Fukui disaster drill for simultaneous atomic accidents ends

Like the one they did in 2011???
People are helped into a Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter as part a two-day evacuation drill for multiple nuclear accidents in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, on Saturday.
Aug 26, 2018
FUKUI – A nuclear disaster drill for simultaneous accidents at the Oi and Takahama nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture ended Sunday after mobilizing 21,000 people.
It was the first disaster response drill designed for serious simultaneous accidents at multiple plants since the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011.
The drill involved about 21,000 people including residents and officials from the Cabinet Office, the Nuclear Regulation Authority and municipal governments.
Sunday’s exercise focused on evacuating residents from Fukui and surrounding prefectures. It also involved personnel aboard the Maritime Self-Defense Force minesweeper tender Bungo, which was deployed to provide first aid to “injured” participants who were ferried there by helicopter.
In the town of Takahama, 20 residents were flown to Osaka on a Ground Self-Defense Force CH-47J chopper and bused to Sanda in Hyogo on the assumption that a evacuation route was cut off by a landslide.
Preparations involving the Oi and Takahama plants, both managed by Kansai Electric Power Co., are deemed necessary as they are just 13.5 km away from each other.
The exercise assumed radioactive substances were released after an earthquake in northern Kyoto knocked out the cooling systems of the two plants’ reactors.
As part of the drill, task forces created at the two plants’ off-site emergency response centers were integrated into Oi’s task force.
Katsunori Yamamoto, 64, who runs a nursing home 5 km from the Takahama plant, played one of his residents. He was evacuated to Tsuruga by a wheelchair-accessible van driven by a Kansai Electric worker.
“I want to assess risks to our nursing home residents,” he said.

Oi nuclear plant ruling reads like it was rendered pre-Fukushima

A plaintiff and a lawyer hold signs on July 4 criticizing a ruling by the Nagoya High Court’s Kanazawa branch that nullified an injunction to halt operations at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture.
July 18, 2018
The Nagoya High Court’s Kanazawa branch declared that the nation, having learned its lesson from the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011, will not make the same mistakes again.
We have our doubts.
The July 4 ruling overturned the Fukui District Court’s decision of four years ago in favor of the plaintiffs, who sought an injunction against Kansai Electric Power Co. to suspend operations of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture.
The plaintiffs have decided against taking their case to the Supreme Court, which will finalize the high court ruling.
The Fukui District Court’s decision to halt operations of the Oi reactors was based on its own study of whether the reactors posed “risks of causing grave situations similar to the Fukushima accident.”
Its main focus was not to judge whether the reactors met the new safety regulations established by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which was set up after the Fukushima disaster.
In contrast, the high court said it would be “only proper for a court to respect (the NRA regulations)” as they were “established based on the latest scientific and technological expertise of specialists from many fields.”
The court said there was nothing unreasonable in the NRA judgment that the Oi reactors met the new safety regulations. It concluded that the risks posed by the reactors were being controlled to a negligible level by socially accepted standards.
But what lessons has the Fukushima disaster taught us? Don’t they boil down to the fact that we believed in many experts who assured us of the safety of nuclear reactors, only to realize that an “unexpected” disaster could and did occur, causing tremendous damage we have yet to recover from.
The high court ruling read like something from pre-Fukushima days. We could not help feeling the same way every time we come across the view that the nation has more or less learned all the lessons it needed to learn from Fukushima.
One of the hardest lessons we learned–which the high court did not really address–is the sheer difficulty of evacuating citizens safely after a serious accident.
After the Fukushima disaster, local governments within 30 kilometers of nuclear power plants came to be required to establish evacuation plans for residents.
A reactor restart should be decided only after third-party experts determine whether the evacuation plan is appropriate and realistic enough.
This is not how things are being done, however.
The NRA specializes solely in examining the safety of plant facilities and equipment from a technological aspect. The administration merely reiterates that reactors that have passed the NRA’s safety tests should be allowed to restart.
There is a huge procedural flaw here, in that all such reactors are back online once the host local governments give the green light.
The high court did say that ending nuclear power generation is an available option. But it went on to state, “The final decision is not for the judiciary to make. It should be based on a political judgment to be left to the legislature or the administration.”
How have the Diet and the government received the high court ruling?
If they have truly learned lessons from Fukushima, their obvious responsibility should be to clearly present a policy to close nuclear plants and critically examine each case for a reactor restart, taking the evacuation plan set by the local government into account.

