1 octobre 2014 3 01 /10 /octobre /2014 21:33

October 1, 2014

Nuclear risk center chief urges change in mindset


Oct. 1, 2014 - Updated 10:43 UTC+2

The head of Japan's newly established Nuclear Risk Research Center has urged everyone involved with nuclear energy to change their mindset.

The center opened on Wednesday as part of the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry, which is run jointly by Japanese power companies.

Center chief George Apostolakis served on the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission until June. He specializes in analyzing risks at nuclear plants.

The center's aim is to pinpoint such risks, including those at plants that have met government requirements to restart, and to help power companies fix the problems.

Apostolakis said Japan has been slow to introduce risk analysis, perhaps because most people think everything that meets government requirements is safe. He added that such attitudes must change, to ensure safety.

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1 octobre 2014 3 01 /10 /octobre /2014 21:31


 September 30, 2014

Former Tokai mayor says Japan is sleep-walking toward further nuclear disasters



by Keiji Hirano


TOKAI, IBARAKI PREF. – The Fukushima nuclear disaster reflects a failure by the government to learn from Japan’s first deadly nuclear accident 15 years ago in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, according to the village’s former mayor.

Speaking to around 350 people at a public meeting there Sunday, Tatsuya Murakami said the nation glossed over the Tokai disaster and upheld a “myth” about the safety of nuclear power.

“Japan was caught up in a safety myth, that a serious nuclear accident would not happen in this country,” he said.

The accident at a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in the village occurred on Sept. 30, 1999. It left two people dead.

He said the safety myth and failure to clarify exactly why the accident took place led to mistakes that resulted in the Fukushima debacle.

The accident in Tokai, about 130 km northeast of Tokyo, killed two employees of operator JCO Co. and exposed more than 600 residents to radiation. The critical state lasted around 20 hours, through the next day.

Six JCO employees and the company itself were faulted for the accident. Workers using buckets had poured too much uranium solution into a processing tank, which led to a nuclear fission chain reaction.

Focusing on the use of buckets and calling it “an unexpected problem,” the government and the nuclear industry placed the responsibility for the accident solely on JCO.

The former mayor said what officials should have done was “determine the problems of a nuclear-dependent society as a whole.”

Murakami stepped down as mayor a year ago after 16 years in office and now works as a co-representative of Mayors for a Nuclear Free Japan, a body that comprises nearly 100 former and current mayors who campaign to phase out nuclear power.

When the Tokai accident occurred, the local and central governments seemed unable to take the lead in responding. Murakami stepped in, taking a unilateral decision to evacuate residents within 350 meters of the JCO compound.

After the Fukushima disaster, the then-government of the Democratic Party of Japan declared that the nation would aim to phase out nuclear power by 2040.

But the current government, under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of the Liberal Democratic Party, decided this year to support the continued use of nuclear power and upheld commitment to the nation’s spent-fuel recycling projects.

“To some extent, the DPJ government was reflecting public opinion. But the Abe government has refused to hear what the people say,” Murakami said. “In such circumstances I fear another nuclear disaster may happen.”

Another speaker addressing the meeting was Keiko Oizumi, a former worker at a factory near the JCO plant. She and her husband filed for compensation against JCO and parent company Sumitomo Mining Co. for damage to their health, but in 2010 the Supreme Court threw the case out.

Oizumi spoke of how she sometimes gets to meet evacuees from Fukushima. She also described how she still sees mental-health specialists.

“I have suffered general malaise, depression, sleeplessness and other symptoms, and I still see psychiatrists,” Oizumi said. “I always think I could have lived a normal life if it were not for nuclear power. . . . The JCO accident completely changed my life.”

She said she feels the pain of Fukushima evacuees as her own.

People do not bleed if they are exposed to radiation, but they bleed in their hearts,” she said.

Oizumi urged supporters to take their demands to those in power.

“We should not accept reactor restarts,” she said. “Now is our only chance to terminate nuclear power.”


