Trouble-hit nuclear reactor in southwestern Japan resumes operations

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In this Nov. 6, 2016 file photo, from left, the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant are seen from a Mainichi helicopter in Saga Prefecture
 
 
June 16, 2018
FUKUOKA (Kyodo) — A nuclear reactor at a trouble-hit complex in southwestern Japan restarted operations Saturday for the first time in more than six and a half years amid lingering safety concerns.
The No. 4 unit at the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture is the fourth reactor of operator Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s to go back online and the ninth nationwide under stricter safety rules implemented after the Fukushima crisis in 2011. The utility aims to generate and supply electricity from Wednesday and start commercial operations in mid-July.
The restart sparked local protests, with around 100 people gathering in front of the plant.
Hajime Aoki, an 80-year-old farmer living about 6 kilometers away from the plant, said, “Everyone knows that nuclear plants are dangerous. If I think about the Fukushima nuclear accident, I certainly cannot agree to this.”
Recognizing the opposition of the local residents, Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi promised to deal with the issue seriously, while Michiaki Uriu, president of Kyushu Electric, separately said the plant’s operation will proceed by taking into account “safety as a top priority.”
At the same time, there were some residents who said that while they were worried about plant safety, they also saw the economic benefits to having such plants in the area.
The restart comes after the Genkai complex has been mired in troubles. In May, pumps installed to control the circulation of cooling water at the No. 4 unit suffered malfunctions, following a steam leak from a pipe at the No. 3 reactor just a week after it was reactivated in March.
Kyushu Electric estimates cost savings of 11 billion yen ($100 million) per month due to the restarts of the No. 3-4 units at Genkai, as this will reduce its reliance on thermal power generation.
The No. 4 unit, which began undergoing a regular checkup in December 2011, won approval for restart by the Nuclear Regulation Authority in January 2017 under the tougher rules implemented after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi complex, triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
Some local residents opposed to the Genkai plant’s operation question the validity of safety standards and cite the risk of volcanic eruptions in the region. The Saga District Court rejected in March a request for an injunction to suspend the plant’s restart.
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Reactor at Saga’s Genkai nuclear plant back online after seven-year hiatus

To have a nuclear plant running in an earthquake prone area is equivalent already to a death wish. To have that nuclear plant running on MOX is equivalent to a double death wish.
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A protester holds up a sign saying ‘Let’s create a society without nuclear power plants!’ in front of the Genkai plant in Genkai, Saga Prefecture, on Friday as its No. 3 reactor was put back online.
 
SAGA – A nuclear reactor at the Genkai power plant in Saga Prefecture resumed operation Friday for the first time in over seven years, despite lingering concerns from residents about evacuation plans from nearby islets in the event of a serious accident.
 
Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s No. 3 unit at the plant was halted for a regular inspection in December 2010, three months before a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered a crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
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The reactor cleared a safety screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority in January 2017 under stricter, post-Fukushima crisis regulations and was later approved for reactivation by the Genkai Municipal Government and Saga Prefectural Government. It became the seventh reactor in the nation to restart under the tougher regulations.
 
The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which views nuclear power as an “important base-load power source,” is promoting the restart of reactors considered safe by the regulator.
 
Local residents, particularly those living on 17 islands within 30 kilometers of the Genkai plant, are concerned about how to evacuate in the event of an accident, as there are no bridges connecting the islets with the main island of Kyushu.
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Industry minister Hiroshige Seko welcomed the resumption saying, “(The restart) holds significance from the point of promoting so-called pluthermal power generation and recycling nuclear fuel.”
 
The Genkai plant’s No. 3 reactor generates power using mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel, which is created from plutonium and uranium extracted from spent fuel.
 
Early Friday, a group of about 100 citizens gathered in front of the Genkai plant, protesting against the resumption and calling for the shutdown of all nuclear plants in Japan.
 
Chuji Nakayama, a 70-year-old man who lives on Iki Island in Nagasaki Prefecture, within a roughly 30-km radius of the plant, expressed anger, saying, “How can islanders escape if an accident occurs?”
 
Kenichi Arakawa, the deputy chief of an anti-nuclear group who lives in Munakata, Fukuoka Prefecture, said, “An accident could deprive nearby residents of everything in their lives. We should not operate a nuclear plant that threatens our lives.”
 
In contrast, a 70-year-old man from the town of Genkai said, “The town will finally become vibrant again because the nuclear plant helped set up roads and create jobs while bringing in more people.”
 
