Kansai to start loading fuel at Ohi 3 ahead of restart

The loading of fuel assemblies into the core of unit 3 at the Ohi nuclear power plant in Japan’s Fukui Prefecture will begin tomorrow, Kansai Electric Power Company announced. The utility plans to return both units 3 and 4 at the plant to commercial operation by mid-2018.
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Ohi units 3 and 4
Following the shutdown of all of Japan’s reactors after the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Ohi 3 and 4 were given permission to resume operation in August 2012. However, the two 1180 MWe pressurised water reactors (PWRs) were taken offline again for Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) inspections in September 2013.
 
Under Japan’s reactor restart process, plant operators are required to apply to the NRA for: permission to make changes to the reactor installation; approval of its construction plan to strengthen the plant; and, final safety inspections to ensure the unit meets new safety requirements. Operators are required to add certain safety-enhancing equipment within five years of receiving the NRA’s approval of a reactor engineering work programme.
 
Kansai submitted its construction plan application for Ohi 3 and 4 in July 2013. The NRA approved the plan for strengthening the units in August last year.
 
Following pre-operation inspections of the units to confirm that the safety countermeasure equipment complies with the approved construction plan at the plant, Kansai is now set to start loading fuel into unit 3 ahead of its restart. In November, the utility said it expected to restart the reactor around mid-March, with commercial operation scheduled from early-April.
 
The governor of Japan’s Fukui Prefecture approved the restart of Ohi units 3 and 4 in November. Unit 4 is also expected to be restarted in the coming months. Kansai earlier said it expects to refuel the reactor in mid-April, restart it around mid-May, with commercial operation expected to resume in early June.
 
In December, Kansai announced that it will not seek permission to restart Ohi units 1 and 2, which have been offline since July 2011 and December 2011, respectively. The company will now apply to decommission the two 1175 MWe PWRs, which are approaching 40 years old.
 
Of Japan’s 42 operable reactors, five have so far cleared inspections confirming they meet the new regulatory safety standards and have resumed operation. These are: Kyushu’s Sendai units 1 and 2; Shikoku’s Ikata unit 3; and Kansai’s Takahama units 3 and 4. Another 19 reactors have applied to restart.
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Fukui Governor OK to Restart Kansai Electric’s Oi Nuclear Plant Reactors N°3 & N°4

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The No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear plant in Oi, Fukui Prefecture
Fukui gives OK to restart of Kansai Electric’s Oi nuclear plant
FUKUI–Kansai Electric Power Co. has cleared all hurdles toward restarting two reactors at its Oi nuclear power plant early next year after gaining the consent of the prefectural governor here Nov. 27.
The utility plans to resume operations of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors in January and March, respectively.
“I have agreed to the restart after taking into account the position of the Oi town government and Fukui prefectural assembly, as well as the response by the central government and the operator of the plant concerning our request to have an interim storage site for spent nuclear fuel to be built outside the prefecture,” Governor Issei Nishikawa told reporters here the same day.
Nishikawa signed off on Kansai Electric’s request following similar moves by the town government of Oi, which hosts the Oi nuclear plant, the town assembly and the prefectural assembly.
In response to the governor’s request concerning the storage site, Shigeki Iwane, president of Kansai Electric, has already pledged to offer a proposed alternative site next year.
Industry minister Hiroshige Seko, too, vowed that the central government will be involved in drawing up the plan.
Nishikawa pushed for the construction of the interim storage facility outside the prefecture as a condition to agreeing to the restart of the Oi plant.
Five reactors are now operating in Japan after clearing new nuclear regulations established in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Two of the reactors are at Kansai Electric’s Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture.
The Fukui District Court, citing safety concerns, ordered a halt to the operations of Oi’s No. 3 and No. 4 reactors in May 2014.
But Kansai Electric appealed the decision and has since been gearing up to restart the units.
Fukui Gov. OKs restart of 2nd plant in prefecture
FUKUI, Japan (Kyodo) — Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa on Monday gave the go-ahead for Kansai Electric Power Co. to restart two reactors at its Oi nuclear power plant in the central Japan prefecture.
With Fukui also hosting Kansai Electric’s Takahama plant where two reactors have already resumed operation, the planned restart of the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Oi complex would make the prefecture the first since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster to have two active nuclear power plants.
The governor conveyed the decision to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko over the phone Monday.
The Osaka-based utility plans to bring the No. 3 reactor back online in mid-January and restart the No. 4 unit in mid-March.
The two reactors located on the Sea of Japan coast resumed operation in July 2012 under tentative nuclear safety standards set by the then-Democratic Party of Japan government while all other reactors in the country remained idle for checks following the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi complex.
The two reactors at the Oi complex went offline in September 2013 for regular checkups and cleared the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety review based on the country’s post-Fukushima screening standards in May.
The Fukui governor’s approval of the restart came after Kansai Electric President Shigeki Iwane said Thursday the utility would decide by the end of 2018 where to set up a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel.
The governor had been requesting the utility’s construction plan for the facility.
Speaking at a press conference, Nishikawa said he has come to the decision after “comprehensively considering opinions of our town and prefectural assemblies as well as responses of the government and the plant operator to an idea of setting up an interim storage facility outside our prefecture.”
The central government is yet to pick a final disposal site for nuclear waste, including spent fuel.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohihide Suga said in a separate press conference it is “extremely meaningful” that the plan to restart the two reactors in Oi has now received approval from the hosting prefecture’s governor.
Suga, however, declined to clarify the government’s stance on the opposition voiced by Taizo Mikazuki, governor of neighboring Shiga Prefecture.
About 20 antinuclear activists gathered in front of the Fukui prefectural government office Monday to show their opposition to the decision.
Jiku Miyazaki, a 73-year-old temple master in Oi, expressed concerns about whether residents can safely evacuate if a nuclear accident occurs.
“Under the current conditions, we won’t be able to evacuate,” Miyazaki said, citing troubles residents encounter when typhoons strike the region.
“We want them to take measures in view of the possibility of the two nuclear plants having accidents at the same time.”
Some residents hope for the economic benefits that an influx of plant workers could promise local businesses.
A man in his 50s said, “Our life here is depending on (the plant). As long as the governor judges it is safe, we need it to be restarted or we will be in trouble.”

