News Watch 146 Jan./Feb. 2012 Nuke Info Tokyo No. 146

Decommissioning requests in successive suits

Four nuclear draft cooperation agreements approved

Interim contract between Hitachi and the Lithuanian government

Evidence of unaccounted for nuclear materials held in large amounts

FNCA Ministerial Level Meeting

Decommissioning requests in successive suits
New nuclear law suits are being filed in succession since the Fukushima nuclear accident,
On May 27 and July 1 of 2011, the decommissioning of reactors 3 – 5 (1 and 2 are already decommissioned) of Chubu Electric’s Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant was requested in suits filed by different groups. A lawsuit concerning the same nuclear plant was filed on July 3, 2003, dismissed on October 26, 2007 and is now being appealed. This lawsuit demands the nuclear plant’s suspension until the expected Great Tokai Earthquake as passed.
Additional suits in 2011 concerned Hokkaido Electric’s Tomari reactors 1 – 3 on November 11, and on December 8, decommissioning of Shikoku Electric’s Ikata reactors 1- 3 was requested in a filed lawsuit.
Again, as in a preceding case, the residents of Shiga Prefecture demanded a provisional court order to block the restart of seven nuclear reactors under periodic inspections in neighboring Fukui Prefecture. Motions were filed for seven reactors on August 2: Kansai Electric’s Mihama Nuclear Power Plant reactors 1 and 3; Takahama Nuclear Power Plant reactors 1 and 4; and Ohi Nuclear Power Plant reactors 1, 3 and 4, and on November 8, a citizens group made a written statement demanding a temporary injunction against resumed operation of Japan Atomic Power Company’s Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant reactors 1 and 2. If rejected the group is poised to file a lawsuit. In addition, lawsuits are being prepared in six or seven other locations.
The reason for the series of lawsuits is that following the Fukushima nuclear accident the possibility of winning in court is great due to the recognition of failure of the Nuclear Safety Commission safety screening guidelines, and many lawyers are now beginning to show an interest in these kinds of nuclear lawsuits.
The lawsuits mentioned are in addition to the lawsuits already filed against J-Power’s Ohma Nuclear Power Plant, Chugoku Electric’s Shimane Nuclear Power Plant’s reactors 1 and 2, and the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant.

Four nuclear draft cooperation agreements approved
On December 9, in an Upper House plenary session, cooperation agreements with Vietnam, Jordan, Russia, and Korea were approved. For Vietnam and Jordan whole nuclear plants, for Korea pressure containment vessels and related equipment exports, and regionally, contracts are expected with Russia for re-enrichment of recovered uranium.

Interim contract between Hitachi and the Lithuanian governmentOn December 23. Hitachi announced that it had accepted an order from Lithuania for the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant and had signed an interim contract with the government. They are aiming for a basic agreement in mid-February, and an official contract by summer. The Visaginas plant is scheduled to start operation in 2020, but the details are as yet unclear.

Evidence of unaccounted for nuclear materials held in large amounts

On December 14, Kyodo News reported that 262 facilities in Japan had become the target of IAEA’s safeguard measures, and that the results of a Japanese government investigation had measured unreported highly enriched uranium and plutonium found in large amounts in waste materials. In October of 2010, unaccounted for nuclear materials were discovered by chance at JAEA’s Oarai Research and Development Center in disposed waste dated from before a safeguard agreement between Japan and the IAEA went into effect, and an investigation was carried out. The investigation found a total of 2.8 kilograms of highly enriched uranium and a total of 636 grams of plutonium at JAEA’s Nuclear Science Research Institute, and unaccounted for nuclear materials were discovered in waste materials predating the agreement at fourteen facilities. Discoveries of nuclear materials in waste materials from after the agreement were also found at a number of facilities.

FNCA Ministerial Level MeetingOn December 16, the Japanese government presided over the 12th Ministerial Level Meeting of the Forum for Nuclear Cooperation in Asia (FNCA). On the previous day (Dec. 15th) a Senior Officials Meeting, and on the following day (Dec.17th) decontamination efforts and tsunami damage were inspected at Minami Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture.
The participating countries other than Japan included Australia, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
A special session of the forum was established to address the Fukushima nuclear accident, and in addition focus on, 1) basic maintenance (personnel training and reports), and 2) two round table discussions on “Cooperation for Further Promotion of Radiation and Isotope Applications”.
Below are other points included in the meeting’s resolutions.

  • To gain greater recognition of the serious damage inflicted on neighboring countries in a nuclear accident, countries participating in the FNCA aim to employ the highest safety standards for nuclear facilities, and strengthen cooperation in the field of nuclear power safety in the Asia region for the peaceful use of nuclear power.
  • Share information and knowledge on the lessons of Tokyo Electric’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident, countermeasures for earthquakes, tsunamis, and natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions.
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