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

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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.
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Restarting Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant would be a huge mistake

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The Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant in Tokai village, Ibaraki Prefecture, which is operated by Japan Atomic Power Co.
July 5, 2018
The Nuclear Regulation Authority has concluded that the Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant in Ibaraki Prefecture, operated by Japan Atomic Power Co., meets improved safety standards for a restart.
The watchdog body’s decision effectively paves the way for bringing the idled facility back online.
But a slew of questions and concerns cast serious doubt on the wisdom of restarting this aging nuclear plant located at the northern tip of the Tokyo metropolitan area, given that it is approaching the end of its 40-year operational lifespan.
There is a compelling case against bringing the plant back on stream unless these concerns are properly addressed.
The first major question is how the project can be squared with the rules for reducing the risk of accidents at aging nuclear facilities.
The 40-year lifespan for nuclear reactors is an important rule to reduce the risk of accidents involving aging reactors that was introduced in the aftermath of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011.
Although a reactor’s operational life can be extended by up to 20 years if approved by the NRA, the government, at the time of the revision to the law, said it would be granted only in exceptional cases.
Despite this caveat, Kansai Electric Power Co.’s applications for extensions for its three aging reactors all got the green light.
The NRA has yet to approve the requested extension of the Tokai No. 2 plant’s operational life. But it is obvious that the nuclear watchdog’s approval will cause further erosion of the rule. It will also undermine the regulatory regime to limit the lifespan of nuclear facilities per se.
Local communities have also raised objections to restarting the Tokai No. 2 plant. Some 960,000 people live within 30 kilometers of the plant, more than in any other 30-km emergency planning zone.
The local governments within the zone are struggling to develop legally required emergency evacuation plans to prepare for major accidents.
This spring, an agreement was reached between Japan Atomic Power and five municipalities around the plant, including Mito, that commits the operator to seek approval from local authorities within the 30-km zone before restarting the plant.
Winning support from the local communities for the plant reactivation plan is undoubtedly a colossal challenge, given strong anxiety about the facility’s safety among local residents. The gloomy situation was brought home by the Mito municipal assembly’s adoption of a written opinion opposing the plan.
But Japan Atomic Power is determined to carry through the plan as its survival depends on the plant continuing operation.
The company was set up simply to produce and sell electricity by using atomic energy. Its nuclear reactors are all currently offline, which has placed the entity in serious financial difficulty.
Since the company is unable to raise on its own funds to implement the necessary safety measures at the Tokai No. 2 plant, which are estimated to exceed 170 billion yen ($1.54 billion), Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and Tohoku Electric Power Co., which are both shareholders and customers of the company, will provide financial support.
But TEPCO has been put under effective state control to deal with the costly consequences of the Fukushima disaster.
It is highly doubtful that the utility, which is kept alive with massive tax-financed support, is qualified to take over the financial risk of the business of another company in trouble.
TEPCO claims the Tokai No. 2 plant is promising as a source of low-cost and stable power supply, although it has not offered convincing grounds for the claim.
Some members of the NRA have voiced skepticism about this view.
TEPCO and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which supervises the power industry, have a responsibility to offer specific and detailed explanations about related issues to win broad public support for the plan to reactivate the Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant.
A hard look at the grim situation surrounding the plant leaves little doubt that restarting it does not make sense.
Japan Atomic Power and the major electric utilities that own it should undertake a fundamental review of the management of the nuclear power company without delaying efforts to tackle the problems besetting the operator of the Tokai No. 2 plant.

Old Nuclear Plant Tokai Ok to restart

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The Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Station, front, and the Tokai Power Station, right back, which is currently being decommissioned, are seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter

