Japan’s Kyushu Elec likely to delay nuclear plant restart due to Kobe Steel checks

genkai npp
* Delay would be another hitch in reboot of Japan’s nuclear sector
* Kyushu spokesman says firm has not yet changed restart schedule
* Kobe steel has been reeling from data-falsification scandal
TOKYO, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Japan’s Kyushu Electric Power Co will likely delay the restart of a nuclear plant by several months as it makes checks related to the data-fabrication scandal that has engulfed Kobe Steel Ltd , the Nikkei newspaper reported on Wednesday.
A delay would be a further hitch in the protracted reboot of Japan’s nuclear sector, which was shut down in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011. The government and industry want reactors restarted to cut electricity bills, but swathes of the public oppose returning to atomic energy.
Four reactors are operating out of 42 commercially viable units, and Kyushu Electric has been planning to restart two of its reactors at its Genkai plant in southern Japan by next March.
A Kyushu Electric spokesman on Wednesday told Reuters that the firm had not yet changed the schedule for the Genkai restart, but added that the utility had told the country’s atomic regulator in mid-November that checks on the use of Kobe Steel products would take about a month.
A delay would mark the first direct impact on reactor restarts from the Kobe Steel scandal, raising worries over similar delays in restarts at other nuclear plants, the Nikkei said. The paper cited a senior company official as the source for its information on the possible delay in the Kyushu restart.
Japan’s third-largest steelmaker, which supplies producers of cars, planes, trains and other products across the world, said in October that about 500 of its customers had received products with falsified specifications. The company is also a supplier to the nuclear industry, providing casings for uranium fuel rods and for spent fuel cooling units.
The No.3 and No.4 reactors at Genkai plant in southern Japan have met the regulator’s safety requirements imposed after the Fukushima disaster, and the company had been aiming to restart the No.3 reactor in January and No.4 unit in March.
Checks by nuclear operators have so far found that some Kobe Steel parts are used at their nuclear plants, but that there are no safety issues as the supplied products were not made at factories that engaged in fabrication.
Checks are continuing and utilities are prioritising operating units and those in final stages before restart.
Kansai Electric Power is planning to restart two units at its Ohi plant west of Tokyo by March and is making checks to see whether they have parts supplied by Kobe Steel that have falsified data.
Read also related:
Kobe Steel scandal: ‘look the other way’ culture of corporate Japan, faked data for over a decade https://dunrenard.wordpress.com/2017/11/30/kobe-steel-scandal-look-the-other-way-culture-of-corporate-japan-faked-data-for-over-a-decade/
Advertisements

Kobe Steel scandal: ‘look the other way’ culture of corporate Japan, faked data for over a decade

