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4 juillet 2015 6 04 /07 /juillet /2015 22:30

 July 3, 2015

Experts slam closed-door nuclear briefings


Jul. 3, 2015 - Updated 11:11 UTC+2

A panel of experts has criticized Japan's industry ministry for discussing its new policy for disposing of high-level nuclear waste in closed-door sessions.

The ministry-appointed experts said at a meeting on Friday their call for information disclosure on the basic waste disposal policy has fallen on deaf ears.

They also said that holding sessions behind closed doors could have a negative impact on the issue.

The government decided in May to select prospective sites for burying high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and to ask local authorities for their cooperation in building the facilities.

The new policy was implemented following 13 years of failed efforts to solicit candidate sites due to strong safety concerns.

The ministry said it decided to hold closed-door briefings so that local government officials would feel free to speak out.

The ministry had held briefings in 39 prefectures by the end of June. They were attended by nearly 70 percent of local authorities nationwide. But some refused to attend to protest the closed-door policy.

The head of the panel, Hiroya Masuda, said the ministry must convince local authorities that the briefings don't necessarily indicate candidacy for waste disposal sites.

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4 juillet 2015 6 04 /07 /juillet /2015 22:28

July 4, 2015

Kyushu Electric to load nuclear fuel into Sendai plant reactor ahead of restart



Kyushu Electric Power Co. will begin loading nuclear fuel into a reactor at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture on July 7 ahead of its planned restart in August.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority gave the plant operator the green light to start loading the fuel into the No. 1 reactor after the nuclear watchdog inspected the plant’s equipment on July 3.

The reactor is planned to be restarted in mid-August after Kyushu Electric undergoes a month-long preparation.

The latest inspection was a part of the “pre-operation tests” to confirm that safety equipment is properly installed and can function at the plant to meet the NRA’s new safety standard. The NRA determined July 3 that fuel can be properly loaded into the reactor in the light of the new regulation.

Before the reactor restart, the NRA will proceed with the remaining stages of pre-operation inspections to determine if the reactor can be actually restarted and conduct "security checks" on operational procedures.

During the fuel installation, Kyushu Electric workers will move bundles of nuclear fuel rods from a storage pool adjoining the reactor building into the reactor one by one. It will take about four days to load all 157 fuel rod bundles into the reactor, Kyushu Electric officials said.

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3 juillet 2015 5 03 /07 /juillet /2015 21:49

July 3, 2015

Sendai reactor fuel to be loaded from July 7


Jul. 3, 2015 - Updated 12:31 UTC+2


Officials at the Sendai nuclear power plant in southwestern Japan say they plan to start loading fuel into one of the reactors next Tuesday.

The Kyushu Electric Power Company reported the plan to the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Friday. Earlier the same day, pre-loading inspections were completed at the Number 1 reactor.

The utility expects it will take 4 days to insert 157 nuclear fuel assemblies into the reactor. Workers will use a crane to transfer the fuel rods one by one from a storage pool in an adjacent building.

Kyushu Electric will then check emergency equipment to inject coolant into the reactor and a device to insert control rods.

Workers will also undergo a drill to rehearse their response to a severe accident.

If all goes as planned, the utility will remove the control rods to activate the reactor in mid-August.

The Sendai plant's Number 1 and Number 2 reactors became the first to clear safety screenings last year.

The screenings were required under the country's new, stricter regulations introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.

The Number 1 reactor began undergoing equipment inspections in late March ahead of the Number 2 reactor.

All of Japan's 43 reactors are currently offline.


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3 juillet 2015 5 03 /07 /juillet /2015 18:08

July 2, 2015

Nuclear watchdog threatens to abort screening of Mihama plant


The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has threatened to terminate safety screenings for reactivating the Mihama nuclear power plant's No. 3 reactor if its operator, Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO), fails to finalize a maximum seismic projection for the plant's premises by the end of August, it has been learned.

The nuclear watchdog announced the decision on July 1 over the plant's No. 3 reactor in Fukui Prefecture, whose operational life will reach the 40-year limit at the end of November next year. The move comes after KEPCO showed reluctance to raise the maximum earthquake ground motion for the plant site.