Oi nuclear Plant ‘Safe’ to Operate

A plaintiff and a lawyer hold signs on July 4 criticizing a ruling by the Nagoya High Court’s Kanazawa branch that nullified an injunction intended to halt operations at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture.

Court overturns injunction, says Oi nuclear plant safe to operate

KANAZAWA–A high court branch here overturned a lower court order to halt operations of two reactors at a nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, saying it poses no tangible danger to residents there.
“The danger is within negligible levels in light of social norms,” Presiding Judge Masayuki Naito of the Nagoya High Court’s Kanazawa branch said on July 4, nullifying an injunction against Kansai Electric Power Co., operator of the Oi nuclear plant.
Plaintiffs sought the injunction to block the restarts of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the plant in Oi. They argued that dangers from the plant violated their right to protect their lives and sustain their livelihood.
The Fukui District Court sided with the plaintiffs in 2014, saying the plant was not thoroughly prepared to withstand a powerful earthquake.
The district court focused more on whether a tangible danger existed that could result in a serious accident similar to the one that hit Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011, not on the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s decision to clear the Oi reactors for operations.
However, the high court said its decision was based on whether the NRA’s new safety regulations were appropriate, and whether the watchdog’s assessment that the two Oi reactors passed the safety regulations was reasonable.
The stricter regulations took effect in July 2013 based on lessons learned from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“They were established by incorporating the latest scientific and technological expertise,” the high court said of the new standards.
The court supported both the NRA’s regulations and its decision to clear the No. 3 and 4 reactors as meeting the requirements.
Kunihiko Shimazaki, a seismologist and a former NRA member, raised doubts about the safety of the plant as a witness in the court proceedings.
He said the NRA’s current formula for calculating the scope of sway in an earthquake may have underestimated the expected maximum shaking from a powerful earthquake that could strike the plant.
The high court rejected Shimazaki’s argument.
“The extent of the maximum shaking was not underestimated because (the calculations) used an active geological fault zone larger than it should be in reality to provide an extra safety cushion,” the judge said.
The court also supported the NRA’s decision that the Oi reactors meet the new regulations concerning measures against tsunami and volcanic eruptions.
As for evaluating the soundness of nuclear power generation, the court said that is not its role.
“It will be possible to abolish and ban the operation of nuclear power plants in light of the grave consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but judging on the issue goes beyond the jurisdiction of the judiciary,” the court said. “(The nuclear issue) should be widely debated by the public and left to a political judgment.”

No. 4 reactor at Oi nuclear plant restarted after nearly five years offline

10 may 2018 oi restart.jpg
Oi nuclear power plant’s No. 4 reactor (far left) in Fukui Prefecture is seen on Wednesday before being restarted by Kansai Electric Power Co.
May 10, 2018
OI, FUKUI PREF. – Kansai Electric Power Co.’s No. 4 reactor at its Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture inched closer toward running at full capacity Thursday, four years and eight months after operations were suspended.
The reactor has reached criticality, its nuclear fission chain reaction having reached a self-sustaining state, and is set to begin power generation and transmission Friday. It is projected to reach full capacity early next week.
The reactor, which was halted in September 2013 for regular checkups, is the eighth to have been reactivated under the country’s new safety standards for nuclear plants. The new standards were introduced in the wake of the March 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s tsunami-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Kansai Electric plans to put the No. 4 reactor into commercial mode in early June and cut its electricity prices this summer.
Commercial operations of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi plant are projected to help reduce the firm’s fuel costs by about ¥120 billion a year. The No. 3 unit was brought back online in March this year and entered commercial mode in April.
The utility lowered its electricity rates for households by 3.15 percent on average in August 2017, after it resumed commercial operations of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at its Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture.
As each of the two Oi reactors has a capacity of 1.18 million kilowatts — larger than the 870,000 kilowatt capacity of each of the Takahama reactors — the forthcoming rate cut may be more significant than the previous one and could bring the company’s electricity prices down to levels from before the Fukushima nuclear accident, industry observers said.
Kansai Electric owns 11 reactors — four each at the Oi and Takahama plants, and three at the Mihama plant, also in Fukui Prefecture.
Besides the four currently in operation, the Mihama No. 1 and No. 2 units and the Oi No. 1 and No. 2 units are set to be decommissioned. The Mihama No. 3 unit and the Takahama No. 1 and No. 2 units are undergoing work to allow them to continue to operate after reaching 40 years of service.
With the Oi and Takahama plants located as little as 13.5 kilometers from each other, the plant operator has been urged to draw up measures that should be taken in case accidents occur at the same time at the two facilities.
This summer the government plans to carry out a comprehensive anti-disaster drill assuming simultaneous accidents.