hjkmù.jpg
The Kobe Steel scandal: What we know so far
It’s the latest big scandal to rock corporate Japan.
Kobe Steel (KBSTY), a century-old industrial giant, has admitted to falsifying data on products sold to top customers like Boeing (BA) and Toyota (TM).
It says as many as 500 companies could be affected, including manufacturers of Japan’s famous bullet trains.
Here’s the lowdown on the crisis that’s rippling through major industries around the globe:
What happened?
Essentially, Kobe employees faked reports to make it look as though products met the specifications requested by customers when in fact they didn’t.
The scandal initially concerned copper and aluminum parts, but has spread to steel products, too. It has raised doubts about thousands of tons of material shipped over a period of more than 10 years.
For the aluminum and copper parts, false data was given about their strength and durability.
Which industries?
Kobe steel sells metal to all kinds of different businesses. Some of the main industries to which it has supplied the suspect products include aviation, automobiles, railways and nuclear power.
Who’s affected?
In the aerospace industry, Boeing and Japan’s Mitsubishi (MHVYF) both used Kobe parts made with falsified data in their aircraft. But the two companies insisted they don’t believe the parts present a safety concern.
Japanese automakers Toyota (TM), Honda (HMC) and Nissan (NSANF) acknowledged they had used affected Kobe materials but were still assessing the consequences for their vehicles.
Ford (F) has said it found aluminum parts in the hood of its Mondeo model in China, but can’t confirm if they were sourced during the affected period.
Other big companies — including GM (GM), Mazda (MZDAF) and plane-maker Airbus (EADSF) — said they haven’t found any suspect parts so far but are combing their supply chains regardless.
The future of Kobe Steel is unclear, but it looks bleak right now. Its stock has nosedived 40% since the revelations first emerged.
Some analysts have warned the company could go bust, and others have suggested it could be broken up and sold off to rivals.
Kobe hasn’t put a number on the likely size of the financial hit from the scandal. The firm’s CEO has said it will bear the costs of any product recalls by its customers. He is also leading an internal probe into what happened.
Doesn’t this sound familiar?
Japan Inc has amassed a growing pile of embarrassing scandals in recent years.
They include Takata’s deadly airbags, Mitsubishi Motors’ fudged fuel-efficiency tests and Toshiba’s damaging debacles over its accounting and nuclear power business.
Japan’s Kobe Steel May Have Faked Data for Over a Decade
Kobe Steel Ltd. said it will co-operate with the U.S. Department of Justice after the agency requested documents related to the fake data scandal that risks engulfing Japan’s third-biggest steelmaker.
Kobe has said some 500 companies worldwide are in a supply chain tainted by admissions that it falsified certifications on the strength and durability of metals going back to 2007, including automotive giants Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. and the U.S.’s biggest plane maker, Boeing Co. The besieged Japanese company said in a statement it can’t yet quantify the impact of the crisis on its earnings.
The DOJ’s involvement means the company is “going to have to go overboard to be cleaner than clean,” said Alexander Medd, managing director of Bucephalus Research Partnership Ltd. in Hong Kong. “This is going to require a complete mental shift and rebuilding of trust.” Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has also asked the company for a report on the scandal including causes and remedies.
Kobe’s global review of its units will probably reveal that data falsification began even longer than 10 years ago, according to a company executive, asking not to be named as the information isn’t public. The Nikkei newspaper reported Tuesday that irregularities over quality control at Kobe’s plants in Japan date back decades, citing a person it didn’t identify.
As the steelmaker works to contain the fallout, it has briefed analysts that short-term liquidity isn’t an issue as it seeks to generate cash including via asset sales.
Kobe Steel is also considering the sale of its real estate unit, the executive said. Jefferies Japan Ltd. analyst Thanh Ha Pham said that, while the company has enough cash and funding to cover short-term needs, it’s looking to raise money by lowering working capital and through asset sales, according to a note that followed a briefing with Kobe’s management on Monday.
Last week saw Kobe’s stock collapse 41 percent as investors rushed to punish the latest instance of corporate malfeasance in Japan, following similar misconduct around data at companies such as Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Asahi Kasei Corp. It has since pared those losses, closing 3.1 percent higher in Tokyo on Tuesday for a two-day gain of 6 percent.
Kobe Steel could face losses of as much as 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion) in a worst-case scenario arising from its misconduct, according to Nomura Securities Co., while Japan Credit Rating Agency has placed the company’s A rating on watch for a possible downgrade.
A QuickTake Q&A explainer on the Kobel Steel data scandal
Nomura’s tally assumes customers would be forced to recall products and then have Kobe assume the cost, and that it will have to pay compensation, including to investors, credit analyst Shintaro Niimura said in a report Monday. The bank estimates that about 30 percent of Kobe’s aluminum and copper, two of the metals subject to data falsification, is bought by automakers.
Capital Adequacy
Still, with about 700 billion yen in capital, the worst case would only put a dent in Kobe’s capital-adequacy ratio, which would fall from 30 percent to 23 percent, according to Niimura. He cautioned that losses could widen if evidence comes to light that the scandal has affected more products than reported so far by Kobe, which on Friday added another nine to the list, including core steel products, to make 16.
The units implicated in the crisis make the steel, copper, aluminum and other materials that account for over half the company’s revenue.
Kobe’s property unit, Shinko Real Estate Co., had fixed assets of 89.9 billion yen, according to a March filing. The company is considering a number of sales options for the business, which leases and sells real estate, including a full divestment, according to the executive, although he said the sale isn’t linked to the company’s wider problems.
None of Kobe’s customers has so far raised specific safety concerns or recalled products. Jefferies’ Pham cited management as saying that customer feedback, including from beverage can producers and railway companies, is that no immediate recalls are required and products involved are not a safety concern.
Some of Japan’s biggest automakers — Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Subaru Corp. — are investigating whether any car parts contain falsified materials from Kobe, according to company spokespeople. Toyota supplier Denso Corp. is also checking its products, while Tokyo Metro Co. and Seibu Railway Co. are investigating if Kobe’s aluminum parts are used in their trains.