Japan’s nuclear safety chief raps Tepco’s attitude on Fukushima No. 1 crisis, restarting other reactors

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The head of the Nuclear Regulation Authority told Tepco’s top management he questions their attitude toward decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the company’s ability to resume operating its other reactors.

I feel a sense of danger,” NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said during a special meeting Monday with the top management of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

Tanaka also said Tepco does “not seem to have the will to take the initiative” toward decommissioning the crippled nuclear power station that suffered three reactor meltdowns in March 2011.

Tepco Chairman Takashi Kawamura and President Tomoaki Kobayakawa attended the meeting. The authority felt it is necessary to hear from the top executives before it could make a decision on whether to approve Tepco’s plan to resume operation of reactors 6 and 7 at its massive Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture.

Tepco filed for a safety assessment of the two reactors in September 2013 to reactivate them, hoping to restore its financial condition as it needed massive funds to pay compensation related to the Fukushima disaster and to scrap the plant.

The NRA’s safety screening found that Tepco failed to report insufficient earthquake resistance for an emergency response center at the Niigata complex even though it knew about the insufficiency for three years.

In June, Tepco submitted to the watchdog its revised safety measures for the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex.

An operator lacking the will to take the initiative does not have the right to resume operation of nuclear reactors,” Tanaka said.

Tepco’s chairman responded by saying: “There are citizens who believe nuclear power is necessary. Operating reactors is our responsibility.”

But Kawamura also admitted there is room for only two more years’ worth of space in the tanks to accommodate the contaminated water building up at Fukushima No. 1.

During the meeting the NRA asked Tepco’s management about the company’s safety measures for the Niigata complex — the biggest nuclear power station in the world — as well as its safety awareness.

Tanaka said the NRA does consider Tepco’s responses at the meeting as sufficient and requested that it submit further explanations on its plan to decommission Fukushima No. 1 and resume operation of the two reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa.

Tanaka plans to conduct on-site checkups at the two reactors, saying, “Tepco, which caused the (Fukushima) accident, is not an ordinary operator.”

The two boiling water reactors at the Niigata plant are the same type that suffered core meltdowns at Fukushima No. 1, and no such reactors have cleared the authority’s safety screening since the 2011 crisis.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/10/national/japans-nuclear-safety-chief-raps-tepcos-attitude-fukushima-no-1-crisis-restarting-reactors/

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

Former chief of Fukushima probe criticizes reactor restarts

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The leader of the Diet investigation into the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster blasted the Abe administration’s policies on restarting reactors, noting that proper evacuation plans are not in place.

What are you going to do if a tsunami comes?” Kiyoshi Kurokawa, former chairman of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, said at a June 12 meeting of the Lower House ad hoc committee for research of nuclear power issues. “How can you go (there) to rescue people if cars cannot move forward on roads?”

Kurokawa was referring to the restarts of the No. 4 and No. 3 reactors of the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture in May and June.

The reactors cleared the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety standards that were established after the accident unfolded at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said these standards are the strictest in the world.

But Kurokawa said, “I cannot accept such rhetoric.”

Kurokawa, also a professor emeritus of medical science at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, was selected as chairman of a third-party advisory body established by the ad hoc committee in May.

He and other experts of the advisory body responded to questions at the meeting of the ad hoc committee on June 12.

Kurokawa also raised questions about the rules for personnel at the NRA, the country’s nuclear watchdog.

In January, Masaya Yasui, an official of the Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry, assumed the post of secretary-general of the NRA’s secretariat

Kurokawa said he was concerned that an official of the economy ministry, which has promoted nuclear power generation, is now at the top of the secretariat.

Previously, a “no-return rule” was in place that prohibited employees of the NRA secretariat from returning to the economy ministry.

