactors with new ones. The meeting took place amid a review of the nation’s energy mix.
“What needs to be done by midcentury? We need to make this clear in the nation’s energy plans as we look to 2050,” Iwane said at a news conference afterward.
A couple of weeks later, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko told reporters that even without building new reactors or replacing old ones, Japan could meet its national goal of having atomic power provide between 20 and 22 percent of all electricity by 2030.
Nishikawa, traditionally a staunch supporter of nuclear power plants and the subsidies his prefecture receives for hosting them, has so far avoided coming out directly in favor of building new reactors.
He told reporters at the end of 2017 that he wasn’t going to wade into the debate of whether it was a good or bad idea. Instead, he said he was waiting for the central government’s view.
“The government needs to make clear what its stance is on new reactors. The main problem is gaining social trust for the use of nuclear power,” Nishikawa said.
That could be difficult. A survey by the Fukui Shimbun in October showed that 49.8 percent of respondents favored slowly exiting from nuclear power. Gaining national and local approval to build new reactors could take years.
Yet even if construction of new Tsuruga reactors goes ahead, it will likely be years, possibly decades, before they are completed at an unknown cost. In the interim, the use of renewables is expected to expand even more. Furthermore, as Japan’s population declines and uses more innovative energy-efficient products, predicting electricity needs in 10 — let alone 30 or so — years from now is problematic at best.
Adding reactors in Fukui will certainly increase the electricity supply for Kansai. But what pro-nuclear politicians and businesses in Fukui want now is assurances from Tokyo that they will still financially benefit from new reactors even if their output may not be needed or wanted by consumers.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

10 Tsuruga nuke plant workers doused with radioactive coolant water

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FUKUI – Japan Atomic Power Co. has revealed that 10 workers were doused in radioactive coolant water during maintenance work in an auxiliary building for reactor 2 at the Tsuruga nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture.

The 10 employees were not exposed to radiation, the company said on Wednesday.

Up to 160 liters of room-temperature coolant water containing 272,000 becquerels of radioactive substances was spilled — about one-tenth of the level that must be reported to the government, Japan Atomic Power said, adding that the amount of the hazardous materials was “not small.”

Water from a pipe sprayed into a tank room on the second basement floor of the auxiliary building around 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, when a worker loosened a bolt on a valve from a pipe attached to a coolant storage tank, according to Japan Atomic Power.

Of the 15 workers from a subcontracting company who were in the room, four were soaked from head to toe, while six were partially soaked. The water splashed directly onto the faces of some of the workers, according to Japan Atomic Power.

When the water poured in, the workers, wearing jumpsuits, helmets, gloves and goggles, were trying to drain the pipe to allow the valve to be checked and to exchange a rubber part in a tank that temporarily stores coolant water while operations at the plant are halted.

Japan Atomic Power said there was more water in the pipe than had been anticipated.

In November last year, Japan Atomic Power applied to the Nuclear Regulation Authority for safety checks on the Tsuruga reactor. An NRA screening is required before the nuclear reactor is reactivated.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/01/national/science-health/10-tsuruga-nuke-plant-workers-doused-radioactive-coolant-water-operator-rules-exposure/#.WEAnOVzia-c

December 2, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Radioactive water splashes Japan reactor workers; no injuries, no contamination. So they say as usual

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Japan Atomic Power Co said on Wednesday water used for cooling its Tsuruga No.2 reactor, shut for maintenance, splashed on 10 employees at work inside an auxiliary plant building without causing injuries or radioactive contamination.

The electricity wholesaler said about 160 liters of water spilled, splashing the workwear of staff conducting inspections on Wednesday. The company said there was no leak of radiation to the surrounding environment.

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The incident was reported two days after utility Tohoku Electric Power Co said about 12.5 tonnes of seawater used for cooling pumps and motors inside its Onagawa No.1 reactor building had leaked. The Onagawa reactor is also shut for maintenance.

The utility said in a statement the seawater contained no radioactive material and had not leaked to the outside environment.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-nuclear-water-idUSKBN13P0TS

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