TEPCO aims to build more Fukushima-type nuclear reactors, vows to ‘excel in safety’ this time

5b383073fc7e937b328b459d.jpg
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant
1 Jul, 2018
TEPCO is conducting an independent geological survey to confirm the absence of active faults in Aomori Prefecture, where it wants to resume the construction of a Fukushima-type nuclear plant, frozen following the 2011 disaster.
“It’s necessary to form a consortium for building a nuclear plant that is excellent in safety, technology and economy,” TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa said in Tokyo, announcing the decision to conduct a survey of the Aomori Prefecture nuclear site.
The Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant hosts two adjoining sites administered by Tohoku Electric Power Company and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). While Tohoku Unit 1 began commercial operations in December 2005, TEPCO never got a chance to finish their unit, the construction of which began only in January 2011. All activity at the site has ceased since the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown.
TEPCO’s survey, scheduled for completion by 2020, will check the fault structure under the site using a two-kilometer-long tunnel, Kobayakawa said on Friday. Previous studies of terrain beneath the area by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) found the likely presence of multiple active, seismogenic faults. However, both TEPCO and the Tohoku Electric Power Company decided to conduct further ‘independent’ investigations to review the validity of the NRA findings.
The energy company wants to build two reactors at the site and is exploring ways to meet the stricter government regulations introduced following the Fukushima disaster. Higashidori units, however, would still use the same type of boiling-water, light-water reactors that suffered meltdown at the Fukushima plant, Japan Times noted.
“As we restart the (Higashidori) project, I want to make sure that a new plant would excel in safety,” Kobayakawa told a press conference. “The geological survey is a very significant step to move forward on the joint development of Higashidori,” he noted, adding that TEPCO has asked major utility companies in the country to contribute to the construction and operation of the Higashidori plant.
Three of the Fukushima plant’s six reactors were hit by meltdowns in 2011, after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the facility, resulting in the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

5b383073fc7e937b328b459d.jpg

Advertisements

Hakodate court rejects plea for injunction to halt construction of Oma MOX plant in Aomori

Oma nuclear plant.jpg
The Oma nuclear plant (right) is shown under construction Monday in the town of Oma, Aomori Prefecture
 
HAKODATE, HOKKAIDO – A court has dismissed a request from residents of Hakodate, Hokkaido, for an injunction to halt the construction of Electric Power Development Co.’s nuclear power plant in the town of Oma, across the Tsugaru Strait in nearby Aomori Prefecture.
 
Handing down the ruling Monday at the Hakodate District Court, the presiding judge, Chikako Asaoka, said it is “difficult to assess the particular risk of a severe accident right now” because it is uncertain when the Oma plant will enter operation.
 
The ruling also noted that the plant being built by Electric Power Development, also known as J-Power, is undergoing Nuclear Regulation Authority screenings under new standards set after the March 2011 triple core meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant.
 
“It’s not reasonable for a court of law to conduct safety examinations without waiting for the NRA screenings,” the judge said.
 
The plaintiffs plan to appeal the ruling, which was the first on a nuclear plant under construction since the Fukushima disaster.
“It’s a terrible ruling that makes light of us,” said Toshiko Takeda, 69, the leader of the plaintiff group. “How did the court reflect on the Fukushima accident? It’s really mortifying.”
 
Construction on the Oma plant started in May 2008. It is about 23 km south of Hakodate, on the other side of the Tsugaru Strait.
In July 2010, a group of citizens including Hakodate residents sued the state and J-Power over the issue. The number of plaintiffs has since risen to 1,164.
 
The main issue in the lawsuit was the safety of the Oma plant, which will only burn mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel — a blend of uranium and weapons-grade plutonium extracted from spent fuel. The Oma plant will be the world’s first fully MOX-powered plant.
 
The plaintiffs demanded that the project be canceled, arguing that a MOX plant will pose a higher accident risk. They also claimed that the new regulatory standards are inadequate and that there are geographic faults around the plant site.
J-Power insisted that the use of MOX fuel will not necessarily make it difficult to control the reactors.
 
The Hakodate court admitted that an injunction against the Oma project could be issued if the regulatory standards contained irrational points. But it concluded that the standards could not be deemed to have such points.
 
