News Watch 121 (November/December 2007) Nuke Info Tokyo No. 121
HLW Dump: Central Government Enters the Fray
Since 2002, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NUMO) has been publicly calling for applications from local authorities to host a high-level radioactive waste (HLW) dump. However, it still has no candidates for even the first stage, which only involves a document study. Responding to this failure, on September 12 the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) proposed to the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy’s radioactive waste subcommittee that, in addition to the NUMO process, the central government should be allowed to submit applications to local authorities seeking their agreement for studies. The subcommittee agreed with this suggestion. Public comments on the proposal have been invited and an official decision is planned after these have been considered. Comments submitted so far include the following:
- The power companies were responsible for producing the waste and power companies set up NUMO to undertake HLW disposal on their behalf, so it is very odd for the government to submit applications to local authorities.
- There is a danger that the government will select a candidate site by force.
Fabrication of MOX Fuel for Kyushu/Shikoku Electric
On September 3rd and 10th respectively, Kyushu Electric and Shikoku Electric applied to the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry for inspection of documents related to the import of MOX fuel that will be used in their Genkai-3 (PWR 1,180 MW) and Ikata-3 (PWR 890 MW) reactors. In both cases the fuel will be fabricated at France’s Melox Plant. Fabrication for Kyushu Electric’s Genkai-3 commenced on October 9th. For Genkai 16 assemblies will be fabricated, while 21 assemblies will be fabricated for Ikata.
Design Approval Sought for 4S Reactor
On October 23rd, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a pre-application meeting in relation to design approval of the “4S” reactor. The 10-50 MW sodium-cooled small fast reactor was jointly developed by Toshiba and the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI). “4S” stands for “super-safe, small and simple”. The town of Galena in Alaska is considering a proposal to use this reactor (see NIT 105).
Benches & Tables Produced Using Radioactive Waste
News Watch 119 reported that some of the steel scrap from the decommissioning of Japan Atomic Power Company’s Tokai-1 reactor (GCR 166 MW) had been “cleared” for treatment as non-radioactive waste. On October 10th, it was reported that this steel had been turned into benches, tables and radiation shields. It was reported that the radiation shields had been sent that day to the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (also in Tokai Village, Ibaraki Prefecture), but the destination of the benches and tables was not stated.
FNCA Panel Considers Human Resources Development
From October 30th – 31st in Tokyo the Japan-led Forum for Nuclear Cooperation in Asia (FNCA) held a panel discussion on nuclear cooperation in Asia. Participating countries reported on the current status of human resources development in the field of nuclear power. Japan’s presentation included knowledge management methods to ensure safe use of nuclear power and human resources development know-how for countries considering introducing nuclear power.
TEPCO to Support Construction and Operation of ABWRs in US
On October 12th, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TECPO) announced that it had signed a technology consultation agreement with US company STP Nuclear Operating Co. concerning construction and operation of ABWRs (Advanced Boiling Water Reactor). The contract is for a maximum of 3 years covering the period up to the award of a Combined Construction Permit and Conditional Operating License (COL) for South Texas Project reactors 3 and 4 (1,350 MW each). An application for a COL was submitted on September 24th. If the contract runs for the full 3 years, total consulting fees will be around 180 million yen.TEPCO provided technical design support prior to submission of the COL application. Under the new contract, TEPCO intends to provide advice in regard to the construction process, operational management, operator training, manuals and so on.
TEPCO in the Red in FY2007
On October 31st, TEPCO announced that it expects to make a loss in the 2007 Fiscal Year. It will be the first time since 1979 that TEPCO has recorded a net loss. TEPCO expects revenue from electricity sales to be satisfactory at 5.47 trillion yen, but due to the shutdown of all 7 reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa and high oil prices it predicts an overall loss of 95 billion yen (consolidated figures).The effects of the Chuetsu-Oki Earthquake include extraordinary expenses of 161.5 billion yen (122 billion yen for inspection and restoration work, 25 billion yen for engineering and repair of building-related equipment, and 14.5 billion yen in other expenses), as well as 2 billion yen to start up idled thermal plants and 440 billion yen for alternative fuel supplies and electricity purchased from other companies. This brings total predicted expenses resulting from the earthquake to 603.5 billion yen. This does not include work to improve the earthquake resistance of the plant. It is not yet known how much this will cost.
Additional fuel requirements due to the shut down of the nuclear power plant will include 5.1 billion liters of oil and 1.3 million tons of natural gas.
In the preceding period, TEPCO had raised dividends by 10 yen to 70 yen per share for the first time in 7 years, but it was forced to cut dividends to 65 yen per share this time, while executive remuneration was cut by 10 – 20%. TEPCO will consider cutting salaries for ordinary workers in future, but President Tsunehisa Katsumata said that TEPCO is not considering increasing fees.
On October 31st, the same day as TEPCO’s announcement, Chubu Electric announced that it is considering cutting fees in April next year. There are indications that other companies will follow, so it is difficult for TEPCO to raise fees at this time.
It must be remembered that the above estimates are all based on the assumption that the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant will eventually be restarted. If this assumption proves to be incorrect, TEPCO will be unable to avoid greatly increased electricity generation costs.