Nuclear watchdog OKs restart of aging nuclear plant hit by tsunami

July 4, 2018
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s nuclear watchdog on Wednesday gave the green light to the restart of an aging nuclear power plant northeast of Tokyo, idled since it was hit by the tsunami that caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
The Tokai No. 2 plant is the first nuclear plant affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster to have cleared screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, part of the steps required before it can actually resume operations.
The plant, located in the village of Tokai in Ibaraki Prefecture, suffered an emergency automatic shutdown of its reactor and was cut off from its external power source following the quake.
After being hit by a 5.4-meter tsunami, one of its three emergency power generators was incapacitated. But the other two remained intact and allowed the reactor to cool down three and a half days after the disaster.
Despite the approval by the NRA, the Tokai plant still needs to clear two more screenings by regulators by November, when it will turn 40 years old, otherwise it could face the prospect of decommissioning.
Tougher safety rules introduced in the post-Fukushima years prohibit in principle the operation of nuclear reactors beyond 40 years. But extending a unit’s life for an additional 20 years is possible if operators make safety upgrades and pass regulators’ screening.
Actual plant operation is unlikely before March 2021 when construction to bolster safety measures is scheduled to be completed. The restart plan also needs to be approved by local municipalities.
The Tokai No. 2 plant, operated by Japan Atomic Power Co., uses a boiling water reactor, the same type as those used at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi plant, which saw core meltdowns and spewed a massive amount of radioactive materials into the atmosphere in the 2011 disaster.
It is the eighth plant approved of a restart under the stricter safety rules introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis and the second with a boiling water reactor following the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
The plant’s evacuation plan — which covers 960,000 residents, the largest number of potential evacuees for a nuclear plant in Japan due to its location in a metropolitan area — has yet to be compiled.
The operator filed for a safety screening to restart the plant in May 2014. It predicts a potential tsunami as high as 17.1 meter and expects some 180 billion yen ($1.63 billion) is needed to construct coastal levees and beef up power sources among other safety measures.
Japan Atomic Power solely engages in the nuclear energy business but none of its reactors has been online since the 2011 quake. Given its financial problems, the NRA has asked it to show how it will finance the safety measures and Tokyo Electric Power and Tohoku Electric Power Co. have offered to financially support the company.
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Ibaraki citizens demonstrate against the restart of the Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant outside the Nuclear Regulation Authority headquarters in Tokyo’s Minato Ward on Wednesday.

Nuclear watchdog OKs restart of aging tsunami-hit Tokai nuclear plant

Jul 4, 2018
Ibaraki unit needs to clear two more screenings by November, when it will turn 40
The Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday gave the green light to the restart of an aging nuclear power plant northeast of Tokyo, idled since it was hit by the tsunami that caused meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
The Tokai No. 2 plant is the first nuclear plant affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster to have cleared screening by the nuclear watchdog. Other steps are still required before it can resume operations.
Due to the quake, the plant in the Ibaraki Prefecture village of Tokai suffered an emergency automatic shutdown of its reactor and was cut off from its external power source.
After then being hit by a 5.4-meter tsunami, one of its three emergency power generators was incapacitated. But the other two remained intact and allowed the reactor to cool down 3½ days after the disaster.
Despite the approval by the NRA, the plant still needs to clear two more screenings by regulators by November, when it will turn 40 years old. If it fails, it could face the prospect of decommissioning.
Following the decision, Ibaraki Gov. Kazuhiko Oigawa told reporters he intends to “closely monitor the remaining screenings” and called on the NRA “to conduct strict examinations.”
Tougher safety rules introduced after the Fukushima disaster in principle prohibit the operation of nuclear reactors beyond 40 years. But extending a unit’s life for an additional 20 years is possible if operators make safety upgrades and it passes screenings.
Actual operation is unlikely before March 2021, when construction to bolster safety measures is scheduled to be completed. The restart plan also needs to be approved by local municipalities.
On Wednesday morning, a group of about 10 citizens protested the restart outside the NRA’s offices in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.
Mika Tsubata, a 47-year-old resident of Tokai who observed the NRA meeting, blasted the decision. “The Tokai No. 2 plant is old and was damaged in the 2011 disaster,” she said. “It’s evident to everyone that (the restart) is highly risky — I don’t think the NRA made the appropriate decision.”
But Eiji Sato, the 69-year-old chair of the village’s chamber of commerce, said the plant’s resumption is key to Tokai’s future. “The village has thrived on nuclear power generation,” he said.
The Tokai No. 2 plant, operated by Japan Atomic Power Co., uses a boiling-water reactor, the same type as those used at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which suffered core meltdowns and spewed a massive amount of radioactive material into the atmosphere in 2011.
It is the eighth plant to get approval for a restart under the stricter safety rules and the second with a boiling-water reactor, following the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
The plant’s evacuation plan — which covers 960,000 residents, the largest number of potential evacuees for a nuclear plant in Japan due to its location near a metropolitan area — has yet to be compiled.
“Because of the large number of residents around the plant, compiling effective anti-disaster measures and an evacuation plan in a wide area is a huge challenge,” Oigawa said.
The operator filed for a safety screening to restart the plant in May 2014. It predicts a potential tsunami as high as 17.1 meters and expects ¥180 billion ($1.63 billion) will be needed to construct coastal levees and beef up power sources, among other safety measures.
Although Japan Atomic Power’s sole business is nuclear energy, none of its reactors has been online since the 2011 quake. Given its financial problems, the NRA has asked the utility to show how it will finance the safety measures. Tepco and Tohoku Electric Power Co., which had been receiving electricity from the plant when it was in operation, have offered to financially support the company.
The NRA decided at the meeting to seek industry minister Hiroshige Seko’s views on whether Tepco’s financial contribution could affect the costs of scrapping the Fukushima No. 1 plant and enhancing safety at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

Japan Cleared to Re-Start World’s Largest Nuclear Plant

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TEPCO, which responded so badly to the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear disaster, has won approval from Japan’s nuclear reactor to crank back up the world’s biggest nuclear power plant.

