Posts Tagged nuclear

Japan’s Necessary Nuclear Future | The Diplomat

The Diplomat tackles the thorny issue of Japan’s energy needs and how they can be met.

The people’s outrage at the nuclear industry is understandable. However, while this is hardly a time that lends itself to thoughtful reflection, that is precisely what is in order.

Before the earthquake, Japan produced a third of its electricity from nuclear power. The shutdown of six nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, and a further three at Chubu Electric’s Hamaoka plant at the request of Prime Minister Naoto Kan, removes from the grid over 8GW of electrical capacity, or roughly half of what is required by the city of Tokyo. Taking all of Japan’s nuclear power plants off line would result in almost 50GW of lost electrical capacity, nearly equivalent to that of Australia.

via Japan’s Necessary Nuclear Future | The Diplomat.

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Energy Shift Japan! | Japan For Sustainability

A friend forwarded me a ezine from Japan For Sustainability. (I’m a little leery of the term “sustainability”, especially after reading this article by Jeffrey Tucker, but let that pass). It included synopses of a number of interesting articles, some of which I might introduce here later, and I also discovered this map:

Trends in Electric Power Suppliers and Municipalities with Nuclear Power Plant

Trends in Electric Power Suppliers and Municipalities with Nuclear Power Plant

Trends in Electric Power Suppliers and Municipalities with Nuclear Power PlantsThe massive earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011 caused tremendous damage, and at the same time, this earthquake and the following tsunami have triggered a serious nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co. TEPCO. Meanwhile, this accident has spurred the country to review about nuclear power generation. In this context, we will deliver you information about moves in electric power suppliers and municipalities that have nuclear power plants, as well as trends in the nuclear power policy at the government level.We will do our best to carry out the whole process of summarizing related news reports in Japanese, translating them into English, and uploading them to this webpage within three days after coverage by the Japanese media, with the aim of conveying you this kind of information on a real-time basis. However, please note that we, Japan for Sustainability, is operated mainly by volunteers and that there is only so much we can do.

via Energy Shift Japan! | Japan For Sustainability.

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World critical of Japans failure to disclose info : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE The Daily Yomiuri

The 5th installment of Yomiuri newspaper’s series on the Fukushima nuclear crisis. As mentioned before, these articles contain interesting content, but overall they are somewhat confusing, or possibly confused. The articles seem to be trying to find fault, yet they also include information that seems to refute the criticism.

For example, TEPCO has in earlier news been criticized for not acting promptly, and yet in this article we are told that not even the French nuclear experts have been able to make progress because of large amounts of contaminated water in key areas. The same may hold true for the apparent delay in opening vents to prevent the hydrogen explosions.

This is the fifth installment in a series focusing on delays in implementing emergency steps by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. to deal with the unprecedented nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.Many countries have grown frustrated with and distrustful of the Japanese government for its poor handling of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis and its failure to disclose relevant information after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11.

grueling questions thrown at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency’s Deputy Director General for Nuclear Safety, Koichiro Nakamura, at a small-group session of a review meeting for contracting parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety in Vienna on April 6.

The session was held to check Japan’s compliance with the terms of the treaty. In addition to representatives from the group’s 12 member countries, about 200 international representatives and experts attended–an unusually large number.

“I doubt any of the foreign participants were satisfied with Japan’s explanation,” said a visibly disappointed European diplomat.

A Russian expert was more critical, saying: “If nuclear plants are built on the coast, it’s foreseeable that a major tsunami could occur. Despite being a technologically advanced nation, Japan has no robots that can be used at nuclear plants!”

South Korean experts were the most disgruntled. “Despite being neighbors, Japan did not tell us beforehand that it would be discharging contaminated water into the sea. Communication on disaster relief and assistance between [South Korea and Japan] is not good enough,” he said.

John Roos, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, was at times annoyed with the lack of detailed information coming from Japan.

At one point his embassy had difficulty finding out exactly whom to contact over the issue–Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Prime Minister’s Office, or concerned ministries–and was therefore unable to determine the assistance Japan needed.

Roos tried to collect relevant information by phoning Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda and other Democratic Party of Japan Diet members he knew personally.

The United States even attempted to gather information independently using a spy satellite and an unmanned surveillance plane, a Global Hawk, possibly indicating a lack of confidence in the Japanese government.

A visiting expert from the U.S. government’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was reportedly frustrated with Akihisa Nagashima, a former parliamentary secretary of the Defense Ministry and now a DPJ member in the House of Representatives. At a meeting at TEPCO’s head office in Tokyo on March 18, the expert allegedly told Nagashima it was unclear who was actually in charge of managing the crisis.

About 20 experts from Areva SA, a French major nuclear reactor maker, arrived in Japan and are now stationed at joint task force headquarters set up at TEPCO and other places.

Since Areva has already operated nuclear fuel reprocessing plants, it is expected to provide TEPCO with the technology to remove contaminated water from the reactors.

Yet according to a TEPCO official, Areva has been unable to act. “It is unsafe for workers because radiation levels [near the nuclear reactors] are too high,” he said.

Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive officer of Areva, described the situation as both complicated and unprecedented. She noted the outlook for the plant seemed dismal and that the top priority was to find out what was going on.


via World critical of Japans failure to disclose info : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE The Daily Yomiuri.