Kobe Steel declined to comment on the details of the analyst meeting on Monday. A spokeswoman said it’s investigating past records to determine the cause of the falsifications.
Scandal-hit Kobe Steel has a ‘look the other way’ culture, they say in hometown
KOBE, Japan (Reuters) – The fresh university graduate, eager to make a good impression on the job at one of Kobe Steel Ltd’s (5406.T) main plants in Japan, punched the wrong measurements into machines making steel pipes, causing a large batch to come out too short.
“I thought I was going to be fired,” recalled the former employee nearly 40 years later. But Shinzo Abe, now Japan’s prime minister, stayed on the job at Japan’s third-largest steelmaker for three years before entering politics in 1982.
Abe has called the steel industry the backbone of the nation. Kobe Steel, a 112-year-old company in south-central Japan’s Hyogo prefecture, has risen from wartime devastation and natural disaster but its past is littered with examples of corporate misconduct.
Its admission last month that workers had tampered with product specifications for at least a decade is the latest in a string of scandals that has battered Japan’s reputation as a manufacturing powerhouse.
Clients around the world, including top carmakers and airplane manufacturers, have been scrambling to check whether the safety or performance of their products have been compromised.
Workers, executives and shopowners in Kobe, a gritty, industrial city bordered by sloping hills where cattle are bred for the famed Kobe beef, said they were concerned but not surprised by the scandal.
Kobe Steel, which has apologized for the tampering, declined comment for this article.
“The corporate culture was to look the other way even while you saw what was going on,” said a retired employee who worked at the company’s flagship steel plant, Kobe Works – a symbol of the city’s quick recovery from a 1995 earthquake that killed more than 5,000 people. The company’s other main plant in the area is Kakogawa Works, in the nearby city of Kakogawa.
“They were supposed to be instilling a culture that paid attention when improprieties were discovered,” the former employee said. “In the end they didn’t create such a corporate culture. That’s management’s responsibility.”
The company initially said some workers had falsified data on contract specifications for a relatively small amount of aluminum and copper products, but it later admitted the problem had spread.
In 2006, Kobe Steel admitted falsifying soot-emissions data from the blast furnaces at Kobe Works and Kakogawa Works.
The latest scandal reflects “exactly the same set-up”, said Shoichi Tarumoto, who was then mayor of Kakogawa. “It looks like nothing has changed at Kobe Steel.”
PAST PROBLEMS
Kobe Steel has admitted taking part in bid-rigging for a bridge project in 2005, and failing to report income to tax authorities in 2008, 2011 and 2013. The company exceeded established limits for ground and water pollution in 2006.
Illegal political funding to candidates in local assembly elections in 2009 prompted the resignations of the then CEO and chairman. And last year Kobe Steel admitted a subsidiary falsified data on stainless-steel products.
A senior official in local government who has dealt with the company for years said: “Kobe Steel always scouts the backstreets for shortcuts. That’s their nature.”
Although its local dominance has waned, Kobe Steel remains one of only two Kobe-based companies, along with Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd (7012.T), that have revenues over 1 trillion yen ($9 billion) a year. The Kakogawa Works is that city’s biggest company, vital as a local taxpayer and employer.
More than a third of the Kobe Steel group’s 6,123 domestic customers are concentrated in Hyogo or neighboring Osaka, according to credit-research firm Teikoku Databank. More than half its customers are small and midsize Japanese companies.
The other clients are spread around the world and include top automobile manufacturers, airplane makers, railways and nearly any industry that uses steel, aluminum or copper in any form.
No safety issues have been found so far because of the tampering, but Kobe Steel has withdrawn its forecast for its first annual profit in three years. Whatever the eventual economic impact, the scandal is already affecting morale in Kobe city.
“If Kobe Steel suffers a blow, this is the area that will be most affected,” said Tsuyoshi Matsuda of Teikoku Databank’s Kobe office.
Kobe Steel acknowledges some customers have shifted orders to other suppliers. Major banks are instructing their Kobe area branches to keep close watch on the credit management at companies that do business with the steelmaker, bankers say.
“HEAVY MOOD”
The scandal “isn’t an open topic on the job,” said a worker in his 30s, finishing the night shift around 8 a.m. at Kobe Works, a hulking jumble of rusting pipes, risers and tanks.
“Nobody says it out loud, but I think people are worried,” he said. “It’s a heavy mood.”
Shinzaike, the local train station closest to Kobe Works, is home to several bar-restaurants that count the company’s employees among their best customers. Since the latest scandal erupted, business has dried up, traders said.
“Looks like they’re holding back from going drinking,” said a pub owner.
Reservations for year-end parties would normally be starting now, but there haven’t been any yet, he added.
Abe, who worked at both the Kobe and Kakogawa works, has called his years at Kobe Steel “the starting point of my adult life.”
Last year, according to media reports, he urged young people entering the workforce to follow his example of learning from mistakes at Kobe Steel.
“I got through it without incident,” he said. “I want you not to be discouraged by a few mistakes but rather do the best you can.”
Kobe Steel blames data scandal on focus on profit, lack of controls
TOKYO (Reuters) – Kobe Steel Ltd said on Friday a lack of quality controls and a focus on profits was behind the widespread data tampering that has shaken up the supply chains of car and plane makers around the world.
Japan’s third-largest steelmaker, which has posted losses in the last two business years, promised to automate more of its operations and reorganize its quality control systems to recover from one of the nation’s biggest corporate scandals.
The 112-year-old company admitted last month that workers had tampered with product specifications, causing global automakers, aircraft manufacturers and other companies to check whether the safety or performance of their products had been compromised.
No safety issues have so far been identified from the data cheating, which mainly involves falsely certifying the strength and durability of products.
Kobe Steel was ordered last month by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to provide a detailed explanation of the data cheating and say what steps it would take to prevent future abuses.
“Improving our management and corporate governance and instilling a culture where employees can say anything are imperative,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Hiroya Kawasaki said at a press briefing after submitting its report to the government. “This is my utmost priority and I will work on these with unflagging resolve,” he said.