KEPCO is seeking to extend the operational life of the No. 3 reactor and filed for safety screenings in March. In order to bring about the extension, however, the utility will need to have inspections on the reactor completed by the end of November 2016, including anti-dilapidation measures.

At a regular meeting on July 1, the NRA estimated that it will take around 15 months from finalizing basic ground motion -- which serves as seismic design standards for reactors -- until screenings on other matters are completed at the plant, meaning that the utility must finalize the basic earthquake ground motion by the end of August.

Basic earthquake ground motion greatly varies depending on the predicted depths of an epicenter. KEPCO estimates that a quake whose epicenter's upper edge is four kilometers deep could hit the Mihama plant, while setting the figure at three kilometers deep for the nearby Takahama and Oi nuclear stations, respectively. The NRA has called on KEPCO to review the figure for the Mihama plant to make it on par with those for the other two plants.

If KEPCO reviews and finalizes basic ground motion for the Mihama facility, it will require additional seismic reinforcement work, possibly raising the costs for safety measures. If the utility sticks to the four-kilometer-deep epicenter scenario, however, it will not be able to finalize basic ground motion by the deadline, possibly leading to the decommissioning of the reactor.

During a July 1 press briefing, NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said, "(If KEPCO fails to finalize basic ground motion by the end of August) we must consider measures including suspension of screenings. The operator (KEPCO) needs to be aware of that."

A senior KEPCO official told the Mainichi Shimbun, "We will consider whether to change our quake predictions before the next meeting for safety screenings is convened."

The upper limit of a reactor's operational life is set at 40 years, but it can be extended by up to 20 years only once.

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3 juillet 2015 5 03 /07 /juillet /2015 18:06

 July 2, 2015


Fukushima rejects briefing for nuclear waste site


Jul. 2, 2015 - Updated 22:08 UTC+2


Japan's industry ministry is holding briefing sessions across the country. It's struggling to secure disposal sites for high-level radioactive waste generated by nuclear plants.

But it will skip the session in Fukushima Prefecture, at least for now, due to strong opposition there.

The government plans to bury high-level radioactive waste at a depth of 300 meters or more in final disposal facilities. But the effort to solicit candidate sites has made no progress because of strong safety concerns among municipalities.

In May, the industry ministry decided to name appropriate candidate sites instead of waiting for municipalities to voluntarily apply.
Since then, it has been holding briefing sessions in 39 prefectures over how to process the highly radioactive waste and how it will select appropriate sites, to deepen understanding of the facilities.

But officials in Fukushima Prefecture rejected the ministry's request to hold such a session. They cited the burden of the on-going scrapping of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

They also referred to building of intermediate storage facilities in the prefecture for contaminated soil and other materials from cleaning-up work in Fukushima.


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3 juillet 2015 5 03 /07 /juillet /2015 18:03

Buddhist monk promotes peace through release of anti-nuclear manga in Sri Lanka

June 29, 2015

Hadashi no Gen in Shinhalese

By KO IWAKI/ Staff Writer

With his home country of Sri Lanka having been embroiled in decades-long conflicts, Thalangalle Somasiri felt moved after reading the manga series “Hadashi no Gen” (Barefoot Gen), which depicts the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

The peace-loving Buddhist monk released volumes 1 and 2 of "Hadashi no Gen" in Sri Lanka this spring after translating them into Shinhalese, one of the country's widely spoken languages.

Somasiri, 55, is the chief priest of one of the most famous temples in Sri Lanka called Sama Maha Viharaya, known as "Heiwa dera" (peace temple) in Japanese, in the suburb of Colombo, the former capital of the country.

He visits Japan a few times a year and participates in Buddhist missionary outreach to compatriots at Lankaji temple in Katori, Chiba Prefecture, located near Narita International Airport.

At age 12, Somasiri entered the Buddhist priesthood. He came to Japan for the first time in 1988 to study at Taisho University in Tokyo. He has published Japanese textbooks and books about old Japanese tales in Sri Lanka. Somasiri is also a member of the Japan P.E.N. Club, a gathering of writers seeking peace and championing freedom of expression.

Last summer, Yoko Matsubayashi, a 76-year-old Buddhist nun living in Yokohama whom Somasiri has long known and calls his “mother,” introduced him to the "Hadashi no Gen" series.

