Wednesday, December 19, 2012

So, How Many Nuclear Reactors, Out Of 54, Are OK?

Since main stream media will not do the math, I thought I would give it a try. There used to be 54. But, four at Fukushima Dai-ichi are gone due the the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Major meltdowns.

Do we have 2, or 10, or 20, or more nuclear reactors that could actually do the job, in Japan? What is their status?

Let's start with a map, found on wikipedia.

Then, let's go from north to south.


Three reactors, the only plant in Hokkaido. "...the Tomari power facility in Hokkaido, said that it could not rule out the possibility that the plant was vulnerable." Source NHK World 20120229 and JAIF (pdf).

So, 50-3=47


So,  only one reactor, but more planned. Now, this is where things tend to get interesting:

Although the plant was in maintenance shutdown during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the April 7th aftershock caused the loss of all external power and the plant had to switch to backup power to supply cooling to the spent fuel pool where the reactor's fuel rods were being stored.[4][5]
On 24 October 2011 a research group under professor Mitsuhisa Watanabe of the University of Toyo published a report that raised questions about the seismic safety of the plant-site. A number of faults are present under the complex and in this study it is unclear whether these faults might be active, as some experts noted recently in the NISA safety-screening process. In the study, the researchers said that certain characteristics are typical for the existence of active faults under the plant site, when they analyzed the surveys conducted by the two utilities for constructing the reactors there. Tohoku Electric and TEPCO, denied that there were active faults, and said that the faults were shaped by the swelling of water-bearing strata. Professor emeritus from Hiroshima University, who took part in the analysis, criticized the utilities for this denial. The new report might have an effect on the decision whether to resume operations of the reactor, and could also affect the earthquake-proof safety screenings of other nuclear plants. [6]

So, shall we say, 47-1? That leaves us with 46.

Next, Onagawa. Very interesting, here we have three Toshiba reactors, all part of TEPCO that no doubt everyone knows is now in dire straits. All kinds of small "incidents" and minor leaks. Also, a fire due to the March 11, 2011 earthquake, "from the turbine section." Could they all three go on line? We have had all kinds of strong aftershocks in the same region, but... I will give them the benefit of the doubt, but that is not saying I think they are ok.

Next, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant that I visited a few years ago, and blogged about for Treehugger. It was horrific. They had no way to deal with that earthquake, it was a huge mess. Buildings were in disarray. We were on a bus but were not allowed to get off and take photos. Remember, this was before March 11, 2011. The plant was very damaged, as far as I could judge.

This is the world's largest nuclear "plant" and I do not like the word, "plant" which seems incongruous with the lack of anything actually organic, or growing. The world's most humongous electricity provider, K-K if you want to make comments, since the name of the two small towns are impossible to remember or spell... Back in beautiful Niigata, such an obscure monster, with huge power lines feeding straight into the 30 million people living in Tokyo-Chiba-Saitama from these shores.

I will spare you the technical jargon. What I saw when I visited was a mess. That was from the 2007 earthquake. No go. They will never be online at 2013, as "planned" due to all kinds of troubles. That leaves us with 46-7=39.

Next, Fukushima 1 and 2 (Dai-ichi and Dai-ni)

The four reactors at Fukushima 1 are the world's largest problem. How about the four reactors at Fukushima 2?

Let's count them out, shall we. No way they will be deemed "safe" after all those huge aftershakes and all kinds of trouble. This could, however, be a major issue as Tokyo "needs" electricity. Fukushima 2 may be part of a PR battle to get nuclear power to the capital. But, I don't think so.


Next,  Shika.

On 16 July 2012 research done by the Japanese government did reveal the strong possibility that the S-1-fault beneath the power station might be active. Raising doubts about the claim made by the company in 1997, that it is inactive. It is not allowed to built a nuclear reactor above an active quake fault. If these findings would be confirmed, the Shika power station could be labeled as sitting on premises ineligible for a nuclear power plant. 

Not sure yet, so let's just exclude them. 35-2=33.

Next, Tokai in Ibaragi. Both are now closed down. 33-2=31.

On 11 October 2011 Tatsuya Murakami, the mayor of the village Tokai, said in a meeting with minister Goshi Hosono, that the Tokai Daini reactor situated at 110 kilometer from Tokyo should be decommissioned, because the reactor was more than 30 years old, and the people had lost confidence in the nuclear safety commission of the government. [11]
In 2011 and 2012, about 100,000 signatures against the resumption of the plant's operation, halted since last year, were submitted to Ibaraki Gov. Masaru Hashimoto. The petition urges the prefectural government not to allow the Tokai power station to resume operation, saying, "We should not allow a recurrence of the irretrievable sacrifice and loss as experienced in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident".[12]

Do stay with me, I am only trying to go through the list, as of December 2012


Next, Mihama. Unclear how bad the seismic faults are. This is right net to the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant, that is also on our current map. I would rather see it all shut down, since the stakes are so high, and the data is not conclusive. This is all too near to Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe for anyone to feel safe.

On 12 November 2011 at 7:45 PM local time a fire broke out in the No. 1 reactor. After a switch for a spare electrical device at the water processing facility was operated by a worker, the fire was ignited because a short circuit caused a series of hot sparks. After the fire was put out, no casualties were reported. JAPC said that there was no leakage of radiation, because the reactor was closed for inspection.

