TEPCO still unable to find leaks at Fukushima plant
Tokyo Electric Power Company said workers used an infrared camera on Tuesday to search for the leaks in the suppression chamber at the No.2 reactor.
It was hoped that the infrared images would reveal the leakage spots by showing the temperature difference between the water and the air.
But the images failed to show a big gap in temperatures.
TEPCO studied huge tsunamis in in-house training
Before the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan’s nuclear operators estimated the maximum heights of the tsunamis each of their reactors could be expected to encounter, based on detailed calculations by the Japan Society of Civil Engineers.
At Fukushima Daiichi’s reactor units 1 through 4, that height was 5.5 meters, but the tsunami that hit Fukushima Daiichi on March 11 came in at 15 meters — 9.5 meters higher than the supposed maximum — knocking out power and initiating the Fukushima disaster.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it failed to make use of an in-house study conducted by a group of TEPCO employees in 2006 that estimated what would happen at the plant’s No.5 reactor if it was hit by waves higher than 5.7 meters, the maximum height assumed by the company.
The group estimated that if the waves exceeded 13.5 meters, all power would be lost and it would be impossible to inject water into the reactor.
The study also said it would only cost 25 million dollars to implement measures to prevent such an occurrence.
TEPCO says the study session was conducted as training for junior employees, and that the company did not really expect such a large tsunami.
TEPCO made another estimate in 2008 to determine the effects of a 10-meter-high tsunami on nuclear reactors.
But on both occasions, the company failed to make use of the studies’ results and did not take any measures against possible disasters.
Monju R&D could cost 290 billion yen
Research and development costs will be reduced significantly if Japan decides to terminate a plan to develop its Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor, science ministry estimates revealed Tuesday.
Total costs will be limited to 6 billion yen to 8 billion yen per year for basic research if the plan is scrapped, while up to 290 billion yen will be additionally needed over the next 10 years to promote the development, according to estimates submitted to the Japan Atomic Energy Commission on the same day.
The ministry said that it will push forward with research and development to put the Monju reactor into practical use if the country’s dependence on nuclear energy remains at the current level and all atomic fuel is recycled.
Source: The Yomiuri
Basketball lost in tsunami returned
A basketball that drifted to Alaska after being swept away by last year’s March 11th tsunami has been returned to junior high school students in northeastern Japan.
The basketball was found in March on an Alaskan island by a local high school student.
Japan to consider new nuclear emergency video conferencing system
The government is considering introducing a video conferencing system that would enable municipalities within 30 kilometers of a nuclear power plant to maintain contact with the central government and power companies in case of an emergency.
The government hopes to establish the video conferencing system by the end of March 2013.
The government has also proposed a plan to connect the Prime Minister’s Official Residence with the Ohi nuclear power plant and its operator, Kansai Electric Power Company, in connection with the plan’s restart.
Japan Govt Asks Producers, Retailers to Promote LED Lights
The Japanese government on Wednesday asked electronics producers and retailers for efforts to promote the use of energy-efficient light-emitting diode lights in place of incandescent light bulbs.
At a promotional event in Tokyo the same day, Senior Vice Environment Minister Katsuhiko Yokomitsu said, “We will have to take energy-saving measures again this summer” due to expected electricity supply shortages.
Source: JiJi Press
Japan’s N-Power Dependence Falls to 10.7 Pct in FY 2011
Japan’s dependence on nuclear power in fiscal 2011 to March plunged 17.9 percentage points from the previous year to 10.7 pct, lowest since 7.2 pct set in fiscal 1977, an industry group said Wednesday.
Source: JiJi Press
Major Parties Agree on Bill on Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The ruling Democratic Party of Japan on Tuesday reached a broad agreement with two major opposition parties on a bill to create a new nuclear regulatory commission.
At a working-level meeting, participants from the DPJ, the biggest opposition Liberal Democratic Party and second-biggest New Komeito agreed to limit the prime minister’s authority to give instructions at the commission in case of severe nuclear plant accidents and other emergencies.
The government and the DPJ previously argued that it is crucial for the prime minister to retain the authority to give instructions.
Source: JiJi Press
Even if quick restart Oi reactors won’t be at full power by late July
Kansai Electric Power Co. probably won’t be able to bring reactors 3 and 4 at its Oi nuclear plant up to full output before late July even if the central government and host communities give the green light within the week and efforts to fire them back up begin this weekend.
Fukui Gov Issei Nishikawa said Tuesday he has confirmed that safety measures have been implemented at the Oi nuclear power plant, suggesting his readiness to endorse later this week the restart of two idled reactors at the plant.
As for yet-to-be-implemented safety measures, including a plan to establish a quake-proof building for accident management, Nishikawa said basic steps are in place and he thinks “necessary responses can be taken” in the future.
During the three-hour tour, the governor checked a drill for emergency electricity generation equipment and observed the inside of a reactor containment vessel.
Kepco will begin the reactivation process after the government gives the final go-ahead, working on one reactor at a time. Each is expected to take about three weeks to reach full operations. Reactor 3 will be started first.
For reactor 3, the utility expects it will take about 10 days to clean its water and steam pipes to remove impurities.
This will be followed by checks to pipes and valves inside the reactor container vessel and equipment to move control rods, which are used to adjust the reactor’s output. Then, power generation will start, and the reactor will go into full operations two or three days later. These procedures will take about 10 days.
The same procedures will be taken for reactor 4 after reactor 3 starts full operations.
Kepco will use a special boiler to wash the pipes and restart the halted reactors. The boiler can handle only one reactor at a time.
If the restart process were to start Saturday, both reactors would reach full capacity around July 27.
Source: The Mainichi
Source: The Japan Times
Lessons from Fukushima crisis at nuclear safety seminar in Singapore
As the effects of a disaster can cross borders, nuclear safety is important even to countries without plans to adopt nuclear energy, said Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli on Wednesday.
The Fukushima nuclear crisis last May showed that nuclear accidents can and do happen, said Mr Masagos. Such events could have ‘serious cross-border consequences’ such as environmental and food contamination, disruptions to trade and travel, public anxiety, and slower economic growth, he added.
Source: The Straits Times