Somasiri soon finished reading the manga, written by Keiji Nakazawa (1939-2012), which is about the author’s own experiences depicted through the protagonist, Gen, as a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

The attitude of Gen trying hard in his life teaches us the significance of peace and courage,” said Somasiri.

Conflicts in his home country persisted for about 25 years up until six years ago. More than 70,000 people are reported to have been killed in the combat and terrorism, and Somasiri’s temple provided a temporary shelter to about 20 children orphaned by the violence, and other victims of the chaos.

Moved by the manga series, Somasiri revisited the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima last autumn. Those experiences cemented his determination to translate the series to make it available in Sri Lanka.

To do so, Somasiri awoke two hours earlier in the morning than usual and worked on the translation of the manga until 5 a.m., when he performs Buddhist chants as a daily service. Somasiri said he asked Matsubayashi the meaning of words expressed in a Hiroshima dialect and Japanese slang in the manga via an Internet call.

At the end of March, Somasiri was celebrated for the first publication of the Shinhalese editions of "Hadashi no Gen" at the Lankaji temple. Matsubayashi also joined the celebration there.

The monk set a goal of publishing all 10 volumes of the series in Sri Lanka within five years.

He also plans to translate “Nagasaki no Kane” (The Bells of Nagasaki), written by Takashi Nagai (1908-1951), a doctor, about his experiences as a survivor of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945.

It is a duty for a religious person, like myself, to pray for peace,” said Somasiri.


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2 juillet 2015 4 02 /07 /juillet /2015 17:48

July 1, 2015

IAEA reviews safety of TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant

NIIGATA, Japan (Kyodo) -- A team of nuclear experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday began reviewing the safety of Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant on the Sea of Japan coast in Niigata Prefecture, as called for voluntarily by the utility.

During the review through July 13, the so-called Operational Safety Review Team of the international nuclear watchdog will evaluate and give advice on TEPCO's accident prevention measures and its emergency responses at the world's largest nuclear station.

On Tuesday, the experts visited the plant and conducted an on-site probe based on international safety standards. The 12-member team is expected to compile a report in around three months, according to TEPCO.

TEPCO, the operator of the radiation-leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station destroyed by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, seeks to reactivate the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant as soon as possible to improve its business, which has suffered as a result of the massive costs it has incurred for compensation and decontamination after the Fukushima accident.

The company's earnings are also dwindling due to higher imported fuel costs for fossil power generation in the absence of nuclear power. Currently, all of Japan's nuclear reactors are offline pending the Japanese regulator's assessment based on a set of new safety requirements adopted after the Fukushima accident.

July 01, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)

June 30, 2015

IAEA inspection begins at nuclear plant in Japan

Jun. 30, 2015 - Updated 12:26 UTC+2

The UN nuclear agency has begun a safety review of a nuclear power plant in northern Japan.

The review at the plant in Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture began on Tuesday. Some of the 12 inspectors are officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and others are outside experts.

The 12 were separated into 5 groups to inspect the plant, which is operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company.

This is the first IAEA safety review at a Japanese nuclear plant since the Fukushima accident in 2011.

The team is led by Peter Tarren of the IAEA's Operational Safety Section.
Tarren led one of the groups that inspected a new emergency generator installed on a 35-meter hill as a measure against tsunami. It was built after the March 11th 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Other groups examined safety measures that include a device called a filtered vent installed on reactor containment vessels and a 15-meter-high breakwater.

During their 2-week review, the inspectors will assess the plant's safety measures and its ability to handle emergencies according to international standards. They plan to make recommendations for improvements if necessary, and will submit their final report to the government in about 3 months.

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2 juillet 2015 4 02 /07 /juillet /2015 17:46

July 1, 2015


Shape-changing robot built to photo melted fuel at Fukushima reactor


By HIROMI KUMAI/ Staff Writer

YOKOHAMA--Toshiba Corp. unveiled a shape-shifting robot that could finally reveal the actual condition of melted nuclear fuel at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

The robot will likely be deployed in August in the No. 2 reactor containment vessel for the first survey underneath a reactor core at the plant, Toshiba officials said at a June 30 demonstration for reporters at its Keihin works here.

