Osaka higher court backs restart of halted Takahama reactors

The Takahama reactors site is under 3 miles from Kyoto-fu, 36 miles (58K) from the cultural heritage sites in the ancient capital of Kyoto and closer to the region’s supply of fresh water, Lake Biwa.

17632366_10154657217108772_3071628099542733991_o.jpg

 

Takahama reactors may soon restart after court overturns injunction

n-takahama-a-20170328.jpg

Plaintiffs hold banners in front of the Osaka High Court on Tuesday expressing disappointment after the court ruled in favor Kansai Electric over the restart of two Takahama reactors.

 

OSAKA – The Osaka High Court overturned Tuesday an injunction issued against the restart of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at its Takahama facility in Fukui Prefecture, paving the way for them to be switched back on.

The landmark injunction issued by the Otsu District Court in Shiga Prefecture in March last year cited safety concerns for preventing the reactors from restarting even though they were judged to have met new safety regulations set after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear crisis.

While the injunction had been a temporary victory for the plaintiffs in Shiga, some had predicted the Osaka High Court would adhere to a more narrow technical view of nuclear safety.

In his ruling, Judge Ikuo Yamashita said the plaintiffs had the responsibility to prove allegations of any specific dangers that would result in restarting the plant, which the judge ruled they had not.

Part of the plaintiffs’ claim relied on the alleged inadequacy of current evacuation plans in the event of an accident. Therefore, starting up the Takahama reactors, located about 60 km from the city of Kyoto, posed a significant risk, they argued.

Yamashita ruled that measures were being taken in Fukui and that official attitudes and efforts had been proactive, so he could not accept the plaintiffs’ claims.

Kepco showed proof that they drew up emergency response measures based on the largest scale earthquake and tsunami,” the judge ruled. “The judge’s decision is extremely regrettable,”It’s clear with the decision that no progress has been made in terms of learning the lessons of March 11, 2011,” Kenichi Ido, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said after the verdict was announced. “The attitude of the courts hasn’t changed at all since the Fukushima accident. In particular, the evacuation plans aren’t really being taken into consideration by the courts.”

Yoshinori Tsuji, one of the chief plaintiffs, said: “In America and South Korea, the courts are defying the presidents of both countries. But in Japan, the courts — which were ignoring the wishes of the people to stop nuclear power before March 11, 2011 — fail to reflect on what happened then. The courts follow the wishes of the nuclear power lobby and the government.”

Kansai electric officials welcomed the decision, saying at a Tuesday afternoon press conference in Osaka the utility would move towards preparing to restart, although they did not say when the reactors were expected to go back online.

With safety as the top priority, the period for restarts is not yet set,” Kepco president Shigeki Iwane said. He added that once the restarts took place, the firm would move to reduce electricity prices.

In Kansai region, reaction to the court’s verdict was mixed. Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa, a strong supporter of nuclear power, was relieved with the decision, saying it was a return to a reasonable and correct decision by the court system.

But in neighboring Shiga prefecture, Gov. Taizo Mikazuki said that, given more immediate concerns Japan’s nuclear power industry faces, including spent fuel storage and decommissioning of old reactors, it was the wrong environment to approve reactor restarts. Kyoto Gov. Keiji Yamada emphasized that the utmost had to be done to ensure safety.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/28/national/takahama-reactors-may-soon-restart-court-overturns-injunction/

 

Higher court backs restart of halted Takahama reactors

takama npp

The No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant, from left to right, are pictured in this photo taken from a Mainichi helicopter in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, on June 15, 2016.

OSAKA (Kyodo) — A Japanese high court on Tuesday revoked a lower court order to halt two nuclear reactors at the Takahama plant in central Japan, accepting an appeal by Kansai Electric Power Co. against the first injunction ever issued in the country to shut operating reactors.

But it is unlikely that the operation of other nuclear reactors in Japan will be resumed soon due to pending legal matters, analysts say.

