So who will foot the bill if another nuclear disaster strikes Japan?

may 2012.jpg
From left: The No. 1 to No. 4 reactors of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in May 2012
November 1, 2018
The government is trying to wriggle out of overhauling the way compensation should be paid out for damages caused by a nuclear accident.
A working group of the government’s Atomic Energy Commission had been considering ways to bolster the system, including raising the amount of losses covered by insurance, but failed to produce a formal proposal. The commission apparently failed to obtain support for these ideas from the electric power and insurance industries.
The panel started reviewing the system in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Nearly eight years have passed since the catastrophic triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, yet serious problems and flaws remain unaddressed with the current system. The government clearly has no intention of tackling them anytime soon.
The Abe administration and the power industry are pushing to restart offline reactors, which is a very irresponsible move.
The current system for compensation requires operators of nuclear plants to sign contracts with both private-sector insurers and the government to finance payouts related to nuclear accidents.
But these contracts are good for only up to 120 billion yen ($1.06 billion) per nuclear plant. This is way too small, given that compensation payments related to the Fukushima disaster have already surpassed 8 trillion yen.
In the case of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima facility, it quickly became clear that the company could not raise the necessary funds on its own. This prospect prompted the government to create a makeshift program to support such payouts.
Under this system, the government first pays compensation and then recovers the money over a period of decades from TEPCO and other major electric utilities.
The government’s rationale is that utilities must work together to fork up funding for the system in light of the massive sums required. This system is supposed to swing into action if another major nuclear accident occurs.
But it is hard to claim that a system based on mutual aid among competitors is sustainable, given the growing competition due to the liberalization of the power retail market.
It is time to find an answer to the weighty, complicated question of how the financial burden of preparing for nuclear accidents and paying compensation for losses should be shared among electric power companies, their stakeholders and the government.
Operators of nuclear power plants have an obligation to provide against nuclear emergencies.
As a first step, insurance coverage for accident-caused losses should be sharply raised.
The government needs to continue working with related industries to work out a specific plan.
It should also consider how to deal with the prospect of a power company going under in the event of a serious accident. If such a thing were to happen, the government would probably have to play the leading role in paying compensation. But it would still need to get the shareholders and financial institutions involved to cough up their fair share of the burden.
Increased insurance premiums paid by major electric utilities could cause electricity bills to rise. But it would help make more accurate assessments of the real costs of nuclear power generation, which both the government and the power industry have claimed to be lower than those of alternative energy sources.
At the root of the troubled history of policy efforts to address the issue of compensation is the ambiguous nature of the government’s nuclear power policy. This is borne out by the way it took the initiative in promoting nuclear power plants operated by private-sector companies.
Should nuclear power generation continue despite the potential risks and social costs? If another severe nuclear accident occurs, who should take the responsibility for dealing with the aftermath and in what ways?
These are just some of the fundamental questions about nuclear power policy raised by the need to revamp the compensation system.
Advertisements

Ex-TEPCO Executive Downplays Role in Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown

Three TEPCO leaders are on trial for allegedly delaying tsunami preparation measures.
 
