We previously reported (NIT No. 168) that Unit 1 (PWR, 890 MW) at Kyushu Electric Power Company’s Sendai NPS was restarted on August 11 and began generating and transmitting electricity on August 14. This ended nearly two years of zero reliance on nuclear power in Japan, dating from September 15, 2013. On October 15, Unit 2 of the same plant (PWR, 890 MW) was also restarted, and began generating and transmitting electricity on October 21.
In addition, a preoperational inspection of Unit 3 (PWR, 1,180 MW) at Kansai Electric Power’s (KEPCO’s) Takahama NPP began on August 17, and an application for Unit 4 (PWR, 1,180 MW) to undergo a preoperational inspection was filed with the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on October 14. Regarding these two reactors, however, a temporary injunction was handed down by the Fukui District Court on April 14, prohibiting their operation (see NIT No.166). These preoperational inspections are going forward in defiance of the injunction, but unless the injunction is rescinded in accordance with KEPCO’s request, these reactors cannot be restarted.
Hoping to restart Unit 3 (PWR, 890 MW) at the Ikata NPS, Shikoku Electric Power Company (Yonden) received permission from the NRA to modify its nuclear reactor facilities to meet the new regulatory standards. On October 22, Mayor Kazuhiko Yamashita of Ikata conveyed his agreement to the restart to Governor Tokihiro Nakamura of Ehime Prefecture, who hand delivered his written prior approval to Yonden president Hayato Saeki on October 26. If approval is received from the NRA for the construction plans and changes in safety regulations, the conditions for the restart will be fulfilled.
Worse yet, if Takahama Units 3 and 4 or Ikata Unit 3 are restarted, it is thought that the reactor cores are likely to be loaded partially with MOX fuel.
The Tomioka Labor Standards Inspection Office in Fukushima Prefecture formally recognized on October 20 that a former male employee who developed leukemia after being exposed to radiation during clean-up operations at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FDNPS) was a case of a work-related illness. The man worked at a number of nuclear power plants as a construction company employee from November 2011 to December 2013, during which time he spent more than a year from October 2012 in work that included installing covers on the damaged reactors at FDNPS. His cumulative exposure dose was 19.8 mSv, of which 15.7 mSv came from his work at FDNPS.
Thus far, eight workers have filed for worker’s accident recognition with regard to recovery work at the disabled Fukushima plant, but this is the first case to receive recognition. Three of the cases did not receive recognition, and three are still under investigation. In one case, the application was retracted.
The refugees displaced by the Fukushima nuclear accident have formed the “Nationwide Refugees Association to Seek the ‘Right to Refuge,’” holding a founding assembly in the House of Councilors Members’ Office Building on October 29. Refugees from Fukushima Prefecture numbered more than 100,000 as of the end of September (of which about 44,000 had taken refuge outside the prefecture), but it is not known how many refugees have moved from locations outside Fukushima Prefecture to other places. The total number of refugees from the Great East Japan Earthquake, including those who left for reasons other than the nuclear accident, is said to exceed 190,000.
Suspecting the oceanic release of contaminated water as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident to be a violation of the Environmental Pollution Offense Law, on October 2 the Fukushima Prefectural Police sent the case, involving TEPCO as a corporate entity and 32 of its former and current officials, to the Fukushima District Court. The charges filed by the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Criminal Complainants group were accepted in September 2013 and the investigation has proceeded since that time.
The Tokyo High Court on October 26 upheld the Tokyo District Court’s decision on February 26 ordering removal of three tents erected on METI’s premises by a citizens group that has continued to appeal for denuclearization, and ordering payment of about 21,000 yen per day for use of the space, dismissing the citizens group’s appeal. The tents were erected on September 11, 2011, and have been maintained for more than 1500 days.
To stop the flow of about 400 tons per day of contaminated groundwater from the site of the FDNPS into the port, an impervious wall with a total length of about 780 meters was completed in the port on October 26. Construction of the wall began in April 2012 and was nearly completed by that summer, with the exception of a portion of about 10 meters. This was left open because if it were blocked, the water table at the site would rise due to groundwater flowing into it, increasing the amount of groundwater flooding the reactor buildings (see NIT No.166).
Operations to pump up groundwater from the sub-drains in the vicinity of the buildings and release it into the sea commenced in September 2015, and it was decided to close off the opening in anticipation of the start of pumping and release of sub-drain groundwater near the impervious wall in October. The flow of groundwater into the port is expected to decrease to about 10 tons per day.
The Japanese government held a meeting of ministers involved in the permanent disposal of high level radioactive waste on October 6, and drew up an action plan for measures to deal with spent fuel. The action plan incorporates the establishment of consultative conferences consisting of the government and nuclear power companies, a request to the companies to draw up plans promoting measures for spent fuel, and a review of the subsidy system that favors dry cask storage in particular.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., announced on October 9 that it had concluded a memorandum of understanding on comprehensive cooperation with France’s major electric power and gas company, Engie (formerly GDF Suez), on technical development in the energy field. Their fields of collaboration will span a diverse range, including thermal power, nuclear power and renewable energy.
The Japan Atomic Company (JAPC) and Marubeni Utility Services, Ltd. announced their conclusion of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation with the National Atomic Company Kazatomprom Joint Stock Company of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the field of nuclear power. In his talks with President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was the first to sign the memorandum, expressed his intention for Japan to participate in the planning for nuclear power facility construction in Kazakhstan.