The decision, made by the Osaka High Court, legally allows Kansai Electric to resume operating the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the nuclear power plant on the Sea of Japan coast in Fukui Prefecture. The two reactors have been idled for around a year.

The higher court said that quake-resistance standards were not overestimated under tougher regulations set following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and that necessary measures have been taken to prevent significant damage of the reactor core.

The latest decision bodes well for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, which has been promoting the restart of nuclear reactors in a bid to bolster the economy by cutting the cost of fossil fuels and exporting nuclear technology abroad.

Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, said at a press conference in Tokyo, “We want Kansai Electric to put top priority on safety and make every effort to obtain understanding from the local government and others involved.”

Kansai Electric President Shigeki Iwane said at a news conference in Osaka that his company has yet to decide when to restart the operation of Takahama’s Nos. 3 and 4 reactors, pledging to “make safety our top priority.”

Iwane also expressed eagerness to push down electric charges as soon as possible after the resumption of the two reactors.

A group of residents in neighboring Shiga Prefecture who won the landmark injunction from the Otsu District Court in March last year are expected to consider countermeasures, including filing a special appeal with the Supreme Court.

Amid widespread concern about the safety of nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima meltdowns, the residents in Shiga filed a request with the district court in January 2015, seeking an order halting the two reactors at the plant.

On March 9, 2016, the district court ordered operation of the two nuclear reactors to be halted, casting doubts about the utility’s safety measures and Japan’s post-Fukushima nuclear regulations set by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

Last July, Kansai Electric filed an appeal against a district court decision rejecting its request to suspend the injunction order.

In Tuesday’s decision, the Osaka High Court determined that the post-Fukushima safety measures were “not unreasonable” because they were devised on the basis of the “latest scientific and technical knowledge” that reflects lessons learned from the nuclear disaster.

The utility has criticized the injunction, claiming it was not an objective judgment based on scientific knowledge. It also says the injunction is costing the utility 200 million to 300 million yen ($1.8 million to $2.7 million) more per day to generate power from other fuel.

Kansai Electric removed nuclear fuel from the Takahama reactors between August and September last year given the prolonged court battle.

As of Tuesday, only three of Japan’s 42 commercial reactors nationwide are now operating — the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric’s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, and the No. 3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture, western Japan, according to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.

On Thursday, the Hiroshima District Court is set to rule on an appeal filed to halt the operation of the No.3 reactor at the Ikata power plant, the first ruling since it resumed operations in August last year.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170328/p2g/00m/0dm/063000c

Advertisements

20170328_Takahama_article_main_image

The Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Takahama nuclear power plant

Japan court rules in favor of restart of Kansai Elec’s Takahama reactors

A Japanese high court on Tuesday overturned a lower court’s order to shut two reactors operated by Kansai Electric Power, a company spokesman said, potentially ending a drawn-out legal battle and helping the utility to cut fuel costs.

The decision, while positive for Kansai Electric, is not likely to speed the broader process of getting reactors back online nationally after the Fukushima nuclear disaster of six years ago, said a former advisor to the government and others.

“The future of nuclear power is still uncertain. The decision does not mean that the courts will give a ‘yes’ to other legal cases. Political uncertainty remains strong, too,” said Tatsujiro Suzuki, a former vice chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, a government body.

The Osaka High Court overturned the first court-ordered shutdown of an operating nuclear plant in Japan. The lower court had decided last year in favor of residents living near the Takahama atomic station west of Tokyo after they had petitioned for the reactors at the plant to be shut.

Kansai Electric, Japan’s most nuclear-reliant utility before the disaster, estimates it will save 7 billion yen ($63 million) per month in fuel once it restarts both reactors.

The restart schedule for the reactors, however, is still uncertain because the utility has been conducting safety checks requested by local authorities after a large crane toppled onto another reactor building at the site due to strong winds in January, a Kansai Electric spokesman said earlier.

