Radiation still too high in reactor#2 building

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July 2, 2018
A robotic probe has found that radiation levels remain too high for humans to work inside one of the reactor buildings at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
 
Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the plant, plans to relocate 615 units of nuclear fuel from the spent fuel pool, which is located on the top floor of the No. 2 reactor building and is separate from the reactor itself.
 
TEPCO says the relocation will help reduce risks, including possible damage caused by earthquakes.
 
The No. 2 reactor underwent a meltdown, but did not experience a hydrogen explosion in the 2011 nuclear accident. The building is likely to still have a high concentration of radioactive materials.
 
Last month, TEPCO drilled a hole in the wall of the building in order to use a camera-equipped robot to create a detailed map of the radiation on the top floor.
 
On Monday, workers started the survey and measured radiation levels at 19 points, mainly near the opening. Up to 59 millisieverts were detected per hour.
 
That’s above workers’ allowable annual exposure of 50 millisieverts and more than half of their 5-year exposure limit. TEPCO has concluded it cannot let humans work inside the building.
 
TEPCO will use the results to determine specific ways to remove the fuel from the pool. It plans to start the work in fiscal 2023.

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Fuel removal from Fukushima reactor may be delayed

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June 29, 2018
The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says work to remove spent nuclear fuel from a cooling pool at one of its reactors may be delayed.
A total of 566 fuel units remain in the cooling pool at the No.3 reactor, which suffered a meltdown in 2011. Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, planned to start removing the fuel as early as this autumn, as part of the decommissioning of the nuclear complex.
But on Thursday, TEPCO revealed the control board of a crane used in the removal malfunctioned during a test run last month. It blamed a voltage error and said the board will be replaced.
The company said the test run may be delayed by one or 2 months, pushing back the start date for fuel removal.
TEPCO’s chief decommissioning officer, Akira Ono, says he takes the glitch seriously as it shows key equipment was not handled properly.
He says that although safety must come first, his team still aims to stick to the original timetable and start the removal of nuclear fuel by around the middle of the current fiscal year, which ends in March next year.

‘Green Lawn’: Pundit Suggests Fukushima Prefecture May Remain Without NPP

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24 June, 2018
Following the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant core meltdown, the Fukushima No. 2 plant, which survived the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, may be decommissioned. The president of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), Tomoaki Kobayakawa, announced this in an interview with the governor of Fukushima Prefecture, Masao Uchibori.
The statement that the company is considering this option was made for the first time the Janapese Times (Nihon Keizai) reported.
Before the accident, Fukushima No. 1, with its six power units with a total generation capacity of 4.7GW, was considered one of the 25 largest nuclear power plants in the world. While there are only four power units at Fukushima No. 2, they were all shut down after March 2011.
Although there were serious problems with the emergency cooling system after they were shut down, the temperature of the reactors and the situation at the nuclear power plant could be quickly brought under control. The emergency situation at the power plant was lifted on December 26, 2011. However, since then, it has not resumed work.
According to TEPCO estimates, the closure of the Fukushima No. 2 power plant will require approximately 280 billion yen. In addition, another 22 trillion yen will go to the ongoing cleanup of the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
Japanese media have reported that the company was forced to take such a radical step because of the concerns of residents of the prefecture and the demands of local authorities. The potential dangers caused by natural disasters on the Japanese islands were also taken into consideration.
Just this week, after an earthquake in Osaka, all the nuclear power plants located in relative proximity to the epicenter were inspected.
Expert Mikhail Rylov from the Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety told Sputnik that it would be difficult to relaunch the Fukushima No. 2 plant.
“I think this is, first of all, a business issue. For several years the equipment at the NPP [nuclear power plant] hasn’t been in use, and if it worked, it was not in the normal operational mode. To restart the power plant after so many years is troublesome and time consuming. Having estimated the technical condition and residual life of the power units, the company realized that even after restarting the nuclear power plant, in a few years the resource will need to be extended. And this is a very expensive task, requiring considerable intellectual and monetary costs. Surely they also took into account the issues of infrastructure, logistics, potential natural disasters, highly qualified personnel, etc. Like other nuclear power plants in Japan, [they] have already been tired of inspections after the Fukushima No. 1 disaster.”
Mr. Rylov noted that the decommissioning of the power plant is the best option in the current situation despite the fact that dismantling the plant is also a hard process.
“It takes several years to dismantle a nuclear power plant to the state of a ‘brown lawn,’ when not only equipment that was not intended for further use, but all the radioactive waste is removed from the site. The site can be used for other purposes, including for the needs of nuclear energy. But to bring the site of the former nuclear power plant to the state of a ‘green lawn’ will take several decades. ‘Green Lawn’ is a complete dismantling of reactor facilities, buildings, and disposal of radioactive waste with the complete elimination of all traces of NPP activities. Ideally, the final stage of the decommissioning process of a reactor should be a ‘green lawn,’ which means it would be safe for a public park or to build a kindergarten. How far will the Japanese company go, it’s hard to say. After all, there was still no official notification about the closure of the station,” the expert concluded.
The  No. 4  unit at the Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture restarted operations last week after it met all the requirements imposed after the Fukushima No. 1 plant accident. It became the ninth nuclear reactor to be restarted after new tougher requirements were introduced. A demonstration was held against the resumption of operations and people demanded that the country’s energy policy be changed.