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1 octobre 2014 3 01 /10 /octobre /2014 21:29

October 1, 2014

Evacuation advisory lifted for part of Fukushima village of Kawauchi



KAWAUCHI, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – The government lifted its evacuation advisory Wednesday for the eastern part of Kawauchi, which is located within 20 km of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The eastern Kawauchi area became the second place to see the advisory lifted in the former no-go zone set up in Fukushima Prefecture after the start of the triple meltdown at the Tepco power plant, triggered by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The advisory for the Miyakoji district of Tamura, in the same prefecture, was removed in April.

The restricted residential area in Kawauchi was also realigned as a zone preparing for the evacuation advisory to be lifted.

About 275 residents from 139 families will be affected by the advisory’s lifting, while the zone realignment will affect 54 residents from 18 families, according to data as of June 1.

Only those who have been temporarily living in their own houses under a long-stay program for the preparation zone are expected to make a swift return. The number of such people totaled 48, from 22 families, as of Thursday. The other residents would likely refrain from returning home soon, partly because living conditions remain difficult.

The central government and the municipal government of Kawauchi plan to invite supermarket operators to open stores by the end of next March.

In April 2012, the eastern Kawauchi area, which had been part of the no-go zone within a 20-km radius of the crippled nuclear plant, was realigned into preparation and restricted residential zones, depending on radiation levels.

In both zones, displaced residents were allowed to visit their homes during the daytime. But on April 26 of this year, residents in the preparation zone were allowed to stay there for three months, which the government attributed to progress in decontamination work.

Evacuation order lifted in Fukushima village


Oct. 1, 2014 - Updated 02:58 UTC+2

The Japanese government has lifted an evacuation order for part of Kawauchi Village near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The measure -- for the eastern part of the village in Fukushima Prefecture -- took effect on Wednesday at midnight. It affects 274 residents in 139 households.

The government says decontamination has been completed in the area. The roads and other infrastructure have been rebuilt, and utility services are up and running.

This is the second time an evacuation order has been lifted since the 2011 accident, after the Miyakoji district in Tamura City in April.

Residents can now stay in their homes and reopen restaurants or other businesses.

But some have expressed concern that a drop in radiation levels is not sufficient for a return to their former lives. Others complain that shopping and medical services are inconvenient.

Because of this, not all former residents are expected to return to the village.

Also on Wednesday, the government re-designated some areas of the village where overnight stays had been prohibited as zones preparing for the return of residents.

An evacuation order is still in place for 10 municipalities around the Daiichi plant more than 3 and a half years after the accident, affecting some 80,000 people. Entry or overnight stays are limited in some areas.

The government has designated evacuation zones in 3 categories according to radiation levels. Evacuation orders are to be lifted after decontamination is complete.

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1 octobre 2014 3 01 /10 /octobre /2014 21:27

October 1, 2014

Under strain, utilities halt new access to clean energy


By KUNIAKI NISHO/ Staff Writer

Three regional utilities have temporarily suspended grid access for new clean energy producers, citing the risk of overload.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Tohoku Electric Power Co., and Shikoku Electric Power Co. said they will not accept new applications from renewable energy developers as of Oct. 1.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Okinawa Electric Power Co. have already limited such access.

The move threatens the government's alternative energy push following the Fukushima nuclear crisis that unfolded in 2011.

The utilities said any further increase in their purchase of new energy through the government's feed-in-tariff system could cause blackouts and other glitches due to the limited capacity of their electricity distribution networks.

The government introduced the feed-in-tariff program in July 2012 with the aim of doubling the country's renewable energy dependence from around 10 percent to more than 20 percent.

The program offers attractive rates to alternative energy developers and triggered a boom in clean energy projects, particularly solar power.

The suspensions were announced during a meeting of the industry ministry’s New and Renewable Energy Subcommittee on Sept. 30. The ministry set up a working panel the same day to decide the next step.