There are four reactors at the Takahama plant, with the earlier court order covering the two newest ones.

The company released a profit forecast after the verdict on Tuesday saying it estimates net income of 133 billion yen ($1.2 billion) in the year through March 31, 2017.

The Kansai case was one of many going through the courts after the Japanese public turned away from nuclear power following the Fukushima meltdowns of 2011, the world’s worst nuclear calamity since Chernobyl in 1986.

Just three out of Japan’s 42 operable reactors are running and the pace of restarts has been protracted despite strong support from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, which is keen to restore a power source that provided about a third of electricity supply before the Fukushima disaster.

Residents have lodged injunctions against nuclear plants across Japan and lower courts have been increasingly siding with them on safety concerns.

Contentious verdicts are usually overturned by higher courts, where judges tend to be more attuned to government policy, judicial experts say.

“We are going to win some and we are going to lose some, but the political and social situation is such that unstable prospects for restarts are here to stay,” Aileen Mioko Smith, an advisor to the plaintiffs and a co-plaintiff in other lawsuits, told Reuters by phone from Osaka.

There are more than 30 cases going through Japan’s courts in which communities are seeking to stop reactors from operating, she said.

Kansai Electric shares had ended trading before the court decision was released. They closed 0.3 percent higher on Tuesday at 1,283 yen, while the broader market rose more than 1 percent.

http://www.reuters.com/article/uk-japan-nuclear-court-idUSKBN16Z0IP

Niigata governor candidates must debate nuclear safety in earnest

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant is the largest nuclear plant in the world, owned by Tepco, Tepco will do anything to get it restarted.

vghklk.jpg

kashiwazaki kariwa.jpg

 

Official campaigning for the upcoming Niigata gubernatorial election started on Sept. 29, setting the stage for debate on the safety of a nuclear power plant in the prefecture.

The issue of the safety of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant has gained even more traction as Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida, who has been cautious about approving Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s plan to restart the idled plant, has announced he will not seek re-election.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety inspections of the offline reactors, which the electric utility is seeking to bring back online, are in their final stages.

The election inevitably revolves around whether the new governor should allow TEPCO to proceed with the plan if the NRA gives the green light.

Four independent rookie candidates are running for the poll. But the race is effectively shaping up as a one-on-one battle between Tamio Mori, the former mayor of the city of Nagaoka in the prefecture supported by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, and Ryuichi Yoneyama, a doctor backed by the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and the People’s Life Party & Taro Yamamoto and Friends.

Some 460,000 people live within 30 kilometers of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant. The candidates should announce their proposals to protect the safety of these residents during campaigning for the Oct. 16 election.

Plans to ensure the safe and smooth evacuations of residents living around nuclear power plants when a serious accident occurs are described as the last safety net for nuclear power plants.

The governors of prefectures where nuclear plants are located, as the chiefs of the local governments, have to take on a huge responsibility for the safety of local residents.

Izumida has insisted that he wouldn’t start discussions on any plan to restart a reactor in his prefecture unless the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, also operated by TEPCO, is fully reviewed and explained.

He has undertaken his own investigation of the catastrophic accident by setting up an expert committee within the prefectural government.

Izumida has also criticized the fact that the new nuclear safety standards introduced after the 2011 accident don’t require plans for evacuating local residents. He has been calling on the central government to improve the standards.

In 2002, it was revealed that TEPCO had covered up damage at its nuclear power plants including the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. The magnitude-6.8 Niigata Chuetsu-oki offshore earthquake, which rocked Niigata Prefecture in July 2007, triggered a fire and resulted in small leaks of radiation at the plant.

Many people in the prefecture along the Sea of Japan remain deeply concerned about the safety of the nuclear plant and distrustful of TEPCO.

Izumida has responded to the concerns by raising issues about nuclear safety.

In the gubernatorial race, Yoneyama has cast himself as the candidate to carry on Izumida’s legacy.

