News Watch 143 July/August 2011 Nuke Info Tokyo No. 143
Lithuania receives bids from Westinghouse and Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy for NPP project
Lithuania plans to build a nuclear power reactor in Visaginas City, Utena Region, located in the northeastern part of the nation, and is aiming to start operation between 2018 and 2020. Toshiba-affiliated Westinghouse and Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy have submitted bids for this project. Westinghouse proposed a 1,100 MW AP1000 pressurized water reactor, while Hitachi-GE have proposed an advanced boiling water reactor of the 1,350 MW class. A Korean company had obtained priority negotiation rights for this project in 2010, but withdrew before the end of the year due to disagreements in funding conditions, according to sources.
Obama City’s municipal assembly adopts antinuclear statement
The municipal assembly of Obama City in Fukui Prefecture, Japan, which neighbors Ohi Town, where Kansai Electric Power Company has four pressurized water reactors (Units 1 and 2, 1,175 MW each, and Units 3 and 4, 1,180 MW each), unanimously adopted a statement on June 9, 2011 proposing withdrawal from nuclear power generation.
Yamaguchi Prefecture’s governor mentions possible suspension of Kaminoseki NPP project
Sekinari Nii, the governor of Yamaguchi Prefecture, mentioned in the prefectural assembly on June 27, 2011 that, in consideration of current circumstances, he would not renew the land reclamation license for the construction of the proposed Kaminoseki Nuclear Power Plant (two ABWRs, 1,373 MW each). The Kaminoseki NPP project, a long-standing issue in Yamaguchi, is scheduled to build the reactors on sea-reclaimed land. The prefecture granted the reclamation license to Chugoku Electric Power Company (CEPCO), the would-be operator of the plant, in October 2008. The license will expire in October 2012. Following the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, the prefecture requested CEPCO to exercise prudence in proceeding with the project. Construction work was actually suspended before that time and it will now be effectively impossible for the operator to complete the reclamation before the expiry. If the governor does not renew the license, the construction will no longer be possible.
Electric power companies hold shareholder meetings
On June 28 and 29, 2011, Japan’s ten electric power companies that are operating (or constructing) nuclear power plants, held their annual shareholder meetings. On the 28th, four power companies, Tokyo, Chubu, Hokuriku and Kyushu, as well as Electric Power Development (J-Power), held shareholder meetings, and on the 29th, meetings were held by five companies, Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kansai, Chugoku, and Shikoku. Proposals for withdrawal from nuclear power generation were submitted by shareholders at six of these meetings, but were voted down because major shareholders such as banks and life insurance companies voted against the motions (five to eight percent of shareholders were in favor). Compared with past shareholder meetings, however, more shareholders were in favor of the anti-nuclear proposals, and at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s meeting, shareholding Minami-Soma City and Shirakawa City, both in Fukushima Prefecture, supported the anti-nuclear proposals for the first time. Japan Proxy Governance Institute, an institutional investor advisory organization, advised its clients to vote in favor of the proposals, which was also a first instance. Kunio Hiramatsu, Mayor of Osaka City, the company’s biggest shareholder, participated in Kansai Electric Power Company’s shareholder meeting. He stated that it was the electric power company’s responsibility to shift from dependence on nuclear power generation to more diverse energy resources, and requested that the power company make prompt efforts to develop renewable energy sources.
Japanese government requests restart of Genkai NPP reactors
On June 18, Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Banri Kaieda, issued a “safety declaration” for nuclear power generation reactors that are undergoing regular inspections, but the governors of the host prefectures are showing reluctance to give their approval for reactor restarts. Under these circumstances, the government is engineering a bald campaign to restart the operation of Kyushu Electric Power Company’s Genkai NPP Unit 2 (PWR, 559 MW) and Unit 3 (PWR, 1,180 MW) reactors, to set a precedent to be followed by other suspended reactors. On June 9, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) explained to Saga governor Yasushi Furukawa and prefectural assembly members that restarting the Genkai reactors would pose no safety concerns. The assembly of Genkai Town unanimously adopted a statement requesting an early reactor restart on the 17th, and Hideo Kishimoto, Mayor of Genkai Town, expressed his acceptance of the restart. However, the Saga governor had not yet expressed approval. On the 26th, the NISA and ANRE held a local explanatory meeting in Saga City, in which seven “citizen representatives” were selected to participate by an advertising agency. The meeting was broadcast via cable television networks and the Internet. However, even the “citizen representatives” were not persuaded by the claims of safety. On June 29, METI minister Banri Kaieda visited the Mayor of Genkai Town, the Governor of Saga Prefecture, and the Mayor of Karatsu City, which neighbors Genkai Town. On July 4, the Genkai Town mayor met with Toshio Manabe, president of the Kyushu Electric Power Company, and officially delivered the Town’s agreement to restart the reactors. At the time, the Saga governor was intending to approve the restart after extracting a promise from Prime Minister Naoto Kan that the reactors would be “safe.” However, it became apparent on July 6 that the management board of the Kyushu Electric Power Company had instructed both its own employees and those of its affiliates to send messages to the cable TV station that broadcast the above-mentioned explanatory meeting in which “citizen representatives” participated (some of the messages would be read out during the meeting). On the same day, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry announced that all reactors would be obliged to undergo a new safety test (stress test). The Genkai Town mayor, who became upset about this sudden news from Tokyo, withdrew the Town’s agreement to restart the reactors. The Saga governor then indicated that the restart would be unlikely to occur before the completion of the test.