NEWS WATCH from NUKE INFO TOKYO 73 (Sep./Oct. 1999)
from NUKE INFO TOKYO 73 (Sep./Oct. 1999)
— No Renewal Again of the System Peak Load
— A Suit to Demand Stoppage of Construction of Shika 2
— Move Begins toward High-level Radioactive Waste
— Rare Species of Wild Animals Support Anti-Nuke Movement
— More Difficulties for the Maki Plant Construction Plan
The peak of electric power demand in Japan comes during the hot summer season. The power companies, therefore, broadcast TV commercials every summer, calling for power saving to the general public and requesting enterprises to suspend plant operation during the peak period. Their real aim is not to reduce power consumption but to shift the consumption to a time period when the power demand is smaller. Moreover, the power companies want to make a new record of power demand during the peak period every summer.
The system peak load was highest in 1995 and it has not renewed since then. As the utilities have built new power stations with a premise that the peak load will be renewed, they have excess capacity. Denki Shimbun (Power News), a trade paper, in its August 3 issue, reported that “the people involved in electric power are watching the demand trend expectantly to see it is renewed,” but their expectation was not met again this year. The reasons cited are a recession and the saturation of the market for power consuming appliance models.
A suit was filed on August 31 in Kanazawa District Court to stop construction of Shika 2 (ABWR, 1358 MW) which Hokuriku Electric Power Co. plans to construct in Shika-machi, Ishikawa Prefecture. The suit was filed by 135 people, 73 of whom are residents of the prefecture. This is the first action against the construction of an Advanced Boiling Water Reactor in Japan.
The meaning of “advanced” in ABWR is only “of better economy”, and its safety is rather worse. In fact, Kashiwazaki Kariwa 6 and 7 (both 1356 MW), for which Tokyo Electric Power Co. adopted ABWRs, have had a series of troubles. Troubles are also frequent at Shika 1 (BWR, 540 MW), exposing the fact that Hokuriku Electric is short of an adequate accident prevention system. Even under the present condition the company’s power generation capacity is excessive, and there is no need to construct another reactor. If it is to be constructed, it will become difficult to balance the demand and supply. The construction of Shika 2 will only increase the amount of radioactive waste, including spent fuels. These are the claims of the plaintiffs in their demand to stop the plan.
There has been a lawsuit also to suspend operation of Shika 1. The plaintiffs lost the case both at the local and high courts, and the case has been brought to the supreme court. Even though the residents’ claim was not accepted, the high court in its ruling stated that “nuclear plants bear a form of “negative legacy.'” (NIT No. 68) The Minister of International Trade and Industry gave the first approval for Shika 2’s construction plan on August 27, immediately before the suit was filed. Formally, the construction began that day.
The Agency of Natural Resources and Energy on August 17 submitted a report to the Atomic Energy Commission on the outline of a proposed concrete system for high-level radioactive waste disposal.
It is said that a bill for the Law to promote High-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal, in which the contents mentioned below are stipulated, will be placed before the ordinary session of the Diet to be convened in January next year.
* The basic disposal plan will be decided by the Minister of International Trade and Industry, and then decided upon by the Cabinet.
* The body (or bodies) which will carry out the disposal shall be a non-profit corporation approved by the government.
* The electric power companies will contribute all the necessary funds for disposal (to be included in the cost of electricity bills).
* The government will designate an existing corporation as the body to manage the funds.
The body (bodies) to carry out the disposal is (are) planned to be established within next year, with funding to be provided mainly by the power companies. According to the basic plan, these bodies will be managed financially by a separate corporation. With the strengthened government involvement, the responsibility of power companies for their waste generation will be reduced.
Again and again it has been confirmed that some rare animal species were living in Kaminoseki-machi in Yamaguchi Prefecture where Chugoku Electric Power Co. is planning to construct Kaminoseki 1 and 2 (ABWR, 1,373 MW each) and Okuma-cho and Futaba-cho in Fukushima Prefecture where Tokyo Electric Power Co. is planning to construct Fukushima I-7 and 8 (ABWR, 1,380 MW each). These animals are holding off the construction projects. They were found after the environmental impact statements were submitted to the Minister of International Trade and Industry, so it is inevitable to have the environmental assessments will be done again.
In the sea off Kaminoseki some finless-back porpoise, a kind of whale, were found swimming, and the scene was broadcast over television. Then, some peregrines and a number of mollusks, such as a new species of snail, and other endangered species were found. With regard to the new species of snail, their eggs were also found, and there is no question that the area is their breeding place. According to the construction plan, the area was planned to be reclaimed. In Fukushima a nesting ground of northern goshawk was found. In spite of the fact that Tokyo Electric had found the nest in March, it failed to include in the environmental impact assessment which it submitted in April.
The mayor of Maki-machi in Niigata Prefecture, where Tohoku Electric Power Co. is planning to construct a nuclear plant, concluded a contract on August 30 with 23 townspeople to sell a piece of town-owned land in the planned construction site. These people are members of “the Association to Implement a Plebiscite,” and the contract prohibits any kind of disposal of the land, including transfer and renting.
The town conducted a plebiscite in August 1996, questioning the pros and cons of the plant construction, and 61% of the people voted against the plan. Nevertheless, the pro-nuke faction, ignoring the result of the voting, is claiming that “it will be possible to sell the town-owned land to the power company, if the mayor changes.”
The mayoral election is scheduled in January next year. The sale of the land to the residents was done in order to adhere to the will of the no-nuke people in the town regardless of the outcome of the election. The land sold is 743 square meters of the land owned by the town in the planned plant site, which is close to the lot located at the planned core. Without this piece of land, the power company cannot build a nuclear plant.