I will take over the (nuclear power) policy of Izumida and won’t start discussions on any reactor restart unless the Fukushima disaster is fully reviewed and explained,” he has said.

Mori, who has been critical of Izumida’s political approach, has taken a different stance toward the issue.

I will put the top priority on the safety of people in the prefecture and rigorously examine the conclusion the NRA reaches (in its safety inspection),” he has said.

The difference in position on the issue between the two candidates is likely to be a key factor for Niigata voters at the polls.

The governors of prefectures hosting nuclear power plants have the “right to consent” to a plan to restart a reactor. But this is only a conventional right based on safety agreements with the electric utilities involved and has no legal basis.

When new Kagoshima Governor Satoshi Mitazono, who took office in July, asked Kyushu Electric Power Co. to suspend the operation of its Sendai nuclear power plant in the prefecture, he was criticized for undermining the central government’s energy policy.

But the criticism is off the mark. When a nuclear accident occurs, the local communities around the plant suffer the most.

To allay anxiety among residents in areas around nuclear plants, the local governments concerned, through negotiations with the operators of the plants, have established systems and rights that allow them to become involved in safety efforts.

The Fukushima disaster has only increased anxiety among residents around nuclear power plants.

The chief of the local government in an area home to a nuclear plant has every right to refuse to entrust the safety of local residents entirely to the utility and the central government.

Niigata Prefecture is not an area where TEPCO supplies power, but it has been bearing the risks involved in the operation of a massive nuclear power plant that generates electricity for the Tokyo metropolitan area.

The gubernatorial election will be a choice that directly affects the central government’s energy policy.

We are eager to see the candidates engaged in meaningful debate on the safety of the nuclear plant based on a national perspective.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201610030020.html

image013

Plant operator to reactivate another reactor

The operator of Japan’s only active nuclear power station plans to prepare to restart a second reactor at the plant.

Kyushu Electric Power Company on Friday told the Nuclear Regulation Authority, or NRA, of its plan to start putting fuel rods into the Number 2 reactor of the Sendai plant in the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima on September 11th.

The company says loading the 157 units of fuel rods into the facility will take 4 days.

NRA officials are to then inspect emergency equipment and procedures for handling severe accidents. If no problems are found, the utility plans to reactivate the reactor in mid-October, aiming at starting commercial operations in mid-November.

The firm restarted the plant’s Number 1 reactor on August 11th. The reactor is to undergo final checks by the NRA next Thursday and, if it passes them, become the first in Japan to supply electricity in 2 years.

The 2 reactors are the first to meet regulations introduced after the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in 2011.

Source: NHK 

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150904_32.html

Sendai Nuclear Power Plant to be restarted in July 2015 surrounded by 5 active volcanoes

n-volcano-f-201505301-870x697

Sendai reactors surrounded by 5 active volcanoes
Japan’s NRA has given the go ahead to restart two reactors at the Sendai nuclear plant. The needed local approvals are expected to permit the plant to restart even though public opinion is about two to one against restarts. The first reactor could restart as early as July.
Warnings for a minor eruption at one of the five volcanoes near the Sendai nuclear plant were sent out. The volcano 64km from the nuclear plant has seen increased activity, enough so that experts put out a warning. Japan’s government has been pushing to restart the Sendai reactors without a viable plan for dealing with volcano risk.
We also found other risks that are unaddressed with the Sendai plant related to any disaster response.
While the nuclear plant restarts are largely a political move to shore up the profit margins of struggling electrical utilities, other challenges go unaddressed. Meanwhile fuel storage at nuclear plants may be at capacity within two years of reactor restarts.
With experts disputing the safety of restarting the Sendai reactors due to the proximity of so many active volcanoes they may be tempting fate.