Kawasaki said his “ultimate management responsibility” will be decided after recently appointed outside investigators report back to the company.
“Given the magnitude of the scandal, we expect upper management to get the boot,” Thanh Ha Pham, an analyst at Jefferies in Tokyo, wrote in a note on Friday, without saying when that might happen.
Multiple workers and managers at nine production sites were involved in tampering data on specifications of products, the company said in its internal report.
Some of the fabrication of data went on for 10 years, Managing Executive Officer Koji Yamamoto said, though he could not say when exactly it started.
The company is in talks with fewer than 10 customers who want to recover the costs of safety inspections, Managing Executive Officer Yoshihiko Katsukawa said.
“Clarifying your company’s thinking on the causes of this incident is a meaningful step towards restoring trust,” Akihiro Tada, director general of METI’s manufacturing industries bureau, told Kawasaki as he arrived to deliver the report.
Kobe Steel, also subject of a U.S. Justice Department inquiry as well, has had a Japanese government-sanctioned seal of quality revoked on some of its products and lost customers.
As of Friday, the company said 474 out of 525 affected customers found no safety issues or their products were deemed safe by Kobe Steel, up from 470 earlier this week.
The company has said it cannot yet fully state what impact the tampering will have on its finances. Last week, it pulled its forecast for its first annual profit in three years for the 12 months through next March.
Kobe Steel’s shares have fallen by nearly a fifth since it revealed the data fabrication a month ago.
The company’s shares rose nearly 2 percent on Friday, while the Nikkei 225 fell 0.8 percent.
Kobe Steel Blames Plant Managers for Quality Control Scandal
TOKYO — When a roll of aluminum produced at a Kobe Steel factory fell short of customers’ exacting demands for qualities like strength, plant managers were supposed to make a painful but necessary decision: Start again and make a new, better roll of metal, even if it cost the company time and money.
But for at least a decade, according to an internal company report released on Friday, those managers took an easier way out, manipulating test data on some products to avoid expensive do-overs.
The report by the Japanese steel maker is its first public accounting of the causes of a data falsification scandal that has shaken the company and prompted around 500 of its customers around the world — including manufacturers of cars, trains and aircraft — to scramble to verify their products’ safety.
The report, produced by Kobe Steel without input from regulators or other outside parties, concluded that the company had erred by elevating the pursuit of short-term profit over the maintenance of scrupulous quality standards. That failing, it said, was exacerbated by lax oversight by senior executives and an “insular” corporate culture that discouraged employees from questioning improper but long-established practices.
“There was a climate where employees on the ground couldn’t speak up. Even if they did speak up, it wouldn’t make a difference,” Kobe Steel’s chief executive, Hiroya Kawasaki, said at a news conference. “As long as the revenue was coming in, management wasn’t interested.”
Mr. Kawasaki said that the practice of misrepresenting not-quite-perfect metals was at least a decade old but that, because records going back further than that were incomplete, it might have been going on longer.
A second report on the scandal, by a commission of outside experts, will be completed by the end of December, he said.
In a series of announcements beginning last month that have rattled corporate Japan, Kobe Steel acknowledged faking data about the quality of aluminum, copper and other products to make it appear as though they met standards promised to customers when in fact they did not.
The metals still met basic safety requirements, according to the company and customers who have reviewed their purchases from Kobe Steel. Nonetheless, the episode has reverberated through global supply chains and dealt a fresh blow to Japan’s reputation for scrupulous, dependable manufacturing.
The report published on Friday outlined several changes the company plans to make to prevent cheating, including automating record keeping for product tests and requiring multiple employees to verify that test results are accurate.
The report faulted what it said was Kobe Steel’s excessively segmented structure, saying that the company’s seven separate divisions — which produce products ranging from aluminum used by automakers to steel for the construction industry — had become insulated fiefs where problems could fester.
Top managers escaped direct blame for the scandal: The report said there was no evidence that they were aware of the data falsification, though it criticized executives for setting unreasonable production targets and then failing to scrutinize how subordinates met them, or at least appeared to meet them.
“The fact that management did not grasp what was happening on the front lines is in itself a major problem,” it said.
Kobe Steel quality scandal driven by pursuit of profits and demanding corporate culture
Scandal-hit Kobe Steel’s troubles were driven by a relentless focus on profits and the company’s regimented corporate culture, which led to more than decade of faked quality guarantees on its products.
Japan’s third largest steel-maker said it “sincerely and deeply apologised for the enormous amount of worry and trouble we have caused” as the findings of an investigation into its problems emerged.
A 27-page document detailing what went inside Kobe – which has been loss-making for the two years – said failed quality controls were behind testing data being altered.
The report said that “a severe management environment” with demanding profit targets had contributed to the scandal.
The investigation into the issues which affected more than 500 customers – including those in the aerospace, transport and nuclear industries – was ordered by Japanese government.
Customers of Kobe included Toyota and Nissan, along with international clients such as Boeing, General Motors and Daimler. The scandal – which affects aluminium, copper and steel products – has sent Kobe’s customers racing to check components acquired from the company, though no safety problems have yet been identified.
In the wake of the report, Kobe has promised to transform itself with more automation and better quality controls.
In an update on checks into the affected products on Friday, Kobe said 474 of the 525 affected customers had not identified problems or Kobe had satisfied itself the products were safe.
News of the scandal saw shares in Kobe plunge as much as 40pc and Hiroya Kawasaki, president of Kobe, admitted that “trust in our company has fallen to zero”.
Customers have been deserting the business, causing Kobe to scrap financial forecasts. Naoto Umehara, executive vice-president, signalled the scandal could kill the company, warning Kobe “may incur extraordinary losses”.
Reports of the malfeasance at Kobe is just the latest of a string of scandals that have rocked corporate Japan, with companies including Nissan, Toshiba and Olympus also having been revealed to have suffered huge issues.