Okinawa Electric suspended new orders for clean energy from early August, while Kyushu Electric started limiting access from Sept. 25.

The utilities, excluding Okinawa Electric, will continue to purchase surplus energy produced by households.

According to the industry ministry, about half of the solar energy producers using the feed-in tariff system are in the utilities' service areas.

The availability of inexpensive, large land lots has helped solar energy production expand in the zones. They do not cover the three major metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

Solar energy production capacity fluctuates greatly depending on time of day and season, the utilities said. A surge in energy supply can impair utility distribution equipment and cause blackouts.

The industry ministry's working panel will discuss measures to encourage utilities to continue increasing the procurement of renewable energy, such as creating a system to allow regional utilities to exchange surplus electricity.

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1 octobre 2014 3 01 /10 /octobre /2014 21:25

September 30, 2014

TEPCO signs cooperation pact with Sellafield


Sep. 30, 2014 - Updated 07:20 UTC+2

Tokyo Electric Power Company has signed an agreement with a British company aimed at gaining technical knowhow in decommissioning nuclear power reactors.

It will get input from Sellafield in decommissioning its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant damaged by the 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami. The utility is facing challenges including the buildup and leakage of contaminated water, as well as the management of working conditions of 5,700 workers per day.

Sellafield has expertise in decommissioning nuclear reactors and handling nuclear accidents.

In 1957, a fire occurred at a reactor belonging to its predecessor, resulting in the leakage of radioactive materials.

TEPCO hopes that the knowhow provided by Sellafield will help reduce the radiation exposure of its workers. It also hopes for guidance on technical aspects and personnel training related to the analyses of groundwater and seawater.

The agreement is the first of its kind signed by TEPCO with an overseas company.

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1 octobre 2014 3 01 /10 /octobre /2014 21:22


 October 1, 2014

Kagoshima reactor restarts unlikely before January




The restart of reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture appears unlikely before January, as the plant’s operator only submitted the necessary documentation to regulators on Tuesday, months later than originally planned.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. submitted roughly 600 pages of documents concerning reactor 1 — one of two reactors at the complex that have obtained safety clearance by the Nuclear Regulation Authority — but that accounts for only a fraction of the operator’s 20,000-page construction plan, which needs to be submitted for the plant to be restarted.

Kyushu Electric had originally planned to submit the documentation to the NRA in late May. It plans to submit the remaining documents, including those regarding reactor 2, later this month, company officials said.

Given the time required to screen the construction plan, which includes building and equipment specifications, and for obtaining local consent for the restart, the Sendai plant is unlikely to come back online before January.

Also on Tuesday, the cities of Ichikikushikino and Hioki, which are located within a 30-km radius of the Sendai plant, demanded that the Kagoshima Prefectural Government seek their consent for the plant’s restart.

The move by the two localities comes as Kagoshima Gov. Yuichiro Ito has taken the position that approval by the prefectural government and the city of Satsumasendai, which hosts the nuclear power plant, would be sufficient to allow Kyushu Electric to restart the plant.

The municipal assembly of Ichikikushikino, which lies just 5 km from the facility, adopted a written statement by a majority vote urging the governor to also seek the city’s approval, saying a number of residents had signed petitions against restarting the plant following the start of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The governor should “fully respect” the opinions of the residents, the statement said.

The municipal assembly of Hioki unanimously adopted a similar statement the same day, stating “It is unacceptable to restart (the plant) without the city assembly and the mayor” approving it, as the municipality could also be held responsible in the event of a severe nuclear accident.

At a press conference on Tuesday, industry minister Yuko Obuchi, who oversees the power industry, said “Obtaining consent from local communities is not a legal requisite for a restart.”

Currently, all of Japan’s 48 commercial reactors remain offline due to safety concerns following the triple meltdown in Fukushima. The two-reactor Sendai plant is the closest to resumption after the NRA in September said it meets new, tighter safety regulations adopted in the wake of the nuclear disaster.

