Rokutaro Kurihara, managing director of a company that runs a shopping complex in Iitate village in Fukushima Prefecture, is struggling to keep his business afloat.
Jan 29, 2021
Commercial complexes built as part of revitalization projects in areas affected by the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011 are struggling to stay afloat.
Faced with difficulties due to swelling costs, business operators often turn to local municipalities for financial aid to help them overcome crises. But the financial struggles will not end soon, given that only a portion of the residents who evacuated from the disaster-stricken areas have returned or are expected to.
Those outlets are now facing a testing moment that will determine whether they can continue with their businesses.
A small village in Fukushima Prefecture located northwest of the power plant, Iitate, which was issued evacuation orders after the nuclear disaster, built the commercial complex Michi no Eki Madeikan for ¥1.4 billion. However, business at the commercial building, which has a convenience store and a vegetable stand, has always been touch and go.
Madei Garden Village Iitate runs the business using a ¥33 million payment from the local government. But even with those funds, the operator saw a deficit of ¥9 million in fiscal 2017 and ¥8 million the following year.
Faced with a severe financial crisis, the company was forced to seek financial aid worth ¥35 million from Iitate in 2018.
After revising its business strategy, the company managed to reduce running costs and decrease the deficit to ¥300,000 in fiscal 2019.
“We are expecting a profit in fiscal 2020. I’ll be dealing with the accumulating debt as a priority,” says Rokutaro Kurihara, the company’s managing director.
Kurihara’s company is among those operating at 12 commercial facilities in 10 towns in areas that used to be designated as no-go zones, including the town of Namie and Tamura city.
Since most of the stores and shops shut down when residents evacuated from the region, local governments have built them for returning residents.
But many of them share the same fate as Kurihara’s.
In the town of Tomioka, Sakura Mall Tomioka, which houses various shops including a grocery store, operates with support from the the town and Fukushima Prefecture, covering its yearly losses worth ¥22 million.
But an official at the municipal government warns that the town will need to raise its rent after the prefecture’s subsidy program ends at the end of fiscal 2021.
Not all tenants deal with financial stress. However, businesses that continue to attract customers worry they may lose them to competitors outside the region.
The operator of Kokonara Shopping Street, a shopping complex that opened in 2018 in the town of Naraha, believes that they cannot meet customers’ needs because they do not have much space. Recent estimates show that cashiers at the center’s 10 stores, including a supermarket and a retailer with daily necessities, served as many as 570,000 customers in fiscal 2019.
But Shigeki Nemoto, who runs a supermarket at the Kokonara shopping facility with limited products available, says he may lose his customers to a nearby, larger shopping complex.
“Our shop is really small and we are struggling to source the product lineup we would like to offer to respond to the needs of our customers,” Nemoto said, adding that he had to reduce its range of meat and fish products.
His store is about 500 square meters, about half the floor space of an average supermarket.
“The neighboring city of Iwaki has a supermarket twice as big as ours with a floor space of 1,000 square meters and we’re worried that we’ll lose out to the competition,” Nemoto added.
Meanwhile, shops operating in areas where the government-run revitalization projects are ongoing depend on workers engaged in the projects for their business.
For instance, Minamisoma city built the only supermarket in its Odaka district, which had its no-go status lifted in 2016, for ¥240 million in 2018.
But the daily number of customers now hovers at around 250.
Many workers for the government reconstruction project visit the store in the afternoon or in the evening to purchase take-out meals or daily necessities. But when the reconstruction project finishes, those workers will disappear as well.
“Operators in the area should invest more in mobile catering and delivery services to boost potential demand and lure former residents back,” a Minamisoma official said.
This section features topics and issues from the Tohoku region covered by the Kahoku Shimpo, the largest newspaper in Tohoku. The original article was published Dec. 30.
Watch “Video released of explosion at low-level radioactive waste facility” on YouTube
They do know what is buried there. Liars. It is pieces.of the old.closed.san onofre reactor from san.Diego. They have since moved the waste to tooele by SLC. And this is.low.leve waste.
this is the best nuclear information site w.nuclear-news.net. I think.better than beyond.nuclear but im.glad beyond nuclear exists. I hope iori is ok
I am saddened by human insanity, if there was as much energy, to stop nuclear energy, as there was insane energy, in the capital, on January 6, 2021 to try to keep, psychotic-supernucleoape-donald-trump in power, we could do something substantial.about the nuclear problems, that will.destroy us soon. The accumulating, high level wastes. The nuclear weapons. The decrepit reactors ready to blow.
The Germans are doing it. Why can’t America do it?
Embrittlement in Nuclear Power Plants, https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/02/01/embrittlement-in-nuclear-power-plants/ BY KARL GROSSMAN – HARVEY WASSERMAN
– 1 Feb 2021
Of all the daunting tasks Joe Biden faces, especially vital is the inspection of dangerously embrittled atomic reactors still operating in the United States.
A meltdown at any one of them would threaten the health and safety of millions of people while causing major impact to an already struggling economy. The COVID-19 pandemic would complicate and add to the disaster. A nuclear power plant catastrophe would severely threaten accomplishments Biden is hoping to achieve in his presidency.