A Call for Working Together to Enact the Chernobyl Law in Japan

By Masami Ueno (Director of Fukushima-Iseshima Association)
 
Fukushima-Isehima Association is a Non-Profit Organization located in Mie Prefecture in Japan. We have been helping the evacuees (be it forced or volunteered) from Fukushima to settle in Mie Prefecture and providing the children of Fukushima with recuperation programs in Mie since March 2011. We also send fresh vegetables to families in Fukushima.  
 
Our activities mentioned above have been supported by generous donations and grants. However, after six years have passed, we have realized that what private organizations—like ours—can do is limited. Yet, our activities are still necessary for many people since radiation continues to be released into the air every day as the result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Then, the question is how we can tackle with such an unprecedented scale of disaster. To be honest, we are at a loss. However, there are two important precedents we should follow. 
 
The first instance is the Chernobyl Law that was established by the government of the former Soviet Union for the people affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in order to protect their lives and health from radiation. The Chernobyl Law is also the first law in the world that manifests the universal human rights to the life of the people affected by the radiation disaster. We believe that Japan must enact the law equivalent to the Chernobyl Law.  
 
Another instance is Japan’s Freedom of Information Law that was established by the government of Japan in 1999. This law was the product of the accumulated efforts made by the citizens all over Japan; those citizens requested their own local governments and members of the city councils to enact the Freedom of Information Law at the municipal levels. This citizen movement eventually led to the enactment of this law at the national level. We can establish Japan’s Chernobyl Law by following this history and experience of the civil actions that eventually realized the Freedom of Information Law in Japan.
 
We would like to work together with many of you toward the enactment of Japan’s Chernobyl Law in order to protect our health and lives from the radiation disaster.
Please take a moment to read the following. We hope that you support our idea and join our effort to establish Japan’s Chernobyl Law.
 
Five years after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the so-called “Chernobyl Law” was established by the former Soviet Union; it was then succeeded by the governments of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus after the dissolvement of the Soviets.  
 