thediplomat-ap_11033007537-386x235
TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, center, Vice President Takashi Fujimoto, second from left, Sakae Muto, second from right, and others bow before a news conference at the company’s head office in Tokyo, Japan (March 30, 2011).
October 31, 2018
Prosecutors at Tokyo Metropolitan District Court continue to piece together the timeline that led Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to hold off on securing the plant against its worst-case tsunami scenario.
Despite TEPCO staff being assigned to calculate the extent of the tsunami threat, their findings were ignored. Top TEPCO officials are now fighting criminal negligence charges for allegedly neglecting tsunami prevention initiatives.
Experts say the impact of the devastating tsunami that struck on March 11, 2011, triggering the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, could have been prevented if sufficient countermeasures were taken. The lengthy criminal trial finished its 32nd session in late October, revealing contradictions in the managerial awareness of the long-term tsunami risks and a controversial shift in the company attitude toward installing appropriate measures.
Former CEO Tsunehisa Katsumata, 78, and former Executive Vice Presidents Sakae Muto, 68, and Ichiro Takekuro, 72, were indicted two years ago on charges of professional negligence resulting in death. All three have pleaded not guilty based on the uncertainty of predicting an “unthinkable” earthquake, which could occur once every thousand years.
Muto bowed his head in front of the judge and offered an apology to those who lost their lives, their families, and those forced to evacuate. From the outset, his initial apology seemed like an admission of responsibility. But it didn’t take long for Muto to maintain his innocence, saying he didn’t recall being briefed on a destructive earthquake or the need for new safety steps.
However, the cross-examination of witnesses at previous court sessions exposed holes in Muta’s pre-hearing affidavit and his statements made in court. TEPCO official Kazuhiko Yamashita, in charge of anti-earthquake measures at the time, gave evidence saying all three officials joined an imperial court meeting in February 2008, where they acknowledged the prediction of a 7.7-meter high tsunami and instructed the building of a 10-meter seawall. The meeting is said to have stressed that new tsunami measures were needed at Fukushima Nuclear Plant based on the long-term evaluation of the country and a hard copy of the report was also distributed to officials. However, in Muto’s affidavit, he originally claimed there was “absolutely no report” and vehemently denied tsunami countermeasures for Fukushima Nuclear Plant were a topic of discussion in the meeting,
An unexpected policy shift away from tsunami preparedness materialized when the TEPCO civil engineering team recalculated the tsunami height risk to 15.7 meters. The team reported the findings to Muto in June the same year. Rather than accelerating earthquake resistance plans, however, as construction proposals ballooned from original estimates and with the risk of unwanted attention on the nuclear power plant’s safety prospects, Yamashita says he was given orders by Muto to scrap the plans. Muto then consulted the Japan Society of Civil Engineers to reassess the findings for a second opinion.
Muto explained in court that he was uncertain of the report’s credibility and that it was natural to gather information on the many aspects he couldn’t make sense of. He repeatedly denied that the move indicated a desire to postpone new safety measures but said it stemmed from lack of alternatives. According to Muto, he didn’t have authority to make decisions over the company in that way.
The Great Eastern Earthquake of March 2011 knocked out power supplies and damaged back up generators, causing vital cooling systems at the nuclear plan to fail. Three reactor cores overheated and began to leak radiation. Seven years on, some 40,000 residents who were forced to flee their homes in Fukushima prefecture are still unable to return to their houses, which have fallen to ruin in the no-go zone. The ongoing trial, propelled largely by a group of Fukushima plaintiffs, offers a small chance at gaining closure and much needed background into the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Tsunami Couldn’t Have Been Foreseen, Says Fukushima Plant Operator’s Ex-Chairman

1045659613.jpg
30.10.2018
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Former chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Tsunehisa Katsumata said in court on Tuesday that a devastating tsunami that led to the 2011 accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant could not have been predicted, NHK reported.
During the hearing, the former TEPCO chairman said that he was briefed in 2009 on the possibility of a tsunami by a TEPCO official who sounded very skeptical, adding that he believed in the quality of work of the Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division and did not doubt existing safety measures, the NHK broadcaster reported.
Katsumata and ex-vice presidents of TEPCO Ichiro Takekuro and Sakae Muto were accused of professional negligence resulting in death and injury, but all of them denied the charges.
The prosecutors argued that the top management was fully responsible for ensuring security at the nuclear plant, the broadcaster added.
The court hearings will proceed with statements by the families of those whose deaths are linked to the nuclear accident.
In March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude offshore earthquake triggered a 46-foot tsunami that led to the accident and shutdown of the plant. The accident is considered to be the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Tepco apologizes over inappropriate hashtag for image of crippled Fukushima plant

n-tepco-a-20181031.jpg
A post from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s official Twitter account, seen here, attracted criticism for insensitivity over the Fukushima nuclear disaster
 