Kyushu Electric plans to start commercial operation of the No. 3 unit in late April. It is the third reactor reactivated by the utility, following the Nos. 1 and 2 units at the Sendai complex in Kagoshima Prefecture, which came back online in 2015.
 
The operator also plans to restart the No. 4 unit at the Genkai plant in May, after that unit passed an NRA safety assessment in January 2017.
 
Nuclear reactor in southwestern Japan back online after 7-yr hiatus

Court rejects call to suspend nuclear reactors in southwestern Japan

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The No. 3 (right) and 4 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai Nuclear Power Plant are seen in Genkai, Saga Prefecture, on March 13, 2018.
 
SAGA, Japan (Kyodo) — A district court in southwestern Japan on Tuesday rejected local residents’ request to suspend the planned restart of nuclear reactors in Saga Prefecture over safety concerns.
 
Some 70 people sought an injunction to halt the restart of the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Genkai nuclear power plant of Kyushu Electric Power Co., scheduled for Friday and May, respectively, questioning safety standards and citing the risks of a volcanic eruption in the region.
 
But the Saga District Court’s Presiding Judge Takeshi Tachikawa said the utility’s safety measures are “reasonable” and that the court found “no specific risk of (the reactors) causing serious damage.”
 
The decision was in sharp contrast with a Hiroshima High Court ruling in December to halt the planned restart of a reactor of Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant on the grounds of a possible eruption of Mt. Aso.
 
As the 1,592-meter volcano is located some 130 kilometers from the Ikata plant, almost the same distance as from the Genkai plant, attention was on how the Saga court would evaluate the risk.
 
During the trial, the plaintiffs from Saga, Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Yamaguchi prefectures expressed doubt about the credibility of the new safety standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, saying they were compiled when the Fukushima crisis had yet to be resolved.
 
The plaintiffs also claimed that there is no measure to respond to a catastrophic volcanic eruption which cannot be forecasted.
Kyushu Electric argued it has taken safety steps and that there is no imminent danger of a serious accident.
 
In June last year, Judge Tachikawa dismissed a similar request from a different group of local residents for an injunction to stop the restart of the two Genkai plant reactors.
 
Separate from the lawsuits seeking injunctions, some 10,000 people in Japan and abroad have filed a suit demanding suspension of the Genkai reactors.
 

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

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* 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/

Kyushu Electric plans to restart Genkai No. 4 reactor in March

genkai npp.jpgKyushu Electric Power Co. aims to bring the No. 4 unit (left) at its Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture back online in early March.

 

SAGA – Kyushu Electric Power Co. on Friday has asked the Nuclear Regulation Authority to perform pre-operation inspections for the No. 4 reactor at the Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture, telling the regulator it aims to put the reactor back online in early March.

Pre-use checks are the last procedure on the list for restarting a nuclear reactor.

Kyushu Electric plans to load 193 fuel assemblies into the reactor in February. After reactivating it in early March, the utility plans to start commercial operations in April.

If things work out as planned, the No. 4 reactor will be active for the first time since December 2011, when it was halted it for routine checkups.

In January this year, the NRA concluded that the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the plant in the town of Genkai meet the tougher safety standards introduced in July 2013 after the triple core meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 plant in Fukushima Prefecture in March 2011.

The two reactors have passed all screenings required for reactivation. The Saga prefectural and Genkai municipal governments have already approved the restarts.

The No. 3 reactor is currently undergoing pre-use inspections and is expected to go back online in early January.

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Court dismisses request to halt restart of Saga reactors

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People stage a protest rally in front of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s office in the city of Saga on Tuesday after a district court rejected an injunction request to halt the restart of two reactors at the utility’s Genkai power plant.

 

SAGA – A district court on Tuesday dismissed a request from about 230 local residents for an injunction to stop the restart of two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture over safety concerns.

The Saga District Court handed down the ruling concerning reactors 3 and 4 at the complex as the utility prepares for their restart this summer or later, having secured the necessary consent of the governor of Saga and the mayor of Genkai. The town hosts the four-reactor power station.

Reactors 3 and 4 have cleared Nuclear Regulation Authority screenings that were based on safety standards revamped after the Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In Tuesday’s decision, presiding Judge Takeshi Tachikawa said the new safety standards are “reasonable.” The court has found no issues with earthquake resistance or steps taken against serious accidents and does not see any specific danger of radiation exposure at the plant, he added.