The word “nuclear” has a lot more power in Japan than it does elsewhere. 

 

Tokyo Electric Power, or TEPCO (TKECY) as it is better known, has just won approval to re-start two reactors at the world’s largest nuclear power plant. Its shares got a jolt of 3% at that announcement.

Nuclear-linked stocks will be worth watching as the company pushes on with that attempt. TEPCO is, after all, the company that responded so badly to the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant in 2011.

The only country to have been hit by an atom bomb nevertheless embraced the technology behind nuclear power. Around one-fifth of all electricity is intended to be produced that way.

Then came the disaster at Fukushima. The March 2011 earthquake unleashed a tidal wave that ultimately killed 15,894 people, causing ¥21.5 trillion ($191 billion) in damage. Only the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in Ukraine was worse.

The tsunami deluged the nuclear reactors at Fukushima, and three of them melted down. That shined a spotlight on the inept operations and response of TEPCO, which ran the plant.

The company was terrible at responding to the disaster and even worse at responding to the public. Its executives went into shutdown mode, as Asian companies are wont to do. It denied facts that turned out to be true, downplayed the impact and generally pretended that there’s nothing to see here, we’ve got it all under control, please move along.

So it’s amazing that it’s back in big-time nuclear business. Most recently, Japan’s nuclear regulator, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, has granted TEPCO initial safety approval to restart two reactors, six and seven, at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, the world’s largest.

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The five NRA commissioners voted unanimously for permission to crank the reactors back up. Formal approval will likely go ahead after a 30-day period for public comment.

The governor of Niigata prefecture, where that plant is based, says he won’t consider allowing the plant to run again until the prefecture conducts its own review of what went on at Fukushima, and that won’t happen until 2020 at the earliest.

Opinion polls show that a majority of the Japanese public now opposes nuclear power and would ultimately like Japan to cease producing it. It’s likely that nuclear power will come up as an issue in the Japanese election, slated for Oct. 22. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe believes nuclear power is a viable and stable source of energy. His Liberal Democratic Party wants to see more of Japan’s nuclear reactors put back to work.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, a former defense minister in the Abe government, has formed a conservative party to rival Abe’s conservative government. Although she says she won’t run for prime minister, her Kibo no To, or Party of Hope, will contest many of the seats up for grabs.

The party is considering an anti-nuclear stance. “We’ll examine how to bring down the reliance to zero by 2030,” Koike told a news conference, according to the Japan Times.

Nuclear power is intended to produce around 22% of Japan’s electricity if all its plants are operating. Government plans call for another 27% to come from liquefied natural gas, around 23% from renewable sources, and only 26% from coal.

All 42 of Japan’s nuclear reactors were ordered to shut down in 2011.

Kyushu Electric Power (KYSEY) was the first company to fire back up a nuclear plant after the 2011 quake, on the island of the same name in the city of Sendai. That’s part of Japan’s industrial heartland.

Kansai Electric Power (KAEPY) was last week granted permission from the mayor of Ohi, in Fukui Prefecture, to re-start two reactors there. The company had applied in August for permission to do so, from Japan’s nuclear regulator, the Nuclear Regulation Authority. 

Meanwhile, TEPCO continues the cleanup of the mess at Fukushima. It has delayed the removal of used nuclear rods from fuel pools at the plant. It shifted fuel removal from 2017 to 2018 at the safest of the reactors, and from 2020 to 2023 for another two.

It also has to mop up about 770,000 tons of contaminated water that was pumped into the plant to cool the melted fuel reactors. That’s due to be cleaned out of around 580 tanks where it is stored on site by 2020 – the same year that Tokyo will host the Olympics.

https://www.thestreet.com/story/14332182/1/japan-set-to-restart-worlds-largest-nuclear-plant.html

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Nuclear regulator defers giving safety OK for idle Tepco reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant

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TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s nuclear safety watchdog on Wednesday deferred giving safety clearance for two idle Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. reactors on the Sea of Japan coast, although its chairman said the utility was “qualified” as a nuclear plant operator.

Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said following Wednesday’s meeting that Tepco, operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, was qualified but needs to stipulate its resolve to ensure safe operation of nuclear plants in its safety rules.