The problem of embrittlement is on the top of the list of nuclear power concerns. The “average age”—length of operation—of nuclear power plants in the U.S., the federal government’s Energy information Agency, reported in 2019 was 38 years.
Now, in 2021, the “average age” of nuclear power plants in the U.S. is 40 years—the length of time originally seen when nuclear power began in the U.S. for how long plants could operate before embrittlement set in.
That’s why the operating licenses originally issued for the plants were limited to 40 years.
Here’s how Arnold “Arnie” Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with more than 44 years of experience in the nuclear industry, who became a whistleblower and is now chief engineer at Fairewinds Associates, explains embrittlement: “When exposed to radiation, metal becomes embrittled and eventually can crack like glass. The longer the radiation exposure, the worse the embrittlement becomes.”
A nuclear reactor is just like a pressure cooker and is a pot designed to hold the radioactive contents of the atomic chain reaction in the nuclear core,” continues Gundersen, whose experience includes being a licensed Critical Facility Reactor Operator. “And metals in reactors are exposed to radiation every day a plant operates”
“If the reactor is embrittled and cracks,” says Gundersen, “it’s ‘game over’ as all the radiation can spew out into the atmosphere.Diablo Canyon [a twin-reactor facility in California] is the worst, the most embrittled nuclear power facility in the U.S., but there are plenty of others that also could crack. Starting with Diablo, every reactor in the U.S. should be checked to determine they are too embrittled to continue to safely operate.”
Metals inside a nuclear power plant are bombarded with radiation, notes Gundersen. The steel used in reactor pressure vessels—which contain the super-hot nuclear cores—is not immune.
Every U.S. reactor has an Emergency Core Cooling System and a Core Spray System to flood the super-hot core in the event of a loss-of-coolant accident.
Embrittled metal would shatter when hit with that cold water.
The ensuing explosion could then blow apart the containment structure—as happened at the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power plants—morphing into a radioactive plume moving into the atmosphere and be carried by the winds, dropping deadly fall-out wherever it goes.
This apocalyptic outcome was barely missed in Pennsylvania where, starting at 4 a.m. on March 28, 1979, fuel inside the Three Mile Island Unit Two nuclear power plant began to melt.
Its Emergency Core Cooling System was activated. But only the year before—in 1978—did the plant receive a license to operate and begin operating.
Had TMI, like so many of U.S. nuclear power plants now, been decades old and its metal pressure vessel embrittled and had shattered—a far greater disaster would have occurred. The entire northeastern U.S. could have been blanketed with deadly radioactivity
The “fleet” of old, decrepit nuclear power plants in the U.S.—with embrittled metal components—must be inspected. And with embrittlement they must be shut down.
Biden must jump into the situation—for the sake of American lives, for the sake of the nation’s future.
Nuclear power in the U.S. is under the jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC. That acronym NRC should really stand for Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission. Whatever the nuclear industry wants, the NRC says yes to.
As the result of the series of globally infamous catastrophic nuclear power plant accidents—at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima—and the availability of safe, green, cost-effective, clean renewable energy, led by solar and wind, coupled with increasing energy efficiency, the nuclear industry is in its death throes.
Only two nuclear power plants are being built now in the U.S., Vogtle 3 and 4 in Georgia. At nearly $30 billion for the pair, they’re hugely over budget—and their construction costs are still rising. In fact, virtually all operating atomic reactors are producing electricity at much higher base costs than solar and wind.
The NRC is currently seeking to try to bail out the nuclear industry—to keep it going—by allowing nuclear power plants to operate for 100 years.
In recent years it agreed to let nuclear power plants to run for 60 years and then it upped that to 80 years.
On January 21 the Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission held a “public meeting” on its plan to now extend operating licenses for U.S. nuclear power plants and allow them to run for 100 years. Speaker after speaker protested this scheme.
“It’s time to stop this whole nuke con job,” testified Erica Gray nuclear issues chair of the Virginia Sierra Club, at the meeting. There is “no solution” to dealing with nuclear waste, she said. It is “unethical to continue to make the most toxic waste known to mankind.” And renewable energy” with solar and wind “can power the world.”
“Our position… is a resounding no,” declared Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Oversight Project of the national organization Beyond Nuclear, for letting nuclear power plants run for 100 years.
Speakers cited the greatly increased likelihood of accidents if nuclear plants were allowed to run for a century.
Biden must step in and order the inspection for embrittlement of U.S. nuclear power plants.
The “fleet” of old, decrepit nuclear power plants in the U.S.—with embrittled metal components—must be inspected. And with embrittlement and other likely age-induced problems, they must be shut down.
Biden must act to prevent what would constitute nuclear suicide in the United States.
On January 27, Biden announced a climate change agenda transitioning the U.S. towards renewable energy. But taking action against fossil fuel is not enough. Nuclear power plants are also engines of global warming. The “nuclear fuel chain” which includes uranium mining, milling and fuel enrichment is carbon intensive. Nuclear plants themselves emit Carbon-14, a radioactive form of carbon.
Biden must take the lead. NOW!
Harvey Wasserman wrote the books Solartopia! Our Green-Powa
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