Speaking to reporters in Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture, Oma Mayor Mitsuharu Kanazawa welcomed the ruling.
“We’ve awaited this result, as we hope to proceed steadily” with the nuclear plant project, Kanazawa said.
 
Separately from the citizens’ lawsuit, the Hakodate Municipal Government took similar action at the Tokyo District Court in 2014, unconvinced by the central government’s explanations about the Oma project.
 
A municipal official working on the Tokyo lawsuit said that an accident at the Oma plant could devastate the local fishing and tourism industries.
 
Hakodate Mayor Toshiki Kudo issued a statement saying that the ruling by the Hakodate court is very regrettable. “We will check details of the ruling to draw lessons for the city’s case.”
 

Northern Japan court rejects lawsuit against construction of Ohma nuclear plant

higashidori, aomori NPP
Japan court rejects lawsuit against construction of nuclear plant
A court in northern Japan on Monday rejected a lawsuit to halt construction of a nuclear plant, said the company building the facility, Electric Power Development Co (J-Power).
 
The ruling by the Hakodate District Court in Hokkaido prefecture on the Ohma plant will be welcomed by many utilities as they push for a return to nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, despite strong opposition from chunks of the public.
More than 1,100 residents in Hokkaido, among others, had filed the lawsuit in 2010 to prevent Ohma from starting. The construction of the 1,383-megawatt plant, which will use mixed oxide fuel, a blend of uranium and plutonium recycled from spent nuclear fuel, started in 2008, but work was suspended after Fukushima in 2011.
 
Building resumed in 2012, but has been delayed as the company has to meet new safety requirements imposed after the 2011 disaster, a company spokesman said. The station is about 38-percent complete, he said.
 
J-Power in 2016 pushed back the planned start of operation by two years to 2024/25.
“We are doing all we can for the start of operations in the 2024/25 business year,” the spokesman added.
 
The ruling marks the latest judgement on atomic power in the country, with critics of nuclear energy having more success in some other cases.
 
A high court in western Japan sided with residents last December to prevent the restart of a nuclear plant idled for scheduled maintenance, although lower court decisions have usually been turned down on appeal.
 
 
Court rules against bid to halt Ohma construction
A Japanese court today rejected a lawsuit seeking to stop construction and subsequent operation of Japan Electric Power Development Corp’s (J-Power’s) Ohma nuclear power plant, being built in Aomori prefecture.
 
More than 1100 residents of Hakodate city filed a suit and claims for damages with the Hakodate District Court against J-Power and the government in July 2010. A further eight complaints have since been filed with the court.
 
The lawsuit focused on whether there is an active seismic fault in the seabed near the Ohma plant site and the risk of volcanic eruptions in the area. The plaintiffs also expressed concerns about the plant using purely mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel. Ohma 1 would be the first Japanese reactor built to run solely on MOX fuel incorporating recycled plutonium.
 
“Until now, we have asked the court to dismiss the claims, and we have carefully insisted on and verified that the safety of the Ohma nuclear power plant is secure,” J-Power said.
 
The company announced today that the Hakodate District Court had “recognised” its argument and ruled in its favour. The ruling dismisses both the injunction on the plant’s construction and the claims for damages, it noted.
 
Presiding Judge Chikako Asaoka was quoted by the Asahi Shimbun as saying: “At the moment, it is difficult to readily recognise the tangible danger of a grave accident likely to occur at the plant.”
 
“We will continue to respond appropriately to the conformity assessment by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to the new regulatory standards and we will work throughout the entire company to create a safe power plant,” J-Power said. “In addition, we will strive to provide information about the plan of the Ohma nuclear power plant to the people concerned.”
The start of construction of the Ohma plant was originally due in August 2007, with commercial operation planned for March 2012. However, the imposition of more stringent seismic regulations put back the start of construction to May 2008 and commercial operation to November 2014.
 
Work to build the first unit at Ohma – a 1383 MWe Advanced Boiling Water Reactor – was about 40% complete in March 2011 when a tsunami caused the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Construction of Ohma 1 was suspended following the accident, but was resumed in October 2012. At that time, J-Power said it would strive to establish a safe power plant by, among other things, ensuring reinforced safety measures are implemented that take into account the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident.
 