With only some of the documentation submitted to regulators on Tuesday, Kyushu Electric has missed its end-of-September deadline, set after it failed to meet its original end-of-May deadline.

“In addition to a heavy workload, we’ve had countermeasures for severe accidents and other new items to deal with, so there really is no precedent we can look to for a guide,” a company official said about the delay.



Paperwork delays snarl restart of Sendai nuclear plant to next year




By TOSHIO KAWADA/ Staff Writer

Kyushu Electric Power Co. jumped through all hoops but one to get its Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture back online this year.

Its failure to submit all the necessary paperwork means the reactors are unlikely to be reactivated until 2015, even though the facility cleared tougher safety standards.

Kyushu Electric had planned to submit the paperwork to the Nuclear Regulation Authority by the end of September, but it did not get around to completing the procedures by Sept. 30.

The utility said it will take two to four weeks to prepare the remaining documents required for restarts of the plant’s two reactors in Satsuma-Sendai.

Even after the company obtains the green light from the NRA, the reactors must clear on-site inspections of equipment. That almost certainly will rule out restarts by the end of this year.

The nuclear watchdog on Sept. 10 formally cleared the reactors, the first such approval under stricter safety standards established after the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.

The NRA will continue examining whether the utility’s application documents meet the watchdog’s conditions. The screening and equipment inspections will each take a couple of months.

On Sept. 30, Kyushu Electric submitted only a portion of the documents to make corrections to its previous application for approval of construction plans that list safety measurements.

In addition to the remaining paperwork, the company is required to present documents to make corrections to its applications for approval of manuals stipulating safety measures while the reactors are in operation or in case of accidents.

The utility initially planned to submit all the necessary documents by the end of May. As the company installed new equipment and took steps to raise the plant's ability to withstand strong earthquakes, the documents have increased to more than 40,000 pages, causing a delay in its preparation.

Kyushu Electric officials expect to submit all relevant documents by the end of October.



September 30, 2014

Restart of Sendai plant may be delayed



Sep. 30, 2014 - Updated 12:23 UTC+2

A nuclear power plant in Japan's southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima may not be restarted before the end of the year.

This is due to a delay in procedures required for the restart.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority ruled earlier this month that 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Company's Sendai plant meet the government's new requirements for restart. The plant became the first facility to meet the tougher standards introduced after the nuclear accident at Fukushima in 2011.

In order to bring the reactors online, the operator had intended to submit for NRA approval further details on the equipment and devices in use by the end of September.
On Tuesday, the operator submitted 600 pages of documents. These are part of about 40,000 pages involving the Number 1 reactor.

The utility says it will submit the remaining documents on the reactor within a week or two, and that it hopes to submit all the documents for the Number 2 reactor by the end of October.

The NRA will then assess the documents and check the new equipment and devices.

The utility also needs the consent of local communities in Kagoshima Prefecture for the restart.

Even if it obtains the local approval, the restart will not happen until December at the earliest, and probably not until early next year.


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30 septembre 2014 2 30 /09 /septembre /2014 20:13

September 30, 2014

Water treatment facility at Fukushima plant suspended again


TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant said Monday its trouble-plagued radioactive water treatment system at the complex has been partially suspended again.

One of three treatment lines of the multinuclide removal facility was halted last week after Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, found water passing through it was getting cloudy.

The line was hit by similar trouble in March due to filter gasket corrosion. TEPCO later changed the filters and resumed its test run in May.

The company said it does not know whether the latest problem has again been caused by the filters, and has yet to investigate.

On Monday, TEPCO also said the Nuclear Regulation Authority approved the utility's plan to build another radioactive water treatment system with higher performance, which is expected to be capable of processing 500 tons of toxic water per day.

The company aims to finish processing around 400,000 tons of toxic water at the Fukushima complex by the end of March next year, but whether it can achieve that goal is unclear as the existing facility has continued to face problems.

