News Watch 168 Sep./Oct. 2015 -Nuke Info Tokyo No. 168
Takahama Unit 3 Reactor Hustled into Pre-operational Inspection
Former TEPCO Executives Face Mandatory Indictment
Policies Promoting Return to Contaminated Areas Gaining Headway
Decontamination Waste Stored On-Site at Over 100,000 Locations
Fukushima Fishing Cooperatives Approve Marine Release of ‘Decontaminated’ Groundwater
On August 17, Unit 3 at KEPCO’s Takahama NPP (PWR, 870 MW) began undergoing pre-operational inspections toward restart. The Fukui District Court issued a provisional injunction on April 14 this year against the restart of both Units 3 and 4 (also PWR, 870 MW; see NIT No. 166). Despite this, far from being halted, preparations for their renewed operation have been forcibly implemented.
KEPCO has been appealing the provisional injunction, seeking to have it overruled before the planned reactor restart date in late November, but the Fukui District Court has not indicated a target for conclusion of proceedings. Moreover, even if the proceedings are concluded, there is a strong chance that the appeal will be rejected.
Legal proceedings against former TEPCO chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former vice-presidents Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro for professional negligence resulting in injury or death were dropped by the Tokyo District Court a second time, despite a decision by a prosecutorial inquest committee favoring prosecution. The Fifth Tokyo Inquest of Prosecution, which had examined the case, decided a second time on July 17 that the case should be prosecuted. Because of that decision, indictment became mandatory, with lawyers to be appointed by the Tokyo District Court acting as prosecutors.
Future proceedings are expected to investigate the cause of the Fukushima nuclear accident and determine who was responsible.
Four and a half years after the Fukushima nuclear accident, with 110,000 people still forcibly evacuated from the region, aggressive policies neglecting the victims’ actual circumstances and the current state of damage, while promoting their return to the area, are gaining strength.
Even though the conditions for their return have not been met, the evacuation orders are being lifted one by one, with the orders for the town of Naraha, which had been entirely evacuated, lifted on September 5. In a cabinet decision on June 12, the Japanese government decided to lift the evacuation orders for all remaining areas by March 2017, except for areas with extremely high levels of radiation. TEPCO will thereby be able to cut off compensation for mental suffering to the residents of areas under evacuation orders in March 2018.
Basic policy revisions to the Law on Support for Victims, Including Children, of Nuclear Accidents were approved by the cabinet on August 25, to the effect that, “Conditions for renewed evacuation from areas not under evacuation orders do not exist, and thus it would be appropriate to scale back or eliminate areas receiving support.” The disaster victims have taken issue to this as trivializing the accident and forcing them to accept exposure to radiation.
The waste generated by decontamination efforts after the Fukushima nuclear accident, amounting to about 2.3 million cubic meters, is being kept at temporary storage sites. Of that, no more than about 0.5%, or roughly 10,000 m3, has been transported in a pilot (test) project to interim storage facilities. The temporary storage sites are full, and places to put the wastes generated by further decontamination work are running out. As of the end of March of this year, the number of local storage sites, such as the gardens of houses, the grounds of schools and parks, etc., had reached 102,093. One year prior to that, at the end of March 2014, there were 53,057 such sites, so the number nearly doubled in one year. The relevant prefectural staff surmised that the number would continue growing in the future at about the same pace.
As a countermeasure to contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi NPS, TEPCO’s “sub-drain” plan for decontaminating and discharging contaminated groundwater collected from wells around the buildings into the sea was officially approved by the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations on August 25 at a closed-door directors’ meeting held in Iwaki. Present at the directors’ meeting were Shigehiro Tanaka of METI, who serves as deputy director-general for policy planning and coordination as well as inspector-general for decommissioning and special countermeasures for contaminated water, and Yoshiyuki Ishizaki of TEPCO, representing the Fukushima Revitalization Headquarters. Chairman Tetsu Nozaki submitted written responses to five demands the fishing cooperatives had presented as conditions for their approval of the plan.
The responses, which were obvious and require little confirmation, included “striving to prevent marine contamination, strictly observing the operational targets” and “water containing tritium after treatment at the Multi-nuclide Removal Facilities (ALPS=Advanced Liquid Processing System ) not to be disposed without the understanding of all parties involved, but held in tanks on the nuclear plant grounds.” The directors in attendance indicated their consensus and voted unanimously to accept the plan.
On the same day, President Hiroshi Kishi of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations conferred with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yoichi Miyazawa to convey the decision for acceptance. After that Kishi conferred with President Naomi Hirose of TEPCO. He relayed the acceptance of the plan as a “tough decision,” and hand-delivered a letter requesting strict observance of the operational targets.