In December 2014, J-Power submitted an application to the NRA to make changes to Ohma 1’s reactor installation to strengthen the unit’s protection. These measures – including tsunami countermeasures, ensuring power supplies, ensuring heat removal functions, and severe accident responses – were originally expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
 
However, in September 2015, the company announced a one-year delay in the start of safety equipment construction, pushing back the start of operation to around 2021. This delay was attributed to the prolonged screening process by the NRA after the company was requested to submit additional information about its plans.
 
A year later, J-Power said it expects a further delay of around two years in the completion of the NRA’s review and approval process for Ohma 1. It now expects construction of the safety upgrades to begin this year and to be completed in the second half of fiscal year 2023.
“We are doing all we can for the start of operations in the 2024/25 business year,” a J-Power spokesman told Reuters.
 

Tests to start on radioactive soil for use in reconstruction

jhjklmmsdfyghjkk.jpg

Bags of radioactive soil in a temporary storage site in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, will eventually be transported to an interim storage facility.

MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture–The Environment Ministry is exploring the idea of reusing tons of radioactive soil as gravel to rebuild infrastructure in this disaster-stricken prefecture and beyond.

To gauge the feasibility of the project, it will conduct tests on whether contaminated soil can be securely contained without spillage while controlling the level of radioactivity.

The experiment is being conducted in a corner of a temporary storage site in the Odaka district here, just north of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power plant.

If the tests go off without a hitch, the government is looking at reusing the soil as a construction material in recovery efforts.

Bags of soil gathered through decontamination efforts are kept at temporary storage sites around the Fukushima plant, which went into triple meltdown in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

The first phase of the experiment involves 1,000 or so bags of contaminated soil that have to be sorted according to levels of concentration of radioactive cesium.

Radioactive soil with readings of about 2,000 becquerels per kilogram will be used for mock-up construction of seawalls and other structures. The soil will then be covered by fresh soil that is not contaminated.

The test will also explore practical safety management issues, including ways to prevent scattering of contaminated soil and keeping track of measurements of radioactivity of structures once they are completed.

Project workers began opening bags and sorting soil on April 24.

The volume of contaminated soil collected within Fukushima Prefecture amounted to a whopping 16 million cubic meters as of the end of January.

It will be kept at an interim storage facility that has been constructed within the jurisdiction of the towns of Futaba and Okuma in Fukushima Prefecture. Within the next 30 years, the soil is supposed to be transported outside the prefecture for final disposal.

The Environment Ministry said it hopes the tests will show that the plan to reuse radioactive soil in construction is safe. Projects under consideration include building foundations for seawalls and roads. The overall aim is to reduce the amount of soil that will need to be processed for final disposal.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201704250038.html

Nuclear plant construction at center of town’s first mayoral race in 16 years

 Atsuko Kumagai, owner of Asako House is one of the candidates!

ob_6d6f9b_cpkcyzgusaeyzqh.jpg

 

AOMORI – Official campaigning began Tuesday for the first mayoral election in 16 years in the town of Oma, Aomori Prefecture, with four candidates battling it out over whether an under-construction nuclear plant is good for the community.

Voters will cast ballots Sunday for the first time since January 2001. The current mayor, Mitsuharu Kanazawa, 66, faced no challengers in the three previous elections.

Kanazawa, who is seeking re-election once again, supports the early completion of the nuclear plant that Electric Power Development Co., more commonly known as J-Power, started building in 2008 on the coast of the Tsugaru Strait between Aomori and Hokkaido.

asako1

 

Two of the three other candidates oppose the construction, which was suspended in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis. The plant’s targeted start for commercial operation is currently set for fiscal 2024.

One of the candidates is Hideki Sasaki, 67, a former member of the municipal assembly in Hakodate, Hokkaido, located about 30 km across the Tsugaru Strait from the construction site. Sakaki, who moved to Oma, opposes the construction.

asako-house3.jpg

 

Another is Atsuko Kumagai, 62, the head of a citizens’ group who owns land near the construction site. She also objects to the plant’s construction and proposes reinvigorating the town through fishing and tourism.

ob_da6a11_cecxnrtwaaatkwx

 

The final candidate is Naofumi Nozaki, a 61-year-old former Oma town official. He has criticized the current town administration for excessive dependence on government nuclear power plant subsidies and has pledged to restore the town’s fiscal health and revitalize the local community.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/10/national/politics-diplomacy/nuclear-plant-construction-center-towns-first-mayoral-race-16-years/#.WHT8e1zia-d