NEWS WATCH from NUKE INFO TOKYO 67 (Sep./Oct. 1998)


from NUKE INFO TOKYO 67 (Sep./Oct. 1998)

— Request for Approval to Build Unit 3 at Tomari Plant Submitted
— Spent Fuel Shipped from Shika Nuclear Plant
— Plan to Construct Intermediate Storage Facility
— Active Fault Found Near Shimane Nuclear Plant
— Toshiba, Hitachi, and GE Consider a Joint Enterprise
— First Permit for a New Nuclear Plant in 10 Years

Request for Approval to Build Unit 3 at Tomari Plant Submitted

Hokkaido Electric Power Co. officially requested Hokkaido Prefecture, Tomari-mura and three neighboring municipalities on July 29 to approve plans to build an additional reactor, unit 3 (PWR 912 MW), at Tomari nuclear power plant. In response to this, the Prefectural Government has shown an unusually cautious attitude, stating that there is little necessity for such a plan in light of the recent balances between the demand/supply of electric power.
Behind this official attitude exists a widely-held public view that the issue should be put to a referendum. The town assemblies of Tomari-mura and three neigboring towns that had once invited the utility to build nuclear plants, will not do so in the case of unit 3. This is because construction of the other two plants has not led to community development, and people in neighboring towns and villages are concerned about the ill-effect of nuclear power on tourism and prices of farm products.

Spent Fuel Shipped from Shika Nuclear Plant

On July 15 Hokuriku Electric Power Co. shipped 84 spent fuel assemblies or 12 tHM discharged from Shika 1 (BWR, 540 MW) to reprocessing plants at Sellafield in Britain. This was the last shipment of spent fuel from Japanese light water reactors to overseas reprocessing plants. The remaining spent fuel to be transported to overseas reprocessing plants will be from decommissioned gas-cooled reactor at Tokai nuclear plant.
About 400 labor union members and citizens from Ishikawa Prefecture held a protest rally against the shipment and demanded that the power company ?not impose nuclear waste on foreign countries.

Plan to Construct Intermediate Storage Facility

Kansai Electric Power Co. and Japan Atomic Power Co. (JAPCO) on July 7 made the first announcement in Japan regarding their plan to jointly construct intermediate storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. According to the plan, they will decide on the facility site by the end of FY2000 and begin operations by FY2010. The plan was made in response to a strong request by the Fukui Prefectural Government. With this announcement, the power companies have been given permission by the Prefecture to store more used spent fuel at each of their plant sites until the time the intermediate storage facility has been completed.
JAPCO which also plans to construct Tsuruga 3 and 4 (APWR, 1300 MW-class each) announced the plan for the storage facilities so as to show respect to the Fukui Government. The Government has been cautious in agreeing to additional nuclear power plant construction after receiving petitions of 210,000 citizens in opposition.

Active Fault Found Near Shimane Nuclear Plant

Chugoku Electric Power Co. which is planning to construct Shimane 3 (ABWR, 1373 MW) announced on August 17 that it had confirmed the existence of an active fault in a locale only 2.5 km away from the nuclear plant. The fault was found during a seismic survey the utility reluctantly carried out in response to a demand made by a protest campaign against new reactor construction. The company, however, emphasized that the length of the fault is merely about 8 km; the entire length is believed to be 26 km. By making only a part of the fault subject to the survey, the power company claims that there is no problem in the construction of the reactor.
Participants in the campaign against the plan are now demanding that the company make public the data and reasons for choosing to make only 8 km of the entire active fault subject to the survey and to conduct a detailed survey of the whole area around the fault. Despite the participants’ strong concern over the additional reactor, they are now focused more on considering legal action that might be taken for suspension of Shimane 1 and 2 (BWR, 460 MW, 820 MW) before questioning the pros and cons of constructing the additional plant.

Toshiba, Hitachi, and GE Consider a Joint Enterprise

Toshiba, Hitachi, and America?s General Electric are currently seeking to strengthen cooperation among their nuclear equipment divisions. It is possible that such efforts may lead to a plan that involves merging the three companies? divisions into a new company.
On August 18 Kyodo News in Japan ran such a story based on information gathered from Toshiba executives. In both Japan and the U.S. the three companies have no hope of getting more domestic orders and are thus being forced to take some tough restructuring measures that involve scaling down their nuclear power divisions and moving employees to other divisions. For these reasons, the three companies are seeking to streamline themselves and perhaps jointly develop new markets with sale sights focused mainly on the China market.
Although they are exploring ways to strengthen cooperation in sales and engineering through a joint enterprise, the executives suggest the possibility that cooperation may go beyond such partial initiatives. Toshiba and Hitachi set up an Asia ABWR promotion Organization on January 1, 1997, and are already jointly developing markets.


First Permit for a New Nuclear Plant in 10 Years

The Minister of International Trade and Industry granted on August 31 a permit to Tohoku Electric Power Co. to build the Higashidori 1 nuclear power plant (BWR 1100 MW) which is planned for Higashidori village in Aomori Prefecture. It had been a decade since the last such permit was granted. Tohoku Electric will begin construction this December and aims to bring the plant on line in July 2005.
Despite this being a ?new siting,? the plan has been around a long time: it was in 1965, before nuclear plants were really operating in Japan, that the village council was asked to approve construction. Almost all the land was also obtained early on by two electric power companies. At first the plan for Higashidori were extremely ambitious calling for joint development by Tohoku Electric and Tokyo Electric where each utility would construct 10 reactors. Now the plan is for only two reactors each, and Tokyo Electric is not very enthusiastic. The reason is apparently that it would cost a huge sum of 3 trillion yen to build transmission lines from Higashidori to Tokyo, which makes little economic sense.

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