All 6 Kyushu Electric reactors shut down for first time in over 30 years

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SAGA —Kyushu Electric Power Co said Monday that it has shut down the No. 4 reactor at its Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture for routine inspection. The shutdown now leaves Japan with only six of its 54 nuclear power plants in service.

According to TBS, the inspection was originally scheduled for mid-December, but was postponed. A planned maintenance on the 559-MW Genkai No. 1 reactor also started on Dec 1, meaning all of Kyushu’s six reactors at two nuclear plants have been closed for the first time in 31 years with no definite schedule for restarts.

The Genkai No. 4 reactor was the first to resume operations in Japan following the March 11 earthquake. The reactor automatically shut down on Oct 4 due to equipment trouble caused by human error, following which it reached full capacity in November.

The Genkai reactors were in the news after the Fukushima disaster after a meeting was organized to inform the people in the district and to get permission to restart the reactors. The meeting was broadcast live on TV and the internet, and viewers were invited to submit their opinions by e-mail or fax.

However it became known, that the board of the Kyushu Electric Power Company had specifically instructed employees of the plant to sent emails to this meeting with positive mails for the restart. Later was admitted that not only employees of the utility but the workers of 4 affiliated firms too—more than 1,500 people in total—were involved in this. A big scandal broke out in Japanese media, because the whole meeting appeared to be manipulated.

In 2011 the company was criticised for attempting to deceitfully manipulate public opinion in favor of reactivating two reactors at the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant.

While the power utility is seeking to restart these reactors at an early date, no specific time period has been given for the agency’s screening of the reports.

No early restart is expected as the problem of Kyushu Electric’s manipulation of public opinion on nuclear power plant safety is still pending in addition to the safety assessment process.

At Genkai, Unit 3 has been selected as a special Plutonium fuel test case.

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. The operator of the plant said, that the water leaked from a joining area of the pumps, with no radioactive materials leaking outside the reactor building, and that the water was completely recovered.

The amount of radioactive material, that escaped, was unknown. According to NISA the leak in the purification system of the reactor did nor constitute an immediate safety problem, but NISA urged the firm to investigate the cause.

However the lack of information and the incomplete report was much to the annoyance of the mayor of Genkai Hideo Kishimoto: he said, “It should have reported properly (to the Genkai town and Saga prefectural governments). I have been repeatedly telling it to change its corporate culture.”


  • July 17, 1998 there was a leakage in the Condenser of Unit 1 while operating at full power. The problem caused the plant to be run at a lower power for some time.
  • January 20, 1998 In Unit 3 during a routine test, leakage of one fuel assembly was discovered.
  • March 31, 1999 There was a problem in Unit 2 with damage to pressure tubes of the Steam generator.

Source: Mainichi

Source: Japan Today

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