TEPCO to gauge radiation in reactor N°2 building

 

June 21, 2018
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant intends to send a robot into the No.2 reactor building as early as next week to measure interior radiation levels in detail.
It is a key step toward removing all 615 nuclear fuel rod units that remain in a storage pool in the building, and eventually decommissioning the reactor.
The pool is located on the top floor of the building. The No.2 reactor experienced a meltdown after the major earthquake and tsunami that hit eastern Japan in 2011.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, plans to transfer the fuel units to reduce the risks posed by possible earthquakes and other factors.
TEPCO needs to map radiation levels and other detailed conditions inside the building before retrieving the fuel units.
The utility on Thursday finished breaching a wall of the building to allow entry to a robot and heavy machinery. Work on the 5-meter wide and 7-meter high hole started last month.
TEPCO plans to send a robot fitted with a camera and a radiation measurement device through the opening as early as next week.
And TEPCO could start removing the fuel around fiscal 2023 based upon the survey results.
TEPCO also seeks to begin retrieving nuclear fuel from the No.1 reactor around fiscal 2023 and from the No.3 reactor as soon as this autumn. Both reactors had a meltdown following the natural disaster.

 

Japan’s Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center calls for TEPCO to be liquidated

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June 4, 2018
On April 5, 2018, the government’s Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center notified residents of Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture, and TEPCO of its decision to discontinue its efforts to achieve an Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) on the residents’ demand for additional compensation for mental anguish caused by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.
  Around 15,700 residents of the town near TEPCO’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FDNPS) launched this class action lawsuit, demanding that the utility’s monthly compensation payments to them be raised from the present 100,000 to 350,000 yen per person. The town government acted as the representative of the residents’ group in this case.
  Earlier, in March 2014, the center presented an ADR proposal that the compensation payments be increased by 50,000 yen per person (with increases of up to 80,000 yen for elderly people aged 75 or more) for a certain period of time. The Namie residents accepted the proposal, while the utility rejected it as many as six times, claiming that the increase would have too great an effect from the perspective of fairness with other evacuees. Confronted with this situation, the center has decided to discontinue its mediation efforts.
  Since the nuclear accident at FDNPS, TEPCO has repeatedly insisted that its original standpoint was to carry out the accident clean-up and settlement operations in Fukushima, and that the utility was officially allowed to survive to fulfill this responsibility. For the purpose of extending appropriate and speedy damage compensation, the utility declared that it had set three targets, (1) to provide compensation to every single sufferer, (2) to extend it expeditiously and with careful attention to the sufferers’ needs, and (3) to pay respect to out-of-court settlement proposals.
  The question now is, what has happened to the utility’s determination to fulfill this responsibility? How do they explain the gap between the three targets mentioned above and their refusal to accept the ADR proposal on the additional compensation for the Namie Town residents? TEPCO’s contradictory action is totally unacceptable.
  Coincidentally, the Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC) announced on the same day that TEPCO and Tohoku Electric Power Co. had complied with its request and agreed to jointly pay around 174 billion yen to JAPC.  JAPC claimed that this huge amount of money is necessary for improving its Tokai No.2 Power Station (T2PS) facilities to meet the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s (NRA) new safety requirements. This announcement was made at NRA’s 562nd meeting on nuclear power plant compatibility with the new requirements, held on April 5.
  According to the mutual contract, TEPCO is required to buy 80 percent of all electricity generated by T2PS, and Tohoku Electric Power, 20 percent. The two utilities are, therefore, extending financial support to JAPC in accordance with this ratio. The contract says, that when JAPC incurs massive debts that exceed its own capital, the two utilities will extend financial support to the company in the form of debt guarantees and other financial aid.