Here are links to the other installments in the series:

  1. The first installment NUCLEAR CRISIS: HOW IT HAPPENED / Kan’s visit ‘wasted time’
  2. The second installment NUCLEAR CRISIS: HOW IT HAPPENED / Hydrogen blasts at plant surprised experts
  3. The third installment NUCLEAR CRISIS: HOW IT HAPPENED / Government radiation data disclosure–too little, too late
  4. The fourth installment NUCLEAR CRISIS: HOW IT HAPPENED / Government, TEPCO brushed off warnings from all sides


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Rural sports complex turns into base camp for nuclear workers | The Japan Times Online

The Japan Times provides more details of the working conditions at Fukushima, and reports on Kan’s visit there.
Update:I don’t think this is the complete truth, but this article and others on the same subject seem to indicate that the government and TEPCo are aware of people’s concern and anxiety over
a) the workers on the front-lines of this crisis, and
b) the secrecy that continues to shroud exactly what is going on in the plant.
One could be cynical and say the officials are trying to avert criticism and fob people off, but I take Edano’s statement of gratitude as 100% sincere (if a little late). As was Tokyo mayor Ishihara’s expression of thanks to the Tokyo Hyperrescue fire-fighting team.

“I humbly bow to the workers and officials who are engaged in various difficult work at the frontline of the nuclear plant,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Tuesday.

via Rural sports complex turns into base camp for nuclear workers | The Japan Times Online.

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Japan orders immediate safety upgrade at nuclear plants

Nuclear power stations in Japan - map

21:30 JST March 30: Japan ordered an immediate safety upgrade at its 55 nuclear power plants on Wednesday in its first acknowledgement that standards were inadequate when an earthquake and tsunami wrecked a facility nearly three weeks ago, sparking the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

via Japan orders immediate safety upgrade at nuclear plants. Also on Yahoo News.

I feel like saying “Bolting the door after the horse has gone”, but I suppose it is not completely a waste of time. Can the government enforce its own regulations, though? TEPCO were substandard in their safety procedures but they were granted their renewed license anyway.

Kansai Denryoku beat the government to it: they announced their across-the-board upgrading and strengthening and safety review earlier this week.

It was also pointed out to me by my better half that another reactor on the coast, further north at Onagawa, has not had any trouble at all. It is not owned by TEPCO but by Tohoku Electric Power company.

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Still No Need to Panic About Radiation Leaks at Fukushima? | Japan Probe

Lost in translation! Well done, Japan Probe. The original article includes a list of useful, informative links. Check it out. The comments are fun, too.

As time goes by, there hasn’t been much of a decline in the international panic and fear over the situation at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Reports about leaks localized within the buildings or immediate area of the nuclear plant are fueling new wild speculation about the threat to “Japan.”

Even when there aren’t new developments to report, the English language media manages to invent alarming new stories. Yesterday, the BBC, Associated Press, and other news agencies ran stories saying that Japan’s prime minister had announced the country was in state of “MAXIMUM ALERT” because of the nuclear situation. Kan’s actual words, “最大限の緊張感を持って取り組みたい” ( roughly: “(we are) working with the highest sense of urgency/alert”) was just a bland statement meant to convince people that the government is working hard to resolve the situation. The English translation favored by the BBC and AP misleadingly implied that Japan has a formal alert level system, which had just been increased because of new developments.

Below are some helpful links I’ve come across in the last several days. Those that are looking for level-headed rational examination of the risks might want to check some of them out. The information contained in the links might be particularly useful to residents of Japan who are struggling to explain the situation to hysterical overseas friends and relatives who are bombarding their e-mail inboxes with messages of nuclear doom.

via Still No Need to Panic About Radiation Leaks at Fukushima? | Japan Probe.

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Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor | World news | The Guardian

The headline is typical media hype, but this Guardian article contains a couple of nuggets (mouse-tip again to Marketing Japan):

In the light of the Fukushima crisis, Lahey said all countries with nuclear power stations should have “Swat teams” of nuclear reactor safety experts on standby to give swift advice to the authorities in times of emergency, with international groups co-ordinated by the International Atomic Energy Authority.

The warning came as the Japanese authorities were being urged to give clearer advice to the public about the safety of food and drinking water contaminated with radioactive substances from Fukushima.

Robert Peter Gale, a US medical researcher who was brought in by Soviet authorities after the Chernobyl disaster, in 1986, has met Japanese cabinet ministers to discuss establishing an independent committee charged with taking radiation data from the site and translating it into clear public health advice.

“What is fundamentally disturbing the public is reports of drinking water one day being above some limit, and then a day or two later it’s suddenly safe to drink. People don’t know if the first instance was alarmist or whether the second one was untrue,” said Gale.

via Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor | World news | The Guardian.

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Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log

This is very good. I’ve added the IAEA website to my list of sources.

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident Update (23 March, 20:00 UTC)

Brief update on state of Fukushima Daiichi reactors

Japanese authorities today announced a number of developments at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where reactor cooling systems were disabled following the massive earthquake and tsunami on 11 March.

At Units 1, 2, 3, and 4, workers have advanced the restoration of off-site electricity, and the lights are working in Unit 3’s main control room.

Black smoke was seen emerging from the Unit 3 reactor building, spurring the temporary evacuation of workers from Units 3 and 4. The emission of smoke has now decreased significantly.

via Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log.

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