Loading of fuel assemblies begins at Oi plant’s No. 4 reactor

The No. 4 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture is due to be restarted in mid-May.
Kansai Electric Power Co. has started work to load nuclear fuel into reactor 4 at its Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture.
The operation, which started Sunday, to place 193 uranium fuel assemblies in the reactor is to be completed by Wednesday. Kansai Electric aims to restart the reactor sometime in mid-May.
According to the company, the fuel-loading work started at 10 a.m. using a crane and containers. The operation will continue around the clock.
Reactors 3 and 4 at the Oi plant cleared Nuclear Regulation Authority screenings last year under strict new standards introduced after the March 2011 crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Preparations have been underway to bring the Oi facility’s reactor 3, which was reactivated March 14, into commercial operations mode. Unless any problems are detected in an NRA inspection, the reactor will start commercial operations as early as Tuesday.

Coastal nuclear reactor resumes operations, joins 2 units nearby

Oi march 14 2018 n3 restart.jpg
The No. 1 to No. 4 reactors (from top to bottom) at the Oi Nuclear Power Plant are seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter, in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, on March 14, 2018.
March 14, 2018
FUKUI, Japan (Kyodo) — Kansai Electric Power Co. restarted Wednesday a reactor at its Oi plant on the Sea of Japan coast, located close to two other units already online, amid lingering safety concerns following the Fukushima disaster.
It is the first time that multiple nuclear reactors within the same vicinity have been in operation since the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The No. 3 reactor at the Oi plant is a mere 14 kilometers from the No. 3 and 4 units at the Takahama plant, all in the central Japan prefecture of Fukui.
Local residents are worried about the lack of an effective evacuation plan in the event accidents hit both the Takahama and Oi complexes at the same time.
The No. 3 Oi unit is the sixth reactor to resume operations in Japan after clearing stricter safety regulations implemented in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, seeing nuclear power as an “important base-load power source,” is promoting the restart of nuclear reactors considered safe by regulators.
Under the current national energy policy, the government plans to generate between 20 and 22 percent of total electricity using nuclear power in fiscal 2030.
Kansai Electric aims to start commercial operations of the No. 3 Oi reactor in early April. The No. 4 reactor at the Oi plant is also expected to restart in May, having cleared the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety review along with the No. 3 unit in May 2017.

No Fukui evac plan needed for simultaneous nuclear accidents: Cabinet documents

Government officials see no need to draft a new evacuation plan for the possibility of simultaneous nuclear accidents taking place at the Takahama (above) and Oi nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture.
FUKUI – The central government and the Fukui Prefectural Government have determined there is no need to craft a new evacuation plan in case of a twin nuclear accident there, Cabinet Office documents show.
In a meeting last month, state and prefectural officials confirmed that a simultaneous accidents at the Takahama and Oi nuclear power plants can be dealt with under the plants’ existing evacuation plans, which were compiled separately by each plant, said the documents, which were obtained Sunday.
The meeting involved officials from the Cabinet Office, the Fukui, Shiga and Kyoto prefectural governments, and Kansai Electric Power Co., which runs the atomic plants.
The consensus at the meeting was that simultaneous nuclear accidents can be dealt with under the existing plans because the evacuation sites don’t overlap, a Fukui prefectural official said.
The two nuclear plants are about 13.5 km apart. About 160,000 to 180,000 people live within 30 km from each of the plants.