All these governments have guaranteed the right to evacuation for the residents living in the contaminated areas by radiation, while providing the people living in the areas to which the evacuation orders were issued with the social security. The three countries are not necessarily in a sound economic situation; consequently, they are not able to fulfill all the compensations stimulated by the law. Nonetheless, the Chernobyl Law is still significant for human history as it identifies the government as the primary responsible for the nuclear disaster and guarantees the unconditional right to evacuation for the residents living in areas where one’s exposure to radiation would exceed 1 mSv/year.
 
On the other hand, the Japanese government raised the standard of public dose limit for radiation exposure from 1 mSv to 20 mSv per year after the Fukushima nuclear accident, and continues to maintain the same dose limit as the safety standard, which turns to be the criteria for the government to lift the evacuation order today. 
 
Furthermore, the Fukushima Health Management Survey Committee has renounced the possibility of causal relation between the increasing number of thyroid cancers among the Fukushima children and radiation, and has never taken a drastic measurement for the health problems among the residents of Fukushima.
 
Japan’s radiation risk management policy considerably differs from that of the three former USSR countries, which set up 1 mSv/ year as the public dose limit for radiation exposure and provide the social security for the people who are diagnosed as a possible victim of the radiological consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
 
Immediately after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the government of the former Soviet Union raised the standard of the public dose for radiation exposure from 1 mSv to 100 mSv/year; and some experts insisted that 100 mSv/year was ‘safe’ even around the period where the Chernobyl Law was being established. However, the public dose limit was reversed to 1mSv/year, which is the international standard, because the nuclear power plant workers, who had dealt with the accident, fiercely opposed to the government’s policy of 100 mSv as the post-Chernobyl public dose limit. 
 
We, the citizens in Japan, too, experienced the nuclear catastrophe that reminded us of the dignity of life.
We must speak out and take actions in order to establish Japan’s Chernobyl Law.
                                                          
May 2017
 
Please contact us if you like to work with us to draft a model plan and formulate a procedure to enact the law at the municipal level. The below is our contacts:
 
Email:
ueno_masami_1108@yahoo.co.jp(Masami Ueno)
noam@m6.dion.ne.jp(Toshio Yanagihara)
 

Fukui Governor OK to Restart Kansai Electric’s Oi Nuclear Plant Reactors N°3 & N°4

hhjlmmùm.jpg
The No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear plant in Oi, Fukui Prefecture
Fukui gives OK to restart of Kansai Electric’s Oi nuclear plant
FUKUI–Kansai Electric Power Co. has cleared all hurdles toward restarting two reactors at its Oi nuclear power plant early next year after gaining the consent of the prefectural governor here Nov. 27.
The utility plans to resume operations of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors in January and March, respectively.
“I have agreed to the restart after taking into account the position of the Oi town government and Fukui prefectural assembly, as well as the response by the central government and the operator of the plant concerning our request to have an interim storage site for spent nuclear fuel to be built outside the prefecture,” Governor Issei Nishikawa told reporters here the same day.
Nishikawa signed off on Kansai Electric’s request following similar moves by the town government of Oi, which hosts the Oi nuclear plant, the town assembly and the prefectural assembly.
In response to the governor’s request concerning the storage site, Shigeki Iwane, president of Kansai Electric, has already pledged to offer a proposed alternative site next year.
Industry minister Hiroshige Seko, too, vowed that the central government will be involved in drawing up the plan.
Nishikawa pushed for the construction of the interim storage facility outside the prefecture as a condition to agreeing to the restart of the Oi plant.
Five reactors are now operating in Japan after clearing new nuclear regulations established in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Two of the reactors are at Kansai Electric’s Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture.
The Fukui District Court, citing safety concerns, ordered a halt to the operations of Oi’s No. 3 and No. 4 reactors in May 2014.
But Kansai Electric appealed the decision and has since been gearing up to restart the units.
Fukui Gov. OKs restart of 2nd plant in prefecture
FUKUI, Japan (Kyodo) — Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa on Monday gave the go-ahead for Kansai Electric Power Co. to restart two reactors at its Oi nuclear power plant in the central Japan prefecture.
With Fukui also hosting Kansai Electric’s Takahama plant where two reactors have already resumed operation, the planned restart of the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Oi complex would make the prefecture the first since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster to have two active nuclear power plants.
The governor conveyed the decision to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko over the phone Monday.
The Osaka-based utility plans to bring the No. 3 reactor back online in mid-January and restart the No. 4 unit in mid-March.
The two reactors located on the Sea of Japan coast resumed operation in July 2012 under tentative nuclear safety standards set by the then-Democratic Party of Japan government while all other reactors in the country remained idle for checks following the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi complex.
The two reactors at the Oi complex went offline in September 2013 for regular checkups and cleared the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety review based on the country’s post-Fukushima screening standards in May.
The Fukui governor’s approval of the restart came after Kansai Electric President Shigeki Iwane said Thursday the utility would decide by the end of 2018 where to set up a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel.
The governor had been requesting the utility’s construction plan for the facility.
Speaking at a press conference, Nishikawa said he has come to the decision after “comprehensively considering opinions of our town and prefectural assemblies as well as responses of the government and the plant operator to an idea of setting up an interim storage facility outside our prefecture.”
The central government is yet to pick a final disposal site for nuclear waste, including spent fuel.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohihide Suga said in a separate press conference it is “extremely meaningful” that the plan to restart the two reactors in Oi has now received approval from the hosting prefecture’s governor.
Suga, however, declined to clarify the government’s stance on the opposition voiced by Taizo Mikazuki, governor of neighboring Shiga Prefecture.
About 20 antinuclear activists gathered in front of the Fukui prefectural government office Monday to show their opposition to the decision.
Jiku Miyazaki, a 73-year-old temple master in Oi, expressed concerns about whether residents can safely evacuate if a nuclear accident occurs.
“Under the current conditions, we won’t be able to evacuate,” Miyazaki said, citing troubles residents encounter when typhoons strike the region.
“We want them to take measures in view of the possibility of the two nuclear plants having accidents at the same time.”
Some residents hope for the economic benefits that an influx of plant workers could promise local businesses.
A man in his 50s said, “Our life here is depending on (the plant). As long as the governor judges it is safe, we need it to be restarted or we will be in trouble.”