“It’s insecure” if Tepco expresses its resolve to ensure safety only in words, Tanaka told a press conference.

Safety rules need to be approved by the regulator and if there is a grave violation the regulator can demand that the utility halt nuclear power operations.

The regulator will formally inform the utility’s president, Tomoaki Kobayakawa, about the matter on Sept. 20. A final decision on whether Tepco is fit to be an operator will be made following discussions with the economy, trade and industry minister.

If Tepco agrees to include its resolve to ensure safety in its safety rules, the regulator will compile a draft document for the Nos. 6 and 7 reactors at Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture that will serve as certification that the utility has satisfied new safety requirements implemented since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The regulator had been expected at Wednesday’s meeting to confirm that the units have cleared the new safety requirements, but it reversed course after facing criticism over a lack of debate on whether the operator is fit to run a nuclear power plant.

For a reactor to be restarted, it first needs to clear the stiffer safety requirements introduced in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Tepco filed for safety assessments of the two units in September 2013.

According to sources close to the matter, the regulator had planned to give safety clearance while Tanaka was still on the board. Tanaka’s term expires on Sept. 18, although he will continue to work until Sept. 22.

The regulator had reached a near consensus on the issue of Tepco’s qualification when its members previously met on Sept. 6.

During the summer, the regulator questioned the Tepco management, including Kobayakawa, about its nuclear safety awareness. In July, Tanaka criticized Tepco’s attitude, saying, “An operator, which cannot take concrete measures for decommissioning efforts at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, does not have the right to resume operation of nuclear reactors.”

Tanaka urged the utility to further explain in writing issues such as how to deal with contaminated water at the Fukushima plant.

While Tepco, in its subsequent written response, did not give details about what it would do regarding the contaminated water, it did pledge to see through the scrapping of the plant, gaining a certain level of understanding from the regulator.

Meanwhile, the prospect of gaining local consent needed for the restart of the two reactors remains uncertain, with Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama saying it will take “around three to four years” for the utility to win local consent for the envisioned restart.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170914/p2g/00m/0dm/006000c

 

 

TEPCO gets OK to restart Niigata reactors, with conditions

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The nation’s nuclear watchdog gave conditional approval Sept. 13 to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s application to resume operations of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant.

It marks the first time that reactors operated by TEPCO, which manages the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, have passed more stringent reactor regulations imposed by the Nuclear Regulation Authority after the triple meltdown in 2011.

The two reactors at the plant in Niigata Prefecture–the No. 6 and No. 7 units–are the first boiling-water reactors in Japan to clear the regulations. They are the same type as the reactors at the Fukushima plant.

The NRA already accepts that TEPCO has the technological know-how to operate the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, one of the world’s largest.

But it had harbored doubts about the company’s fitness to operate a nuclear plant, given its tendency to put its balance sheet ahead of safety precautions.

The NRA ordered TEPCO to provide in the legally required safety code a detailed explanation of procedures it will take to ensure that the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant is operated safely.

That way, the watchdog body aims to make the utility legally accountable if problems arise.

It will also closely monitor the utility’s actions in adhering to the safety code once the NRA approves the measures proposed by TEPCO.

The NRA will summon Tomoaki Kobayakawa, the new president of TEPCO, to request a more demanding safety code from the company.

As another condition for a restart, the NRA called for the industry ministry’s clear-cut commitment to oversee TEPCO’s compliance with safety if it is satisfied with the utility’s pledge to respond appropriately to the decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The industry ministry oversees the nuclear industry.

Despite the NRA’s conditional approval, the utility will need to gain consent from local governments for a restart.

Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, who took office last year, has made it clear that he will not agree to the restart until the prefectural government completes its investigation into the Fukushima nuclear disaster to determine what went wrong. The investigation is expected to take several years.

In an effort to underscore its eligibility as an operator of a nuclear plant, TEPCO submitted a written pledge in August that it is “determined to take the initiative in addressing the needs of victims in Fukushima Prefecture and accomplish the decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.”

If the safety code and the industry minister’s commitment are secured, the NRA concluded that the utility will be eligible to resume operations of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the NRA, said at the Sept. 13 meeting that TEPCO’s vow in August is “binding.”

The NRA indicated that if TEPCO fails to adhere to its “promise” to heed to safety, it will exercise the power to suspend the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant’s operations or revoke its license to operate it.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant has seven reactors. The No. 6 reactor and the No. 7 reactor started operations in 1996 and 1997, respectively. Each has a capacity of 1.36 gigawatts.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201709130058.html

Takahama N°3 Reactor Restarted

Kepco restarts second Takahama reactor as Greenpeace warns of French MOX fuel shipment

n-takahama-a-20170607-870x592.jpgSecurity guards stand near a gate at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, on Tuesday, prior to the restart of a reactor at the facility.