However, the Abe administration changed the rule to allow them to return to the ministry at bureaus not directly related to nuclear power generation.

Regarding the change, Kurokawa said, “The most important thing is to protect the no-return rule.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201706130017.html

 

 

2 more nuclear reactors in Japan clear regulator’s safety review

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The No. 3 (right) and 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi Nuclear Power Plant are seen in November 2016.
 
TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Nuclear Regulation Authority formally confirmed Wednesday that two reactors on the Sea of Japan have met the country’s post-Fukushima safety standards, paving the way for their restart possibly this fall.
 
The authority gave its final approval to a screening report submitted by Kansai Electric Power Co. on the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture, bringing the number of reactors that have met the standards introduced after the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to 12 at six power stations.
 
For the restart, Kansai Electric still has to pass on-site pre-operational checks by the authority and obtain approval from the Fukui prefectural government.
 
The utility said in a statement it will “make utmost effort for the early restart of nuclear plants whose safety has been confirmed by gaining the understanding of local residents.”
 
Although the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been promoting the restart of nuclear reactors, most of them remain offline amid safety concerns among local residents following the Fukushima disaster triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
 
The nuclear safety watchdog gave the green light to the restart of the reactors despite a pending lawsuit filed by local residents seeking to block the resumption of operations. Kansai Electric has appealed a Fukui District Court ruling in 2014 which banned it from running the two reactors due to safety concerns.
 
Seismologist Kunihiko Shimazaki, a former commissioner of the NRA, has warned that the authority may have underestimated quake hazards at the Oi plant.
 
Kansai Electric applied for the screening of the two reactors at the Oi plant in July 2013. With Wednesday’s approval, all of its seven nuclear reactors at three power stations for which the utility has sought screening have cleared the safety standards.
 
Of the seven, the No. 4 reactor at Takahama plant in Fukui restarted operation on May 17, while the No. 3 reactor of the same plant is expected to get back online in early June.
 

Saga Assembly OKs Restart of 2 Genkai N-Plant Reactors, 2,000 Active Faults Beneath the Japanese Archipelago

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Saga Assembly OKs Restart of 2 Genkai N-Plant Reactors

Saga, April 13 (Jiji Press)–The Saga prefectural assembly on Thursday voted to accept the restart of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power station in the southwestern Japan prefecture.
Following the decision by majority vote, Saga Governor Yoshinori Yamaguchi said he will make his final judgment as early as this month on whether his prefecture should approve the restart.
The mayor and the town assembly of Genkai, the host municipality of the power plant, have already given the green light. Local government procedures needed for reactivating the reactors will finish if the governor approves.
The resolution to accept the Genkai reactor restart was introduced mainly by members of the Liberal Democratic Party, which holds a majority in the assembly.
Two other assembly groups, including members of the Japanese Communist Party, submitted a resolution to call on Yamaguchi not to jump to a hasty decision.

http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017041300725

One year after Kyushu quake, and 2,000 active faults beneath us

Novelist Michiko Ishimure, 90, was in Kumamoto when a megaquake jolted the southwestern region exactly one year ago.

“It felt as if my legs had been ripped off from the knees and I was being dragged over a grassy field. The excruciating pain was something I’d never experienced before,” she wrote for the Seibu edition of The Asahi Shimbun for the Kyushu region.

Ishimure blacked out while trying to make an escape after grabbing some food and a ream of writing paper.

Her injury was minor. But when the “main shock” of the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake struck more than 24 hours after the initial jolt, she was taken to a hospital.

Upon discharge, she returned to the nursing home for the elderly where she was a resident. But her sense of alienation deepened.

“I’d never felt I really belonged there, to begin with,” she explained. “I think this feeling intensified–along with a sense of emptiness–after being shunted around because of the quakes.”

April 14 marks the first anniversary of the massive Kumamoto Earthquake. Many citizens are still unable to return to their prequake lives and are experiencing inconveniences of all sorts. More than 40,000 people are still living in emergency shelters and temporary housing.

A poem by Jun Tsukamoto depicts the plight of survivors fearing aftershocks and sleeping in their cars: “Unable to sleep and wide awake/ Night after night/ Parked cars cover the ground.”

Last summer, “Gendai Tanka” (Contemporary “tanka” poetry) magazine featured verse about the Kumamoto disaster. The pieces reveal the hardships of evacuees, as does this one by Rika Hamana: “My father starts shuffling his feet along a street at night/ The lavatory he is headed to is far away in the driving rain.”

The Kumamoto Earthquake claimed 50 lives. Another 170 died later and their deaths were ruled to have been quake related.

Even after the jolts subsided, survivors were still fighting in the midst of a long battle. How difficult it is to continue providing them the care they need to ensure they don’t feel alone and helpless.

About 2,000 active faults run beneath the Japanese archipelago. I try to imagine what it will be like to have my life completely disrupted and changed, even tomorrow. And I think about what I should do to ensure my own survival.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201704140015.html