Japan is poised to release into the Pacific one million tons of radioactive water contaminated by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant

Fukushima’s radioactive water grows by 150 tons a day and Japan doesn’t know what to do with it. Scientists vs fishermen and locals conflict.
26 nov icewall 3.png

Japan is poised to flood the Pacific with one million tons of nuclear water contaminated by the Fukushima power plant

Japan urged by experts to gradually release radioactive water into Pacific Ocean
Comes more than six years after tsunami overwhelmed Fukushima nuclear plant
The water is stored on site in around 900 large and densely packed tanks
But if the tank breaks, the contents may not be able to be controlled
The Japanese government is being urged by experts to gradually release radioactive water in to the Pacific Ocean more than six years after a tsunami overwhelmed the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
The water is stored on site in around 900 large and densely packed tanks and could spill should another major disaster strike.
The government has been urged to release the water into the ocean as all the radioactive elements of the water except tritium – which has been said to be safe in small amounts – have been removed through treatment.
But if the tank breaks, the contents may not be able to be controlled.
Local fishermen are extremely hesitant to this solution because many consumers are still uncertain to eat fish caught off Fukushima, despite tests that say the fish is safe to eat.
Today only about half of the region’s 1,000 fishermen go out and just twice a week because of reduced demand.
Fumio Haga, a drag-net fisherman, said: ‘People would shun Fukushima fish again as soon as the water is released.’
Lab technicians mince fish samples at Onahama port in Iwaki, pack them in a cup for inspection and record details such as who caught the fish and where.
Packaged fish then sold at supermarkets carry official ‘safe’ stickers.
Only three kinds of fish passed the test when the experiment began in mid-2012, 15 months after the tsunami.
Over time, that number has increased to about 100.
The fish meet what is believed to be the world’s most stringent requirement: less than half the radioactive cesium level allowed under Japan’s national standard and one-twelfth of the US or EU limit, said Yoshiharu Nemoto, a senior researcher at the Onahama testing station.
The amount of radioactive water at Fukushima is still growing, by 150 tons a day.
The reactors are damaged beyond repair, but cooling water must be constantly pumped in to keep them from overheating.
That water picks up radioactivity before leaking out of the damaged containment chambers and collecting in the basements.
There, the volume of contaminated water grows, because it mixes with groundwater that has seeped in through cracks in the reactor buildings.
After treatment, 210 tons is reused as cooling water, and the remaining 150 tons is sent to tank storage.
During heavy rains, the groundwater inflow increases significantly, adding to the volume.
The water is a costly headache for Tokyo Electric Power Co, the utility that owns the plant.
To reduce the flow, it has dug dozens of wells to pump out groundwater before it reaches the reactor buildings and built an underground ‘ice wall’ of questionable effectiveness by partially freezing the ground around the reactors.
Another government panel recommended last year that the utility, known as TEPCO, dilute the water up to about 50 times and release about 400 tons daily to the sea – a process that would take almost a decade to complete.
Experts note that the release of radioactive tritium water is allowed at other nuclear plants.