The focus of the lawsuit, filed by the residents in July 2011, was whether the operator has adequate measures in place against earthquakes. The plaintiffs argued that serious accidents could occur due to degradation in piping.

The court is supposed to help the weak, but the ruling is based on economics and politics,” said Hatsumi Ishimaru, 65, who leads the group of residents. “We will continue to fight until we stop the nuclear plant.”

The plaintiffs said they will immediately appeal the decision to the Fukuoka High Court.

Kyushu Electric said in a statement it considers the latest decision “appropriate” and will continue to try to ensure safety at the plant.

The ruling may inject momentum into the government’s policy to restart nuclear plants that have fulfilled the new safety standards.

While declining to comment on the court decision itself, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government respects the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s judgment that the reactors meet the new safety standards.

Tuesday’s ruling followed a series of court decisions rejecting similar suits seeking to halt the operations of nuclear power plants.

In March, the Osaka High Court overturned a lower court order to halt two nuclear reactors at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture, while in the same month the Hiroshima District Court dismissed a request by local residents to order the halt of a nuclear reactor that was restarted last year at the Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture.

Of the more than 40 commercial reactors nationwide, five are currently in operation. At the Genkai plant, the No. 1 unit is set to be decommissioned due to aging.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/13/national/crime-legal/court-nixes-request-halt-restart-saga-reactors/#.WUDy_jekLrc

Mothers who fled Fukushima fallout raise voices against Genkai plant restart in Saga

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Mothers who fled to the Itoshima, Fukuoka Prefecture, to escape radiation spewed by the March 2011 core meltdowns in Fukushima Prefecture say they are concerned about the safety of the Genkai nuclear plant in neighboring Saga Prefecture.

SAGA – A group of mothers who evacuated from the Kanto region to Fukuoka Prefecture after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis is ramping up protests against efforts to restart the Genkai nuclear plant in neighboring Saga.

After meeting with Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko on Saturday, Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi is expected to approve the restart of two reactors in the town of Genkai as early as Monday.

Earlier this month, four of the moms gathered for a meeting in Itoshima in Fukuoka and discussed plans to send the city a document and an inquiry conveying their opposition.

As they racked their brains to deliver effective expressions, the meeting lasted for around six hours until their children returned home from school.

Three of the moms moved to Itoshima after becoming worried their children would be adversely affected by exposure to the fallout spewed by the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in Fukushima Prefecture in March 2011. The plant is run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

I wanted to go far away for the sake of my unborn child,” said 39-year-old Fumiyo Endo, the leader of the group.

But the place she relocated to was within 30 km of the Genkai plant run by Kyushu Electric Power Co.

In March, she attended a meeting of residents to get explanations about the restart but was concerned whether safety would be ensured by sheltering indoors as instructed should an accident occur.

She also felt angry after hearing a utility official say that restarting the plant is necessary “for a stable supply of power.” She said it sounded as if the utility did not care about human lives.

But she did not decide to leave Itoshima because she wanted to keep living there, to stay close to the sea and mountains.

Another member of the group said it was important to keep resisting.

It is significant to protest against nuclear plants near the plant sites,” said photographer Nonoko Kameyama, 40.

Kameyama, a mother of three, has published a photo book of mothers hoping to bring about a society without nuclear power plants.

A day after attending the residents’ meeting, Endo and other members called the Saga Prefectural Government to urge it to reject the restart.

When asked by a prefectural official during the call what the name of their group was, they came up with an impromptu title: “Mothers Who Want to Save Children’s Lives.” Dozens of people have recently joined in response to its Facebook post.

The group has submitted petitions to Saga Gov. Yamaguchi and Itoshima Mayor Yuji Tsukigata.

Resuming operations only makes residents feel unsettled and we cannot see a bright future,” said Endo. “We want our leaders to understand such feelings.”

Yamaguchi is expected to approve the Genkai restart as early as Monday, after meeting with METI chief Seko on Saturday.

The central government has shown a strong determination to work on nuclear energy policy in a responsible manner,” Yamaguchi said Saturday, adding he wants to convey his decision “as early as possible.”

The government is pushing for reactor restarts despite the triple core meltdown at Fukushima No. 1, saying nuclear energy is Japan’s key energy source.

In January, reactor Nos. 3 and 4 at the Genkai plant passed the tougher safety requirements introduced in the wake of the Fukushima crisis. On Feb. 24, a majority of the Genkai Municipal Assembly voted in favor of restarting the plant.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/23/national/moms-fled-fukushima-fallout-raise-pressure-genkai-plant-restart-saga/