Oct 30, 2018
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. has apologized after sharing on social media an image from inside its crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant together with a hashtag that means “fascination with factories.”
After the post attracted a lot of negative attention on the power company’s official Twitter and Instagram accounts, a Tepco official said Monday it had been intended to “give a better understanding to the younger generation” of its operations.
But the firm admitted that its social media post had “lacked consideration.”
The term employed in the hashtag, kōjōmoe, has come into use in recent years with a rise in the number of people enjoying views of factories and plants.
However, the utility’s post, which said “Unit4 Spent Fuel Pool at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station” along with the hashtag, drew a rush of comments such as “Don’t you feel sorry for the nuclear accident?” and “Don’t make a fool of victims” affected by the reactor core meltdowns at the power station following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
It is not the first time that the major power company has been rebuked for being insensitive to public feelings toward the Fukushima crisis, which was the most severe since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Earlier this year, Tepco halted its sale of file folders with photos showing the current conditions of the Fukushima No. 1 complex, following public criticism.
The folders, offered in a set of three for ¥300, had pictures of the nuclear complex’s No. 1 to No. 4 reactors.
The utility had sold them at two convenience stores on the premises of the complex after people involved in work to scrap the plant asked the utility to sell souvenirs.

Draft bill omits state burden for nuclear accident compensation

okuma.jpg
The central part of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, is deserted after it was designated a difficult-to-return zone following the 2011 accident at the nearby Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
October 24, 2018
After more than three years of discussions, the nuclear damage compensation law will be left largely intact, including unlimited redress from utilities for accidents at their nuclear plants and vagueness about the government’s responsibility.
Only minor changes will be made to the law, such as measures to accelerate provisional payments to victims of nuclear accidents.
Science ministry officials on Oct. 23 presented a draft of proposed legislation to revise the law at a committee meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The legislation is expected to be submitted to the extraordinary Diet session that began on Oct. 24.
An advisory committee on the nuclear damage compensation system within the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) had been discussing possible revisions since 2015 in part because of the huge compensation amount–now more than 8 trillion yen ($71 billion)–facing Tokyo Electric Power Co. over the 2011 accident at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Electric power companies had asked for some sort of limit in the law, given the situation at TEPCO.
One suggestion was to more clearly delineate the responsibility of the central government and the utilities for compensating victims of nuclear disasters.
A committee member who once worked in Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) supported setting a limit, saying the companies would face a serious management problem if they are unable to predict potential compensation risks.
In return, the central government would shoulder the compensation amount above a certain limit, the member proposed.
However, the committee could not reach an agreement, and no change was made to the provision that sets unlimited compensation responsibility on the part of the utilities.
Utilities will have to continue setting aside a maximum 120 billion yen for each nuclear plant it operates as insurance for a major accident.
Although the insurance amount would appear to be a sort of limit on the electric power companies, the utilities must also contribute to the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. (NDF), which provides assistance when compensation demands concerning a single nuclear plant exceed 120 billion yen.
The central government also contributes funds to the NDF.
Calls arose to raise the insurance limit for electric power companies beyond 120 billion yen. However, the insurance industry would not agree to any higher amount, and no change was made in the limit.
Some committee members brought up the topic of whether the central government’s responsibility for compensation should be included in a legal revision.
The electric power industry said the central government should shoulder a greater portion of the compensation responsibility for nuclear accidents because it has continued to define nuclear energy as an important base-load energy source.
Members of the advisory committee brushed aside that suggestion, saying the public would never be convinced in light of the Fukushima accident and the various shortcomings revealed about TEPCO’s management.
Other members cited the possibility that utilities would cut back on safety investment if they knew the central government would pay for compensation.
Discussions about the central government’s responsibility never did get off the ground in the advisory committee, even though a number of recent court verdicts in civil lawsuits have awarded compensation while clearly stating the central government’s responsibility for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The minor change to the law to allow electric power companies to more quickly begin provisional payments of compensation was proposed to address problems that arose after the Fukushima accident.
TEPCO took about six weeks to begin provisional payments to disaster victims. The delay, according to TEPCO, was because the utility had no idea about the maximum amount of compensation it would have to pay.
Under the proposed change, the central government will provide loans to utilities so they can immediately begin making provisional payments. Utilities will be obligated to compile guidelines that define the procedures for applying for compensation and making those guidelines widely known.
(This article was compiled from reports by Yusuke Ogawa and Senior Staff Writer Noriyoshi Ohtsuki.)