  JAPC, jointly established by Electric Power Development Co. (J-POWER) and electric power companies, is a firm specializing in nuclear power generation. Officials of TEPCO and Kansai Electric Power Co. have assumed the post of company president alternately. The incumbent JAPC president, Mamoru Muramatsu, was previously a TEPCO Managing Executive Officer.
  Of the four nuclear power reactors owned by JAPC, the Tokai Power Station, the first commercial nuclear power plant in Japan, and Unit 1 of the Tsuruga Power Station are in decommissioning phase, while the other two are planned to be reactivated. They are the T2PS and Unit 2 of the Tsuruga plant. Despite this plan, the restart of these two nuclear reactors appears to be extremely difficult. In the case of the Tsuruga plant, an NRA expert team has recently issued an assessment that an active fault lies under Unit 2 of the plant in Fukui Prefecture. To reactivate the T2PS, JAPC is required to win consent from six local communities located within a 30km radius of the plant.
  Although JAPC is unable to restart its nuclear reactors and is incapable of generating power, it is receiving from Tokyo, Kansai, Chubu, Hokuriku, and Tohoku Electric Power Companies a huge amount of money as “electricity sale proceeds” each year based on the mutual contract. In FY2016, JAPC received 106.5 billion yen in total from the five utilities, of which TEPCO paid 43 billion yen.
  The total amount received by JAPC from the five utilities during the six years after 2011 reached approximately 769.0 billion yen.
  The utilities are raising this enormous amount of money by padding consumers’ electricity bills. This extra payment by consumers is spent on JAPC’s idled nuclear power plants that have no prospect of reactivation. Without this revenue, it is obvious that JAPC would have already become bankrupt. Meanwhile, the amount of additional compensation proposed in the ADR plan and refused by TEPCO totaled around 9.5 billion yen annually.
  The government has allocated 13.5-trillion yen in government bonds for compensation to be paid by TEPCO, and it has already decided to convert more than 10 trillion yen of the bonds into Japanese currency. Furthermore, there is a strong possibility that the government’s financial assistance needed by TEPCO may eventually exceed this projected level. The government’s Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation currently owns 54.69% of all shares in TEPCO, and depending on the situation regarding conversion of its preferred stock into common stock, its ownership may expand to 75% in the future. Without such generous financial support from the state, it is certain that the utility would have gone under a long while ago. TEPCO was officially allowed to survive because it has a duty to pay compensation to the Fukushima nuclear accident sufferers and to achieve decommissioning of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. This failed company, however, is abdicating this responsibility and is financially supporting another virtually-insolvent company. This is an extremely unusual and unreasonable situation.
  On April 10, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshige Seko, reportedly expressed his approval of TEPCO’s financial support to JAPC, saying that this matter should be determined by the utility itself in accordance with its business management responsibility. This remark is also incomprehensible. At present, Keita Nishiyama, former Deputy Director-General for Economic and Social Policy of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), assumes the post of a TEPCO Director, and Ryuichi Yamashita,  former Director-General of the Natural Resources and Fuel Department in the METI’s Natural Resources and Energy Agency, is a TEPCO executive officer. In other words, it was METI, which holds more than 50% of TEPCO shares and dispatches its officials to the utility, that made this business decision.
  However, it is impermissible for the government, which is spending such an enormous amount of taxpayers’ money on TEPCO, to allow the utility to give financial support to another collapsed company. In the first place, the government should never have tolerated the utility’s payment of as much as 270.8 billion yen to JAPC as money to purchase electricity over the past six years.
  If the state is rich enough to permit TEPCO to spend massive funds for unnecessary purposes, it should force the utility to take responsibility for causing the Fukushima nuclear accident and reduce the financial burden borne by the Japanese public.
  There is no need for TEPCO to survive any longer, because it has abdicated its responsibility for the nuclear accident and continues to support a virtually failed company.
  The utility should go bankrupt and be liquidated.
* TEPCO’s annual electricity sales for 2016 totaled 241.5 billion kWh, which means each household is paying 789 yen to the utility annually. (The average electricity consumption per household in 2016 was 4,432kWh.)