Testimony of a mother who evacuated from Tokyo

Listen to her testimony (in English).

She evacuated from Tokyo to Kobe in west Japan to protect her daughter.
The contamination does not stop at the Fukushima department border. Tokyo is also contaminated.

 

Transcription (note 1):
I am standing here to tell you that the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe is not over.
I evacuated to Kansai (note2), three years after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.
Where do you think I evacuated from?
I evacuated from Tokyo!
Do you know that Tokyo has serious radioactive contamination?
Tens of millions of people in east Japan live with radioactive contamination now.
I have a daughter who was 5 years old at the time of the accident.
She became very sick one year after the accident.
In fact, my daughter became so sick that she could not live a normal life at all.
However, when she stayed in a place where there was no radioactive contamination, my daughter became so well. But when we returned to Tokyo, my daughter became sick again.
We did not have the option to stay in Tokyo, we just fled from Tokyo and came here.
Living in east Japan means living with many radioactive materials, and it is not a place where people can live healthily.
We are calling for evacuation to west Japan.
We are evacuees from eastern Japan.
Our existence will not be broadcasted on radio waves or published in newspapers. So, I am telling you about it now.
After the accident, we were told that radiation was not a problem, health damages would not occur.
But it was not true.
Many of us have evacuated from east to west due to various health problems.
Many people are getting sick today in east Japan.
People are dying without noticing that it is due to radiation.
Many Japanese can not face this nuclear catastrophe.
Please try to know what is going on in Japan now.
We are telling the world that the nuclear disaster is far from being over.
Note 1: We thank Ms Yoko Chase for her proofreading of the text prepared by Ms Yoko Shimozawa.
Note 2: The region in west Japan, including large cities such as Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe.

Deaths of newborns increased in areas irradiated by Fukushima nuclear disaster

pregnant-woman-irradiated.gif
Academic paper: “Increases in perinatal mortality in prefectures contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan”  
Source Institute: 医療問題研究会
エビデンスに基づく保健・医学・薬学(EBM)の実践的研究を
Institute link : http://ebm-jp.com
Link to full text pdf: http://ebm-jp.com/wp-content/uploads/media-2016002-medicine.pdf
Authors and copyright:  Hagen Heinrich Scherb, Dr rer nat Dipl-Matha,∗, Kuniyoshi Mori, MDb, Keiji Hayashi, MDcEditor: Roman Leischik.
Abstract:
Descriptive observational studies showed upward jumps in secular European perinatal mortality trends after Chernobyl.
The question arises whether the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident entailed similar phenomena in Japan. For 47 prefectures representing 15.2 million births from 2001 to 2014, the Japanese government provides monthly statistics on 69,171 cases of perinatal death of the fetus or the newborn after 22 weeks of pregnancy to 7 days after birth.
Employing change-point methodology for detecting alterations in longitudinal data, we analyzed time trends in perinatal mortality in the Japanese prefectures stratified by exposure to estimate and test potential increases in perinatal death proportions after Fukushima possibly associated with the earthquake, the tsunami, or the estimated radiation exposure.
Areas with moderate to high levels of radiation were compared with less exposed and unaffected areas, as were highly contaminated areas hit versus untroubled by the earthquake and the tsunami. Ten months after the earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear accident, perinatal mortality in 6 severely contaminated prefectures jumped up from January 2012 onward: jump odds ratio 1.156; 95% confidence interval (1.061, 1.259), P-value 0.0009.
There were slight increases in areas with moderate levels of contamination and no increases in the rest of Japan.
In severely contaminated areas, the increases of perinatal mortality 10 months after Fukushima were essentially independent of the numbers of dead and missing due to the earthquake and the tsunami. Perinatal mortality in areas contaminated with radioactive substances started to increase 10 months after the nuclear accident relative to the prevailing and stable secular downward trend. These results are consistent with findings in Europe after Chernobyl. 
Since observational studies as the one presented here may suggest but cannot prove causality because of unknown and uncontrolled factors or confounders, intensified research in various scientific disciplines is urgently needed to better qualify and quantify the association of natural and artificial environmental radiation with detrimental genetic health effects at the population level…..