News Watch 113 (July/August 2006) Nuke Info Tokyo No. 113
Green light for MOX use at Shimane
On June 16th, Nobuyoshi Sumita, governor of Shimane Prefecture, told the prefectural assembly that he “basically approves” the planned use of MOX fuel at Chugoku Electric’s Shimane-2 reactor (BWR, 820MW). It is reported that the governor will wait for the decision of Matsue City before sending his response to Chugoku Electric. The city of Matsue has adopted a cautious attitude and is not expected to respond to Chugoku Electric until after September, after a symposium scheduled for August. (Hideyuki Ban, a co-director of CNIC, will participate as a panelist).Governor Sumita explained that he will allow the utility to apply to the central government for a license. He will not grant final approval until the government completes the safety assessment. However, his final approval will be a formality, as the prefecture does not plan to do its own assessment or to hold a public hearing. In regard to a newly discovered active seismic fault just south of the nuclear power plant, he takes the view that “that is a different issue”.
Kyushu Electric sends delegation to Melox
Kyushu Electric Power Company, which proposes to use MOX fuel at its Genkai-3 reactor (PWR, 1180 MW), sent a mission to the Melox MOX fuel plant of the French nuclear conglomerate Areva. The mission visited the plant on July 4th and 5th to observe the operation of the quality control system. Inevitably the report from the mission will conclude that there are no problems with the plant as a source of MOX fuel, thus paving the way for a decision to order MOX fuel for Genkai.
License application for “clearance”
On June 2nd Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPCO) submitted an application to the Minister of Economy Trade and Industry for approval of its method of measuring and evaluating the radioactivity concentration of decommissioning waste from the Tokai nuclear power plant (GCR, 166MW). The approval has been sought in order to receive “clearance” for a portion of the metal that will arise when the reactor building is dismantled. JAPCO hopes to obtain clearance for approximately 2,000 tons of metal. (The clearance system was established through an amendment to the Reactor Regulation Law in May 2005. It allows radioactive waste with less than a certain concentration of radioactivity to be treated as non-radioactive waste (see NIT 104, 105 and 106).)If the application is approved, JAPCO will measure and evaluate the radioactivity, then submit another application for confirmation of the results. Approval of this application will make it possible for the company to remove the metal from the Tokai plant.
In accordance with a nuclear industry agreement, metal which is cleared will not be circulated in the public sphere for the time being. It is proposed that the metal from Tokai be used at the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex, which is jointly owned by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency and the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization.
Hitachi and GE to receive US order
On June 21st, NRG Energy, a nuclear major in the US, announced plans to build two new nuclear reactors (total 2700 MW). It is reported that the reactors will be ABWRs manufactured by Hitachi and GE. Though the contract will not be signed officially until next year, if Hitachi is chosen this will be the first direct order from a US utility to be received by a Japanese manufacturer.
CFIUS approves Toshiba’s WH acquisition
On June 5th, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Treasury said that the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) had approved the merger and acquisition of Westinghouse by Toshiba. According to news reports, Toshiba will provide 57% of the capital, with the remainder coming from Marubeni (20%), U.S.-based construction firm Shaw Group (20%) and Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industry (3%).