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Tomari-3 begins commercial operations
Hokkaido Electric Power Company's Tomari-3 Nuclear Power Plant (PWR, 912 MW) began commercial operations on December 22. That brings the number of operating nuclear power plants in Japan at the end of 2009 to 54. Their total generating capacity is 49,112 MW. (See map.)

Kaminoseki-1 license application
On December 18 Chugoku Electric Power Company applied to the Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry for a reactor establishment license for its planned Kaminoseki-1 Nuclear Power Plant (ABWR, 1,373 MW). At the same time Chugoku Electric submitted an amendment to its electric power supply plan, postponing by two years the date for commencement of construction of Kaminoseki-1 to June 2012 and for commencement of commercial operations to March 2018. The scheduled date for commencement of construction of Kaminoseki-2 (ABWR, 1,373 MW) was postponed to Fiscal Year 2017 and for commencement of commercial operations to FY2022.

On December 15, before applying for the license, Chugoku Electric submitted a claim for damages to the Iwakuni Branch of the Yamaguchi District Court against two residents of Kaminoseki Town and two people from outside the town. It is claiming about 48 million yen in damages resulting from obstruction of work to reclaim an area of the surrounding sea for construction of the plant. (See NIT 133.)

Onagawa pluthermal safety endorsement
Tohoku Electric Power Company's pluthermal plan for its Onagawa-3 Nuclear Power Plant (BWR, 825 MW) has been undergoing a safety assessment. The Nuclear Industrial and Safety Agency (NISA) confirmed the safety of the plan and submitted its assessment to the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) for a double check. On December 24 NSC advised the Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry that NISA's assessment was appropriate.

On the same day, Miyagi Prefecture, Onagawa Town and Ishinomaki City held a safety review meeting. Miyagi Prefecture and Onagawa Town concluded that it is possible to maintain the basic safety of the plant. Ishinomaki City withheld judgment on the grounds that a citizens' study committee is still in progress.

Ikata pluthermal to start in February
On December 25 Shikoku Electric Power Company announced the schedule of implementation of pluthermal at its Ikata-3 Nuclear Power Plant (PWR, 890 MW). It plans to load MOX fuel at the beginning of February, achieve criticality by February 22 and begin generating electric power on February 24. These dates might change if the seismic safety assessments being carried out by the central government and Ehime Prefecture have not been completed by then.

KK-7 resumes commercial operation, KK-6 delayed again
Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Units 6 and 7 (ABWR, 1,356 MW each) have been undergoing trial operations for several months and on December 28, for the first time in two years, KK-7 finally resumed commercial operation. (Refer previous issues of NIT for details.)

Meanwhile, KK-6, which was scheduled to resume commercial operations on December 25, was delayed again due to control rod problems. Each control rod has two systems for indicating its position. On December 23 it was discovered that one of the systems for one of the control rods indicated an incorrect position. As a result the government's test was postponed. Manual shutdown was commenced on December 25 and completed the following day. The position indicator will be inspected and replaced.

Fuel cycle facilities delayed
On December 4 Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd (JNFL) announced a delay from November 2009 to May 2010 in its schedule for commencing construction of its MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility in Rokkasho. The scheduled date for completion of construction remains unchanged at June 2015.

On the same day JNFL announced that introduction of the first of its new design centrifuges at its Uranium Enrichment Plant in Rokkasho would be delayed from December 2009 to April 2010 and commencement of operation would be delayed from March 2011 to September 2011. JNFL said that removal of the existing centrifuges was taking more time than expected. When JNFL's Uranium Enrichment Plant began operating in 1992 the aim was to reach a capacity of 1,500 ton SWU per year by 2004, but although a capacity of 1050 tSWU/year was installed, one after the other the centrifuges were stopped. Now only about 100 tSWU/year remains operational.

South Korea seeks US approval for reprocessing
The Yomiuri Shimbun reported on December 22 that the South Korean government is seeking approval from the US government to reprocess spent nuclear fuel within its own territory. South Korea is said to have requested an amendment to the South Korea-US bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement during a meeting between officials. Apparently the US is not favorably disposed to such an amendment.

Mitsubishi to participate in uranium exploration in Mongolia
On December 21 Mitsubishi Corporation announced that it had agreed with France's Areva to participate in uranium exploration in southeast Mongolia. Areva has been conducting uranium exploration activities in Mongolia for over ten years. Over time Mitsubishi will have the right to acquire 34% of the equity capital of Areva's wholly owned subsidiary Areva Mongol "in exchange for a proportional contribution to Areva's past and future expenditures in Mongolia."

MHI exports Reactor Heads to US
On December 24, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries announced that it had shipped a replacement Reactor Vessel Closure Head (reactor vessel head + control rod drive mechanism) to South Texas Project (STP) Nuclear Operating Co. for its STP Unit 2 reactor (PWR, 1,354 MW). It is due to arrive in February 2010. A Reactor Vessel Closure Head which MHI exported for STP Unit 1 (PWR, 1,354 MW) arrived in August 2009.

Vietnam National Assembly approves nuclear power plan
On November 25 the Vietnamese National Assembly approved the government's plan to construct nuclear power plants for the first time. Vietnam plans to build two 1,000 MW nuclear power plants each in two locations in the southern province of Ninh Thuan. The plants at the first location are scheduled to commence construction in 2014 and begin operation ion 2020.

FNCA Ministers' Meeting
On December 16 in Tokyo the Forum for Nuclear Cooperation in Asia (FNCA), of which Japan is the host nation, held its tenth ministerial level meeting. The meeting was attended by ministers from Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. The meeting passed a resolution, which included a nine-point program of things the countries agreed to work toward.

A particularly pernicious aspect of the resolution was its support for including nuclear power under the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol and the crediting mechanisms in the post 2012 international framework on climate change.

Expert Committee Finalizes Report on International Issues
On December 18, an expert committee of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission looking into international issues finalized a report at its fifth meeting. The report proposed that Japan should consider actively promoting Japan's nuclear energy record as an international model for non-nuclear weapon states. It also recommended that Japan should stress the role of nuclear energy in addressing climate change and that the government should, as appropriate, provide financial and insurance support for the international expansion of Japan's nuclear industry. The report mentioned the need for Japan to maintain its international technological edge and to develop its human resources.

The report recommended that Japan should reconsider the issue of nuclear cooperation with India, given that the Nuclear Suppliers Group has already granted an exemption for India allowing cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

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