Friday, May 06, 2011

Hamaoka Nuclear Reactors To Be Shut Down: Kan

This is something I was briefly involved in when I worked for Japan Offspring Fund, a small consumer organization. We wanted the Hamaoka Nuclear Reactors to be permanently shut down, because they are built in a very risky earth quake zone:


The Chubu Electric Power Co., Ltd insists that their Hamaoka reactors are 100% safe. In our opinion, the effects of an earthquake can never be predicted, so their assessment cannot be trusted. The Tokai megaseism could be up to 60 times as powerful as the 2004 Niigata earthquake. It is almost impossible to estimate where radioactive dust and debris, containing uranium, would fall as it depends on wind currents and wind speeds, as well as climate conditions. As radioactivity can stay in the atmosphere for long periods of time, it can fall anywhere and seriously pollute any spot on our rotating planet.

Seems Prime Minister Kan has the same feeling. Good. This is the kind of news that should go viral in an age when most news is controlled by people who get paid to say "it is safe."

NHK World: Kan calls for halt of Hamaoka nuclear reactors

Prime Minister Naoto Kan says he has asked a utility company in central Japan to halt operations of all active reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, due to the risk of earthquakes.

Kan announced the decision on Friday, citing the need to better secure the plant against earthquakes and tsunami in the wake of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The prime minister says he has asked the plant operator, Chubu Electric Power Company, to halt reactors No.4 and No.5, and not to restart reactor No.3, which is now offline for regular inspections.

The Hamaoka plant in Shizuoka Prefecture has 5 reactors. Reactors No.1 and 2 are permanently shut down for decommissioning.

The reactor complex sits directly above the projected focus of a magnitude-8 class earthquake that experts have long warned of.

The plant's safety risks have been repeatedly pointed out by lawmakers during Diet debates.
Friday, May 06, 2011 19:47

Sometimes, life gives you small rewards.


Update 1: BBC has the story (thanks guys) Japan PM orders halt at Hamaoka nuclear plant


Addressing a news conference on Friday, Mr Kan said the five-reactor Hamaoka plant, operated by the Chubu Electric Power Company, had been ordered to suspend two running reactors and a third shut for a regular inspection.
The Hamaoka plant, which lies 200km (120 miles) south of Tokyo, is in Shizuoka prefecture - an area which seismologists say is overdue for an earthquake.
"The relevant authorities, including the science ministry, have shown that the possibility of a magnitude 8.0 earthquake hitting the area of the Hamaoka plant within the next 30 years is 87%," Mr Kan said.
"This is a decision made for the safety of the people when I consider the special conditions of the Hamaoka plant."
Mr Kan said the government would work to prevent power supply problems arising from the decision.
He said safety measures, including the construction of sea walls, would need to be implemented at the plant before operations resumed.


Update 2: NHK quotes Kan, who noted:

Kan said that although power shortages might occur when demand surges in the summer, he is confident that with the cooperation and understanding of the public, the nation can overcome such difficulties.

Update 3: NHK World (more details late Friday night)


Kan calls for halt of Hamaoka nuclear plant

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has asked a utility firm in central Japan to halt operations of all active reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, due to the risk of earthquakes.Kan told a hastily arranged news conference on Friday evening that he made the decision in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The prime minister said he asked Chubu Electric Power Company that operates the Hamaoka plant to halt reactors No.4 and No.5, and not to restart reactor No.3, which is now offline for regular inspections. The plant in Shizuoka Prefecture has 5 reactors, but units No.1 and 2 are permanently shut down for decommissioning.


The Hamaoka complex is known to sit directly above the projected focus of the Tokai Earthquake that experts have long warned of. Kan said that a science ministry panel on earthquake research has projected an 87-percent possibility of a magnitude-8-class earthquake hitting the region within 30 years.

He said that considering the unique location of the Hamaoka plant, the operator must draw up and implement mid-to-long-term plans to ensure the reactors can withstand the projected Tokai Earthquake. Kan also said that until such plans are implemented, all the reactors should remain out of operation.

Chubu Electric has declined to respond immediately to the prime minister's request. But Kan said he will try hard to win the company's understanding. The prime minister added that his government will do its utmost to ensure the stoppage of the reactors does not seriously affect power supplies in Chubu Electric's service areas.

Kan said that although power shortages might occur when demand surges in the summer, he is confident that with the cooperation and understanding of the public, the nation can overcome such difficulties.


Friday, May 06, 2011 21:02 (NHK)




Update 4: AFP/Yahoo



"This is a decision made for the safety of the people when I consider the special conditions of the Hamaoka plant," Kan said, adding: "I made the decision myself as prime minister."
Kyodo News agency reported that Chubu had agreed to suspend operations.
Japanese anti-nuclear campaigners have long argued that the seismically unstable area, where two major continental plates meet, makes Hamaoka the most dangerous atomic facility in the quake-prone archipelago.
Heita Kawakatsu, the governor of Shizuoka prefecture, where the plant is situated, has expressed his strong opposition to resuming operations at the closed reactors, saying that anti-tsunami measures were inadequate.
Kan said the government made the decision after "taking into account the enormous impact a serious accident at the Hamaoka nuclear plant would have on the Japanese society as a whole".
"It is necessary to steadfastly implement measures on a middle- and long-term basis, including construction of sea walls which can fully withstand an anticipated Tokai earthquake," he said.
After the March 11 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at Fukushima, leading to partial meltdowns and explosions, Chubu Electric said it planned to build a water barrier 12 metres tall or higher.
Greenpeace hailed Friday's news.
"Greenpeace welcomes Prime Minister Kan?s request to close Hamaoka, one of the most dangerous nuclear reactors in Japan," said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan executive director.
"This is the first time a prime minister has directly requested a nuclear plant in Japan be closed. However, it cannot be the last."
"Fukushima has provided a stark reminder of the consequences of nuclear power, and there are many other dangerous reactors still online.
"The government must continue to close and decommission existing plants, cancel all new reactor builds and put Japan on a course for a future powered by renewable sources of energy.
"Only then can the Japanese people feel their government is truly putting their safety first."

3 comments:

Pandabonium said...

Perhaps this situation will help break or at least loosen the grip that Japanese industrial interests have on governance here.

What the hell possessed these people to build a number of reactors on top of a fault which is almost certain to have a major event occur in coming years? (Greed, I know - it was a rhetorical question.)

Of course, people in Japan are also dying of eating raw beef ribs, liver, etc. and the consumption of proteins of all kinds (milk, beef, pork) are causing greatly rising rates of cancers. Where's the concern, the government oversight, there? Seems corporate interests trump all in way too many arenas, and watchdog groups are neither consistent nor logical in choosing which problems to address.

The best ways to fight nuclear energy? Start by using less electricity!

Martin J Frid said...

Thanks P., lots of good comments and insights. Why DID they build the reactors on the beaches? Why DO people eat raw beef? Why DON'T we get even better at using less electricity?

Martin J Frid said...

Thanks jaeme, best wishes with your efforts in The Philippines. I was very interested in reading about San Miguel, Bulacan farmers, and hope you can continue to promote organic farming, in spite of floods and drought.