France presents vitrification process for Fukushima

Same insane mentality that came up with NPPs and generating nuclear waste wsants vitrification which will melt long before the nuke waste becomes chemically stable. Amazing how self/other destructive some people are and what they’re willing to risk doing to other people and life forms:
23 October 2018
A project to demonstrate the use of innovative radioactive waste vitrification technology, developed in France, at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan has been under way for the past six months.
In-can-vitrification-protoype-(CEA)
An in-can prototype developed at CEA Marcoule
Since 27 April, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Orano and ANADEC have been evaluating the potential of using the “in-can” vitrification process developed by CEA to treat waste from water treatment operations at Fukushima Daiichi. Such wastes from these operations include contaminated sludge and mineral adsorbents. Vitrification is the process for immobilising high-level radioactive waste in glass.
CEA’s Marcoule laboratory developed a compact in-can vitrification process in which the melting pot is disposable and serves as the primary canister for the solidified glass.
The project to demonstrate the use of the technology at Fukushima Daiichi comprises two main parts.
The first is to develop and study durable waste form conditioning matrix formulations. Tests on a laboratory-scale (100 grams), on a bench-scale (1 kilogram) and near-industrial scale (100kg) will be carried out in France at the CEA Marcoule laboratories.
The second part of the project is to conduct feasibility studies for process implementation, operation and maintenance principles and waste disposal. These studies will be led by Orano.
In a joint statement Orano and CEA said that laboratory-scale test and part of the bench-scale tests have already been “performed with success”. Near-industrial scale tests, they said, are under way. The feasibility studies will then be carried out, with the complete results expected to be delivered by the end of March 2019.
For the project, “technical and commercial interfaces” in Japan are being provided by ANADEC. This a joint venture set up in 2014 between Orano and Japanese nuclear power plant maintenance and radioactive material management company ATOX.
Multiple facilities including a multi-nuclide removal facility – the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) – are used to treat the contaminated water accumulated at Fukushima Daiichi plant. After the concentration of caesium and strontium contained in the contaminated water is reduced, the ALPS system eventually removes most of the radioactive materials except tritium. The treatment of all highly contaminated water which contained strontium, except residual water in the bottom of the storage tanks, was completed in May 2015. This has helped reduce the risks attributed to contaminated water, such as an increase in radiation dose on the premises or contaminated water leaking from the storage tanks. The water from which caesium and strontium have been already reduced will require additional treatment by ALPS for further risk reduction.

Putting tsunami countermeasures on hold at Fukushima nuke plant ‘natural’: ex-TEPCO VP

 jmm
Ichiro Takekuro, a former vice president at Tokyo Electric Power Co., enters the Tokyo District Court in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward in this June 30, 2017
October 20, 2018
TOKYO — A former vice president at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) told a court here on Oct. 19 that it was “natural” for the utility to put tsunami countermeasures at the plant on hold while it consulted experts.
Ichiro Takekuro, 72, is under indictment on charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury over the nuclear disaster that broke out after tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011. His testimony at the Tokyo District Court backed fellow defendant Sakae Muto, 68, who made the decision on the tsunami countermeasures.
TEPCO estimated in March 2008 that tsunami waves up to 15.7 meters high could hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, based on a long-term evaluation made by the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion in 2002. While being aware of the company’s estimate, Muto put tsunami countermeasures on hold in July 2008 and instructed subordinates to ask experts to evaluate the reliability of the long-term evaluation.
A key point of contention in the trial is whether the Muto’s decision constituted “postponement” of countermeasures.
 jjhlkjlmlm.jpg
Sakae Muto, a former vice president at Tokyo Electric Power Co., enters the Tokyo District Court in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward in this June 30, 2017
 
Muto told earlier court hearings that he had informed Takekuro in August 2008 of the company’s maximum tsunami height estimate. However, Takekuro told the Oct. 19 hearing that he had no recollection of that, adding that he heard the estimate from another subordinate sometime in April or May 2009.
With regard to the government’s long-term evaluation, Takekuro said, “I heard that it wasn’t supported by specific proof. I thought thorough discussion was necessary if there were unclear factors,” again justifying Muto’s decision.
As to TEPCO’s estimation that 15.7-meter tsunami waves could hit the power station, Takekuro said he “didn’t feel any sense of urgency.”
Takekuro is standing trial along with Muto and former TEPCO President Tsunehisa Katsumata, 78, over the nuclear crisis.
Prosecutors had abandoned indicting the three. However, court-appointed lawyers indicted them after a prosecution inquest panel deemed twice that they deserved to stand trial.