Risks at Sendai
The Sendai nuclear power plant located in Kagoshima Japan has been selected as the one Japanese authorities would focus on attempting to approve for restart. Intakes reside at: 5ft above sea level Intake pump buildings 13 feet above sea level Reactor blocks at about 35-40 ft above sea level
Road routes are problematic at the plant. The plant is bordered by a large river to the north, the sea to the west and a large expanse of mountains to the east. Roads route either north along the river or south following the coastline a considerable distance before you reach an area that might be undamaged. The major road that routes towards Sendai crosses the river north of the plant before a road to get to the plant could be reached, requiring another trip across the river. Miyazaki sits further to the east but again requires a north route and river crossing.
All roads to the plant from the north are dependent on a bridge across the river to travel from the north or the east. The roads to the plant from the north as they each require a bridge crossing, circled in red. The road faces the river edge and varies from 5 feet above sea level to 31 feet above sea level.
The south route goes through areas like Tsuchikawa, an area that would likely be subjected to any tsunami that would hit the plant, potentially preventing travel further east to Kagoshima. This would cause a station blackout at the plant just like at Fukushima Daiichi.
The even bigger challenge is that the conditions that would take out offsite power can’t be overcome. That had been the 500th eruption for the year and was just past the half way point of 2013.
The problems a volcano can cause a nuclear power plant is a well known problem. Ash can also cause mechanical damage to anything with moving parts that the ash may get into including pumps and generators.
The isolation of the plant due to the terrain and roads could hinder any response effort.

Non evacuation plans for Sendai
Prime minister Abe said that he approves of the evacuation plans around the Sendai nuclear plant and that he considers them “concrete and reasonable”. There is currently no agency or authority to evaluate evacuation plans in Japan.
The governor of Kagoshima said he was reluctant to develop plans to rescue all the people within 30km.  “There are 17 hospitals and welfare facilities within 10 km of the plant. “We could spend long hours creating something unrealistic, but it won’t function” in the event of an actual disaster, Ito told reporters last month.”
The prefecture told the remaining facilities to figure it out for themselves how to evacuate anyone between the 10 to 30km zone.
Critics of the evacuation plans around Sendai pointed out that damage from earthquakes, landslides and tsunami were not given consideration in planning.

2 Sendai reactors cleared by NRA for restart
Japan cleared the way for a resumption of nuclear power, four years after the world’s worst atomic disaster in more than two decades led to the shutdown of all the country’s reactors and fueled public opposition to the industry.
Regulators said Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s two-reactor Sendai nuclear plant had cleared safety hurdles introduced after the triple meltdowns at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 plant in 2011.
The Sendai plant, in Kagoshima Prefecture, still needs to go through operational checks before a restart but these are expected to be completed without major hitches.

Volcano explodes off Kyushu 151 km from Sendai, forcing small island to evacuate
A volcano exploded Friday morning on sparsely populated Kuchinoerabu Island, sending smoke and ash soaring into the sky above Kagoshima Prefecture and residents fleeing to the safety of nearby Yakushima Island.
The 9:59 a.m. eruption of 626-meter Mount Shindake, the island’s main peak, produced a plume over 9 km high and a pyroclastic flow that reached the shoreline, the Meteorological Agency said.
There was no warning.
Situated some 100 km off the southern tip of Kyushu, Kuchinoerabu has only about 100 full-time residents. The same mountain had 178 small eruptions in March alone and produced one last week that created a plume 4.3 km high.
Nobuo Geshi of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology claims Friday’s eruption is the same type as the one seen at Sakurajima but much larger.
Geshi, who heads a group of scientists conducting research on massive eruptions, said it is very similar to the one the island experienced in 1966.
He said it can also be regarded as part of the volcanic activity that continued after the eruption last August.
Geshi pointed out that none of the past cases was a one-off eruption, suggesting the activity may continue for a while.
Kuchinoerabu, located in an area south of Kyushu with a large concentration of active volcanoes, has experienced numerous bouts of volcanic activity since Shindake’s colossal eruption in 1841, which scorched nearby villages and killed many residents.
Shindake’s volcanic activities continued in the 1960s, resulting in another massive eruption in November 1966 that hurt three people and caused shock waves and pyroclastic flows that hit Kagoshima and Tanegashima Island, one of the Osumi Islands.
The mountain also experienced a small phreatic eruption in September 1980.
Since the 2000s, a large increase in volcanic quakes and tremors has been reported.