September 30, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

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30 septembre 2014 2 30 /09 /septembre /2014 20:10

September 29, 2014

Hospitals nominally designated for radiation treatment double from 2011



The number of hospitals locally “designated” to treat radiation exposure has grown to 201 from 83 before the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a survey says.

But the survey, conducted by Kyodo News, also showed that the so-called designated hospitals, as of August, were still struggling with shortages of skilled personnel and equipment as central government pushes to restart dozens of idled reactors, many of them old.

The hospitals were designated by local governments as medical institutions that will provide emergency treatment for radiation exposure if nuclear accidents occur. But there are no requirements for receiving the designation — including number of doctors specialized in radiation treatment.

This step was advised through a report compiled by the now-defunct Nuclear Safety Commission after the deadly 1999 criticality accident at a uranium-processing plant in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority is reviewing medical preparedness for nuclear disasters as part of a package of initiatives introduced in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster but has not hammered out any specifics.

The survey was conducted from July to September, 15 years after the criticality accident at JCO Co. in Tokai on Sept. 30, 1999, which killed two people.

Responses were received from all 24 prefectural governments selected for their proximity to nuclear facilities.

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30 septembre 2014 2 30 /09 /septembre /2014 20:09

September 30, 2014

Ex-prime ministers call for nuclear-free Japan in rock festival


TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Two former prime ministers who have become antinuclear campaigners in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima crisis joined a rock festival event in Tokyo on Monday that brought together musicians opposed to nuclear power.

"We must create a country where nuclear power generation is zero. Let's develop our country without nuclear power," Junichiro Koizumi, a charismatic former leader, shouted from the stage in front of about 2,500 people and received applause.

Koizumi also told reporters later that an "unexpected event could happen anytime" at nuclear power plants in Japan, touching on the recent volcanic eruption of Mt. Ontake in central Japan, which occurred without warning signs and killed a number of climbers.

"In Japan, earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions could occur in various locations. It's a country not allowed to have nuclear power plants," he said.

Morihiro Hosokawa, another former prime minister, said he felt hope in antinuclear campaigning as he saw the eyes of youths at the festival "twinkling."

The rock event, organized by renowned Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, has been held annually since 2012.

Meanwhile, Koizumi and Hosokawa denied having intention to become involved in the Oct. 26 gubernatorial election in Fukushima Prefecture, home to the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

"People recognize (the importance of) breaking away from nuclear power. It will not be an issue that will be contested (in the election)," Hosokawa said.

All of the 48 commercial reactors in Japan are currently offline, but the government is pushing for the resumption of reactors that have cleared a set of new safety requirements introduced in the wake of the Fukushima accident.

September 30, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

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30 septembre 2014 2 30 /09 /septembre /2014 20:07

September 29, 2014

Landowners briefed on Fukushima waste storage plan


Sep. 30, 2014 - Updated 04:09 UTC+2

Landowners near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have voiced frustration at the government's plan to buy up their properties to build intermediate storage facilities for radioactive soil and other waste.

About 150 people took part in an Environment Ministry briefing on Monday. It was the first in a series of sessions aimed at outlining compensation plans for landowners in Futaba and Okuma towns.

The move comes as the Fukushima prefectural government earlier accepted construction of storage facilities in the 2 towns.

Ministry officials said they plan to purchase land at around half of its value before the nuclear accident.
The officials said compensation for housing would depend on the age of buildings. They said landowners who decline to sell but allow usage of their plots would be paid 70 percent of the purchase price.

They said the prefecture would effectively cover the difference between the properties' pre-disaster value and the amount of compensation.

Many landowners expressed their reservations.

A man from Futaba Town said the offered price fell short of what he expected, and that the officials spoke about the possibility of forcibly buying up land. He predicted that upcoming briefings would be rough.

A woman from Okuma Town said government officials seemed to care little about the feelings of people who will be deprived of their land.

The government wants to win landowners' understanding, and start shipping contaminated waste to the storage facilities in January.

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