Why wasn’t TEPCO bankrupted? – Japan’s Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center

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June 4, 2018
The nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO’s) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FDNPS) has left TEPCO under a huge pile of debt. At the time, there were arguments in favor of dissolving TEPCO, the liable party, but due to the Japanese government’s generous support, the company continues to exist to this day. In this article, we attempt to throw light on the reasons why TEPCO was not bankrupted.
Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage
Japan’s Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage states in Section 3, “Where nuclear damage is caused as a result of reactor operation etc. during such operation, the nuclear operator who is engaged in the reactor operation etc. on this occasion shall be liable for the damage, except in the case where the damage is caused by a grave natural disaster of an exceptional character or by an insurrection.” In Section 4, the Act stipulates that “Where nuclear damage is covered by the preceding section, no person other than the nuclear operator who is liable for the damage pursuant to the preceding section shall be liable for the damage.” Thus while imposing on the nuclear power operator unlimited no-fault liability with liability concentrated in its hands, it also provides exemptions in the form of “a grave natural disaster of an exceptional character or by an insurrection.” At the same time, Section 16 provides for necessary government assistance to pay compensation, and Section 17 states that in the case of “a grave natural disaster of an exceptional character or by an insurrection” the government “shall take necessary measures to relieve victims and to prevent the damage from spreading.”
  What became a problem at the time of the FNDPS accident was whether or not it had occurred due to a grave natural disaster of an exceptional character. From the outset, the government indicated the stance of not applying the exemption, stating, “As the nuclear power operator, TEPCO should bear liability for damage caused by this nuclear power plant accident.” TEPCO insisted that the accident was due to “a grave natural disaster of an exceptional character” and that “there is a margin for judging that an exemption be invoked,” but eventually accepted liability.
 
Financing immediately after the accident
Since the exemption was not invoked, TEPCO faced unlimited compensation for the damage caused by the FNDPS accident. In 2011, the government estimated that compensation alone would be of the order of 4.5 trillion yen.
  TEPCO’s cash and deposits as the accounts were closed at the end of the third quarter of 2010 (December 31, 2010) were 366.5 billion yen. With company bond redemptions of 500 billion yen coming up in FY2011 and the need to procure fuel worth 800 billion yen, financing from the market was fraught with difficulties after the FNDPS nuclear accident, bringing TEPCO close to bankruptcy.
  TEPCO’s cash and deposits leaped up to 2.2 trillion yen at the close of accounts for FY2010 (March 31, 2011). This was almost all in long-term loans. According to news reports at the time, 1.865 trillion yen was provided in loans of three to ten years, with no warranty and at the same interest as before the accident, by eight financial institutions, including the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (600 billion yen), the Mizuho Corporate Bank (500 billion yen) and the Mitsubishi UFJ Bank (300 billion yen). It is said that in the background to this was the statement by the then deputy minister of the Ministry for the Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Kazuo Matsunaga, that “We must also not shirk  responsibility. I would also like to see support from financial institutions.”
  TEPCO thus managed to overcome the problems of March 2011, but even after that, arguments insisting that TEPCO be declared bankrupt and go into legal liquidation continued. However, in the end, it was decided to allow the company to survive from the viewpoint that if TEPCO went into legal liquidation compensation to those affected by the nuclear accident would be delayed.
  Especially problematical were the electric power bonds issued by TEPCO. The Electricity Business Act allows TEPCO and the other power business operators to issue company bonds with “general collateral” that make it possible to prioritize debt repayment to other creditors. In other words, if a company goes bankrupt, those financial institutions that originally stood to make profits from the purchase of the company bonds would receive first priority in debt repayment, whereas compensation for those affected by the nuclear accident would be on the same pecking order as repayment for other debts (e.g. loans, etc.).
  TEPCO’s net assets as of March 31, 2011 were 1.6024 trillion yen. It was clear that the estimate for compensation at the time of 4.5 trillion yen would put TEPCO in a situation of net capital deficiency. The balance of company debt at this time was 4.4251 trillion yen. If TEPCO were to be declared bankrupt at that time, the company debt would first have to be repaid, after which other debts, including the liabilities to those affected by the nuclear accident, would be paid out.
  There was also the option of allowing TEPCO to go bankrupt, and having discharged the debts the government would, in a separate deal, then pay out compensation from the national treasury to those affected by the nuclear accident. However, since the accident was still ongoing, liquidating TEPCO might pose obstacles to the work of the post-accident clean-up. Considering this, it is not unreasonable that the government at the time decided to allow TEPCO to continue to exist. However, by allowing TEPCO to survive, the stockholders who had invested in TEPCO and the financial institutions that had provided funds, i.e. the investors who bore a certain risk for the sake of profits, suffered no losses, and in their place the greater population of Japan overall would take on the burden. That was how the current TEPCO survival scheme was born.
 