Equipped with two cameras and light-emitting diodes, the robot will be tasked with taking pictures of the melted fuel.

More than four years after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami caused the triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant, high radiation levels are still preventing workers from approaching the reactor containment vessels to accurately assess the damage within.

“We hope the robot will gather as much information as possible with the two cameras,” a company official said.

According to Toshiba officials, the probe was developed at the request of the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, an organization consisting of electric power companies and nuclear reactor manufacturers.

To pass through narrow spaces, the probe transforms into a 54-centimeter-long tubular shape that measures 9 cm in width and 9 cm in height.

The back part of the robot, which contains one of the cameras, can be rotated to take pictures from different angles.

The device can also right itself if it overturns, Toshiba said.

The probe will enter the central part of the containment vessel through a rail link and operate on the iron-mesh floor beneath the reactor core.

The robot can identify objects up to 3 meters away, even in poor visibility caused by steam or other factors, according to Toshiba.

Robotic probes developed by another company were used to survey the No. 1 reactor containment vessel at the plant in April, but those devices did not enter areas directly underneath the reactor core.

One got stuck between obstacles on the floor, rendering it inoperable.

A monitoring camera installed in the containment vessel to control the second robot later malfunctioned because of high radiation levels, forcing plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. to give up its plan to retrieve the robot.



Scorpion robot for Fukushima

A robot developed by Toshiba Corp. is demonstrated at its laboratory in Yokohama Tuesday. As Japan struggles in the early stages of a decades-long cleanup of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Toshiba developed the robot, which raises its tail like a scorpion and collects data, to hopefully locate some of the melted fuel in the stricken reactor 2. | AP

Business / Tech

Toshiba rolls out ‘scorpion’ robot to look inside crippled reactor at Fukushima No. 1


by Mari Yamaguchi


YOKOHAMA – A new robot that raises its tail like a scorpion is scheduled to survey melted nuclear fuel inside one of the three wrecked reactors at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Toshiba Corp., codeveloper of the device, which was demonstrated on Tuesday, said the robot will venture into reactor 2′s primary containment vessel in August after its operators undergo a month of training.


Officials hope the robot can see the fuel in the pressure vessel in the middle of the reactor. The location of the fuel has yet to be pinpointed because of the dangerously high radiation levels nearby.

The unprecedented work of decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which was crippled in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, is expected to take decades.

The scorpion robot is the second to enter a primary containment vessel, after a “snake” robot was sent into the worst-hit reactor 1 in April. The robot stalled inside the reactor and was unable to spot melted-fuel debris there.

This time, the scorpion crawler, which is 54 cm (21 inches) long when it is stretched out, will enter through a duct designed as a passageway for fuel rods.

During the demonstration at a Toshiba lab near Tokyo, the robot slid down a railing and stretched out like a bar, with a head-mounted LED showing its way. After crawling over a slight gap and landing on a metal platform, the robot lifted its tail and looked up the bottom of the control rod drive, a structure above the platform simulating where some melted nuclear fuel might be left.

The scorpion also demonstrated it can roll back upright if it hits an obstacle and rolls over. The ability comes from a tail joint in the middle that bends.

One operator controls the robot with a joystick, and another monitors the video feed from the robot and other data. At the Fukushima plant, the robot will be operated remotely from the command center in a separate building.

The work is expected to take a full day. The robot is designed to tolerate radiation, which should allow it to stay inside reactor 2 for more than 10 hours.


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2 juillet 2015 4 02 /07 /juillet /2015 17:43

Source : Greenpeace


Greenpeace warns Europe is failing to learn lessons from Fukushima

Nuclear regulators and the Commission must strengthen stress tests

Press release - June 29, 2015

Brussels – A new report published today by Greenpeace [1] found that Europe's nuclear regulators have failed to act on vital lessons from the Fukushima catastrophe, exposing Europeans to the risk of a nuclear accident. The release coincides with the bi-annual conference of the European Nuclear Safety Regulator Group (ENSREG) held in Brussels.

Greenpeace nuclear energy expert Jan Haverkamp said: “Europe has failed to learn some of the vital lessons from Fukushima and remains woefully unprepared for similar accidents. We call on the Commission and regulators to act now to ensure that European nuclear operators address these serious safety concerns.”