 

OSAKA – Kansai Electric Power Co. restarted its Takahama No. 3 reactor Tuesday afternoon, bringing to five the number of nuclear reactors nationwide that have come back online since the March 11, 2011, triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Today marks an important step in the process to restart Japan’s nuclear reactors. It does not mark the end of efforts to ensure the safety of nuclear power, and we’ll continue to make safety our top priority,” said Kepco President Shigeki Iwane shortly after the 2 p.m. restart.

The No. 3 restart comes less than a month after Kepco turned its No. 4 reactor back on. It also came on the heels of reports that a shipment of uranium-plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel will arrive in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, in a few months from France for use in the No. 4 reactor next year.

Kepco’s push to fire up the 32-year-old Takahama reactors came with promises it would reduce electricity bills. Electricity from the No. 4 reactor, which went back online last month, will go on sale late next week. Electricity from the No. 3 reactor is expected to be sold from early July, during the hottest part of the summer when electricity demand peaks.

Kepco’s return to nuclear power generation, which accounted for nearly half of its electricity prior to March 11, 2011, takes place as renewable energy sources slowly gain ground.

According to one recent expert tally, renewable energy, including large-scale hydropower, accounted for 14.5 percent of total domestic power generation capacity in fiscal 2015 through March 2016.

In “Sustainable Zone 2016,” a joint analysis of Japan’s renewable energy situation by Chiba University professor Hidefumi Kurasaka and the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, it was also noted that during the first half of fiscal 2016, the average ratio of renewable energy produced by the nation’s 10 utilities increased to 15.7 percent of total electricity demand. But the ratio of renewable energy, including large-scale hydropower, at Hokkaido Electric Power Co. and Hokuriku Electric Power Co. reached 32 percent during that same period.

The government’s official energy policy calls for renewables to account for between 22 and 24 percent of the country’s electricity by 2030 and for nuclear power to generate between 20 and 22 percent, on average.

On Tuesday, Greenpeace revealed that plans are moving forward to ship at least 496 kg of plutonium from France in the form of 16 MOX fuel assemblies to Japan for use in the Takahama No. 4 reactor when it is reloaded next year. Greenpeace estimates the shipment will depart Cherbourg, France, early next month and — assuming there are no delays — arrive in Takahama sometime between mid-August and early September.

Kepco’s unjustified restart of the Takahama 3 reactor is made worse by the fact that they are planning a secret plutonium shipment which will increase the amount of dangerous plutonium MOX in their reactors,” said Shaun Burnie, a Japan-based senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany. “The Takahama reactors already pose an unacceptable threat to the people of Fukui and Kansai region. This will be compounded by the even greater usage of plutonium MOX fuel.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/06/national/kepco-restarts-second-takahama-reactor-greenpeace-warns-french-mox-fuel-shipment/#.WTaLGzQlFzA

Japan restarts reactor No 3 at Takahama nuclear plant

Only a handful of reactors have come back online, due to public opposition, since the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Tuesday’s move comes after court clearance.

trtworld-nid-373118-fid-411665.jpgJapan’s coast guard patrols in front of the No 3 reactor at the nuclear plant in Takahama, Fukui prefecture, some 350 kilometres west of Tokyo on June 6, 2017

In a small victory for the government’s pro-atomic push, a Japanese utility switched on another nuclear reactor on Tuesday, despite strong public opposition after the 2011 Fukushima meltdown.

The restart of the No 3 reactor at the Takahama nuclear plant brings the number of operational atomic reactors in Japan to five, while dozens more remain offline. Located in Fukui prefecture, the plant which is operated by Kansai Electric Power (KEPCO) is some 350 kilometres (215 miles) west of Tokyo.

Tuesday’s move comes after the utility switched on Takahama’s No 4 reactor last month with the court’s go-ahead, in spite of complaints from local residents over safety concerns. The court also gave the green light to switch on the No 3 reactor.

Japan shut down all of its atomic reactors after a powerful earthquake in March 2011 spawned a huge tsunami that led to meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Fukushima became the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Since then, just a handful of reactors have come back online due to public opposition and as legal cases work their way through the courts.

However, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has aggressively promoted nuclear energy, calling it essential to powering the world’s third-largest economy.

Much of the public remains wary of nuclear power after the disaster at Fukushima spewed radiation over a large area and forced tens of thousands to leave their homes, with some unlikely to ever return.

http://trtworld.com/asia/japan-restarts-reactor-no-3-at-takahama-nuclear-plant-373118