The TEPCO survival scheme
In August 2011, the government enacted the Nuclear Damage Compensation Facilitation Corporation Act to avoid a TEPCO bankruptcy. The scheme inherent in the act is as follows:
1) The government shall establish the Nuclear Damage Compensation Facilitation Corporation (later reorganized as the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation in August 2014) as the facilitating organization handling compensation payments and so on in the case of nuclear damage, and nuclear power operators are to establish a reserve fund (general contributions) to provide compensation.
2) The Corporation shall levy a special contribution from the nuclear operator that caused the accident (in this case TEPCO).
3) The Corporation shall provide financial facilitation (granting of funds, acceptance of stocks, loans, purchase of company bonds, etc.) when the Corporation’s facilitation is required for compensation by the nuclear operator. To procure the funds necessary for financial facilitation, the Corporation can issue government-guaranteed compensation bonds to borrow money from financial institutions.
4) In the case that special support is required from the government, the Corporation and the nuclear operator shall determine the amount of compensation, prepare a “special business plan” that sets out the content and value of the financial support, policies for business management rationalization and so on, and receive approval from the relevant ministers (the Cabinet Office and METI). Following approval, the government will allocate government bonds to the Corporation, the necessary funds then being granted to the nuclear operator by the Corporation.
5) The Corporation shall pay into the national treasury money up to the amount of redemption of the government bonds.
  Based on this scheme, TEPCO and the Corporation devised a Special Emergency Business Plan in November 2011, following up with a Comprehensive Special Business Plan in May 2012, a New Comprehensive Special Business Plan in January 2014 and a New-New Comprehensive Special Business Plan in May 2017. On the basis of these business plans, the government established a government bond allocation limit of 13.5 trillion yen (including decontamination and mid-term storage of radioactive wastes, etc. as well as compensation) for the Corporation and it was decided to provide a grant of 10.2006 trillion yen to TEPCO. In addition to this, the Corporation accepted one trillion yen in TEPCO stocks in July 2012 (making the Corporation the holder of 54% of TEPCO stocks, which would increase to 80% if class B priority stocks were converted to class A stocks). Furthermore, besides the above, TEPCO also estimates that that 8 trillion yen will be needed for decommissioning and as countermeasures for contaminated water. As a result, the costs involved in dealing with the FNDPS nuclear accident are therefore currently estimated to be 21.5 trillion yen.
  Of this, it is presumed that the 4 trillion yen estimated for decontamination costs will be eventually supplemented by profits accruing from the sale of TEPCO stocks, the 1.6 trillion yen costs for intermediate storage facilities will be paid from the national treasury, and that 3.7 trillion yen of the total compensations will be paid by nuclear power operators from the general contributions, while 0.24 trillion yen will be borne by imposing a power distribution consignment charge on power companies that have entered the market recently due to deregulation of the power market.
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<Hajime Matsukubo, CNIC>

TEPCO employee dies working inside Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant

The employee working inside the power plant began vomiting suddenly Wednesday morning, and was declared dead in the afternoon
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June 7, 2018
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A worker involved in the clean-up and maintenance of the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, died suddenly on Wednesday June 6, according to local media.
 
A 50 year-old male employee of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) was working on dismantling scaffolding within the damaged nuclear plant when he began vomiting inside his protective suit at approximately 10:40 a.m.
 
He reportedly continued to work until a second round of vomiting began around 12:45 p.m, which caused him to collapse.
 
He was immediately rushed out of the radioactive zone to a nearby hospital, but was unresponsive. Doctors declared him dead at 4:00 p.m.
 
Liberty Times reports that the man was wearing the proper protective clothing, and that there had been no signs of illness or problems during the pre-work check. However, TEPCO did report that the man had suffered from an unspecified medical condition prior to his employment with the company.
 
The man had been employed to work at the facility since March 2016. 
 
On March 11, 2011, a catastrophic tsunami struck the northeast coast of Honshu, Japan, resulting in the failure of the Fukushima nuclear fuel storage facilities. The radioactive fallout from the incident has been a continual concern for the Japanese government and global safety and energy organizations. TEPCO has been tasked with cleaning up and managing the hazardous facility.