The report analyses national action plans that are based on a series of nuclear ‘stress tests’ [2] set up in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011. It found that several countries in Europe have failed to implement crucial protection measures against earthquakes, floods and hydrogen explosions, and the installation of proper pressure safety valves to prevent the release of radioactivity into the environment in case of accident. The lack of such valves at the Fukushima reactor forced operators to face the dilemma of risking over-pressurisation and explosion, or releasing radioactivity and therefore contaminating the environment and population.                                                    

In a communication on the Energy Union last February [3], the European Commission said the EU should have the world's safest nuclear generation by using the highest standards of safety, security, waste management and non-proliferation.

ENSREG was mandated by the European Council and the European Commission to carry out the stress tests and is expected to present the results of its own peer-review of national action plans.

For more information:

Jan Haverkamp, expert consultant on nuclear energy and energy policy, Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe:, +48 534 236 502

Roger Spautz, climate and energy campaigner, Greenpeace Luxembourg:, +352 621 233 361

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911,

Notes to editors:

[1] Critical Review of the Updated National Action Plans (NAcP) of the EU Stress Tests on Nuclear Power Plants, June 2015, Greenpeace e.V.

[2] Greenpeace assessments of European nuclear stress tests:
Nuclear stress tests – flaws, blind spots and complacency, June 2012, Greenpeace EU Unit.

Updated review of EU nuclear stress-tests, April 2013, Greenpeace EU Unit.

[3] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank, A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy, Brussels (2015), COM(2015) 80 final.



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30 juin 2015 2 30 /06 /juin /2015 22:05

June 30, 2015

Gov't to raise maximum annual radiation exposure ahead of restart of nuclear reactors


The government will raise the maximum permissible radiation dose for people including local government officials and bus drivers who will give evacuation guidance to local residents or transport materials in the event of a nuclear accident from the current 1 millisievert per year.

At the time of the outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, efforts to evacuate and transport materials were hampered because a sufficient number of necessary people such as government staff were not secured for the local task force near the crippled nuclear power complex. The government plans to set a new standard for a permissible upper limit of radiation exposure in order to ensure steady and smooth evacuation of local residents as part of preparations ahead of a restart of idled nuclear reactors. But it is likely to raise concerns among local governments near nuclear power plants over whether they will be able to secure sufficient staffing numbers.

The government plans to set up a working group within the Cabinet Office as early as next month to start discussing a new standard. The new maximum permissible radiation dose will be applied mainly to local public servants other than police and fire department officials and local bus and truck drivers.

Under the scheme worked out by the then-Nuclear Safety Commission in 1999, those people who are supposed to guide local residents to evacuate, among other tasks, in the event of a nuclear accident are listed as "persons in charge of anti-disaster operations." Of such people, police and fire department officials as well as national public servants and other relevant personnel are allowed to be exposed to up to 100 millisieverts per year in emergency situations -- far higher than 1 millisievert set for ordinary residents. On the other hand, there is currently no special standard for a permissible upper limit for such people as local government officials and bus drivers and they are subject to the same standard as that for ordinary local residents even in emergency situations.

The working group to be established in the Cabinet Office will be comprised of seven experts including Nagasaki University Vice President Shunichi Yamashita. Apart from the Cabinet Office, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the nuclear regulatory agency, industry organizations such as the Nihon Bus Association will join the working group.

The working group will ascertain radiation doses to which workers such as local government officials were exposed while working outside the premises of the crippled Fukushima nuclear complex. Based on the findings, the Cabinet Office and the health ministry will set a specific maximum permissible radiation dose.

Currently, nuclear plant workers are allowed to be exposed to up to 100 millisieverts per year and decontamination workers 50 millisieverts per year. The then-Nuclear Safety Commission had held the view that the "appropriate" level of the permissible maximum radiation dose for "persons in charge of anti-disaster operations" was 50 millisieverts per year. But before the commission formally decided on the standard, the Fukushima nuclear accident occurred. A Cabinet Office official in charge said, "As it is possible that local officials and bus drivers will carry out their duty where radiation levels are relatively high, we need a new standard in order to provide effective evacuation guidance as well."

June 30, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)


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