The whole region of Kansai is dependent on Lake Biwa because it is the source of drinking water for the whole region...

Mihama 3 and Tsuruga 2 (another 2 planned) so we get 31-5=26

Next, (interesting how Kansai cities like Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe have nuclear reactors close by, while Tokyo kept them much further away, in Fukushima and Niigata) we go to Monju, Takahama

...not much we know about Takahama, I'd say we had better pay more attention. But, so far, four that are not on line, and in a lot of doubt. Thus we get 26-4=22.

On 17 February 2012, Kansai Electric Power Co. announced that on 21 February 2012 reactor no. 3 would taken off the grid for a regular checkup and maintenance. After that date, only two commercial nuclear power plants were still operating in Japan: The no. 6 reactor of TEPCO at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in prefecture Niigata, which was scheduled for checkups on 26 March 2012, and the No. 3 reactor at the Tomari plant in Hokkaido of Hokkaido Electric Power Co.; there regular maintenance was planned in late April 2012.[2][3] From 5 May until 1 July 2012, Japan had no operating nuclear power plants. In July Ōi Nuclear Power Plant units 3 and 4 became Japan's only operating nuclear power plant.

And then there is Oi.

The Ōi Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear power plant located in the town of Ōi, Fukui Prefecture, managed by the Kansai Electric Power Company. The site is 1.88 square kilometres (460 acres).[1] As of December 2012, Ōi Units 3 and 4 are Japan's only operating nuclear power plants.

Where were we? 22?

How about Shimane. Two nuclear reactors at this plant.

The English wikipedia page has some dubious links. Not good. Unless wiki gets better, we are still at 22 nuclear plants for Hokkaido, and Honshu.

There are three more plants, however, on Kyushu and Shikoku.


On 9 December 2011 a leak was discovered in the cooling-system of reactor 3. After a temperature-rise over 80C at the base of one of the pumps an alarm was triggered, but this alarm did not indicate the leakage of 1.800 cubic meter of radioactive water, because the water did not go outside the purification system. After the leak was discovered Kyushu Electric failed to report the troubles in full to the local government. Only the failure of the pumps in the system for the No. 3 reactor were mentioned.[13]

As of September 2012, Saga prefecture is aiming to have the Genkai reactors permanently retired after 40 years of operation, meaning that reactor 1 will close in 2015.[14] A citizens' group sued to have the reactors shut down immediately, but the state argued that there is no process in Japanese law that could cause an industry's operations to cease through a civil, rather than criminal, action.[15


On 14 December 2011 the Kyushu Electric Power Company published the outcome of the primary safety assessments or "stress-tests" for three of its suspended nuclear reactors: two of them located at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in prefecture Kagoshima Prefecture, the third at was located the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Saga prefecture. The reports were sent to the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. The papers were also sent to the local authorities of the prefectures where the plants were located, because the reactors are not allowed to be restarted without their consent. According to the test, the reactors could withstand a seismic shock of 945 to 1,020 gals and tsunami-waves of a height of 13 to 15 meters. The power company asked its customers to reduce their power-consumption by at least 5% after 26 December, because at 25 December the number 4 reactor in Genkai would be taken out of operation for regular check-ups. Nuclear power generation did account for about 40 percent of the total output of the company, according to company official Akira Nakamura. He said that restarting reactors was crucial for them, and that the company will do all it can do to win back public-trust. However, Hideo Kishimoto, the mayor of Genkai said that it would be difficult to resume operations. He asked Kyushu Electric to disclose their practices in full, besides their efforts to prevent future accidents.[2]



Maintenance in 2011

On Sunday 4 September reactor no. 1 was shut down for regular inspections. These check-ups would last at least three months. At that time reactor No.3 was also shut down, although the normal inspections were long time finished before September. To resume operation, a stress test was required for all suspended reactors by the government, after the accidents in Fukushima. The Ehime prefectural government said it would decide whether to approve the resumption of operations after the results of the safety test came out. The Shikoku Electric Power Company said that if the No. 3 reactor did not resume operations, power supplies would be very tight in winter when electricity demand would be high. It was considered to restart a thermal power-plant which had been long out of use. [5]

Nuclear evacuation drill held in 2012
In February 2012 an evacuation drill was held in the prefecture Ehime and Shimane. The drill was done to mimic the situation of a reactor cooling failure after a huge earthquake. The evacuation-zones were expanded from 10 to 30 kilometers after the disaster in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In this evacuation drill some 10.000 people were taken out of the area round the nuclear power plant, with buses, helicopters and boats of the Maritime Self-Defense Force. The residents in the town of Ikata, commanded by disaster announcements on the radio to gather at a junior high school. From there they were taken by buses to a shelter some 50 kilometers further. This drill was the very first ever executed on this scale, and it was also the first time that so many people were evacuated out from their town. [6] [7]

Ikata is one of the plants that may use MOX fuel.

20-22 "maybe OK" nuclear plants? But what to do about the radioactive waste, the plutonium, the dangerous fallout from all kinds of minor/major incidents...?


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