Restarting Fukushima No. 2 plant would be very difficult: Obuchi

Sep 26, 2014 

Industry minister Yuko Obuchi said Thursday that it will be “very difficult” to restart Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant, which escaped severe damage in the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster unlike the No. 1 plant nearby, amid strong calls from locals to decommission its reactors.

Tepco plans to decommission all six reactors at the crippled No. 1 plant, including two that avoided meltdowns, but the utility has yet to make clear what it would do with the four-reactor No. 2 complex, located some 12 km south of the No. 1 plant.

While noting that it is Tepco — not the central government — that should decide whether to decommission reactors at the No. 2 plant, the minister said the plant cannot be dealt with in the same way as other nuclear facilities in the country “given the feelings of people in Fukushima Prefecture.”

Speaking to reporters during her visit to Fukushima Prefecture, Obuchi also said that during a meeting with her in the morning, Gov. Yuhei Sato called for the central government to show strong leadership in deciding to decommission the four reactors at the plant.

The four reactors at the No. 2 plant have been offline since the earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the plant on March 11, 2011, and forced the reactors to shut down. They escaped meltdowns.

Thursday marked Obuchi’s second visit to Fukushima since she took office in the Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month, with the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which is striving to restart the country’s idled nuclear reactors, trying to show its support for the prefecture.

Obuchi, who was picked on Sept. 3 as Japan’s first female minister of economy, trade and industry, has placed the revival of Fukushima and addressing the continuing nuclear crisis at the top of her agenda. She visited the Fukushima No. 1 complex days after assuming her ministerial post.

Source: Japan Times

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/09/26/national/restarting-fukushima-2-plant-difficult-obuchi/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=restarting-fukushima-2-plant-difficult-obuchi

Japan PM: Nuclear Power Plants Will Not Reopen Unless 100% Safe

193191848

MOSCOW, September 23 (RIA Novosti) –

The Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe said on Monday that Japan will not restart its closed nuclear power plants “unless safety is restored 100 percent”, as reported by the Japan Times.

At the current moment, Japan is “completely dependent on fossil fuels,” said the Prime Minister at the UN World Leaders Forum.

Japan has recently been discussing reopening some of its nuclear power plants which have been closed since the Fukushima Daiyo disaster in 2011. Two weeks ago the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) approved the restarting two of its reactors near the city of Kyushu. The approval comes after stricter safety regulations have been enacted and met since the disaster three years ago.

The restarting of the nuclear power plants will be a positive measure for the economically troubled Japan. According the World Nuclear Association, Japan produced roughly 30% of its power using nuclear power before the disaster and had planned to increase that number to at least 40% by 2017. Since the disaster, Japan has had to rely on importing fossil fuels to support its power production. The cost per Kw of energy between fossil fuels and nuclear power is vast. Restarting the reactors will help Japan lower its energy costs and dependence on foreign sources of fuel.

All of Japan’s 48 undamaged nuclear reactors are currently temporarily closed, undergoing checks and necessary repairs after the Fukushima accident.

The Sendai nuclear power plant is located on Kyushu Island southwest of Tokyo, and is owned and operated by Kyushu Electric Power.

On March 11, 2011, the Fukushima nuclear power plant was hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami that caused a partial meltdown of three of the plant’s nuclear reactors. The incident was the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.

Source: RIA Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/world/20140923/193191892/Japan-PM-Nuclear-Power-Plants-Will-Not-Reopen-Unless-100Pct-Safe.html