News Watch

International Round Table on final Disposal of HLW

Participants of the G20 Ministerial Meeting on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth, held in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture on June 15-16, agreed to set up an “international roundtable on final disposal” of high-level radioactive wastes that Japan proposed. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) says, “We are planning to discuss and share experiences and knowledge of public understanding activities, and research cooperation and personnel exchange, using underground research facilities in each country, in order to realize final disposal. As a result of the discussion in the International Roundtable, we are planning to formulate the basic strategies and best practices for international cooperation in realizing final disposal, and we except that they will contribute to encourage further efforts made by each country.”

The first session will be held in Paris in mid-October with the cooperation of OECD/NEA, and discussions will continue at subsequent sessions to be held about once a year.

Memorandum of Cooperation between Japan and France in the Field of Energy

At the Japan-France Summit Meeting on June 26, held in conjunction with the G20 Osaka Summit, a “Memorandum of Cooperation on Innovation for Energy Transition” was exchanged between METI and France’s Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition. In addition to sharing knowledge on renewable energy and energy saving, under the memorandum they will continue their partnership on decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and final disposal of high-level radioactive wastes and cooperate to encourage industrial collaboration in nuclear energy in other countries. On the same day, a general agreement on cooperation for development of fast reactors was exchanged between METI, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission. The following four forms of cooperation were mentioned:

  • R&D based on simulation of and experiments on fast reactors
  • Exchange of technical information and data
  • Samples and materials for experimenting and evaluation
  • Exchange and sharing of instruments

Sasakawa Peace Foundation Offers Proposals to Government on Surplus Plutonium

The Sasakawa Peace Foundation held a press conference on June 4, announcing its “Proposals to the Japanese government concerning international management of plutonium – aiming for reduction in plutonium stocks and adoption of new international norms.” The proposal consists of a summarization of arguments by the Working Group on New Initiatives for Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Non-Proliferation, which is chaired by Tatsujiro Suzuki, vice-director of the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA) at Nagasaki University.

The five main points of the proposal are (1) Pursuing international storage of plutonium: consigning “excess” plutonium to the custody of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); (2) Strengthening the international Guidelines for the Management of Plutonium that are currently the international norms: Propose new international norms for reducing existing stocks based on the decision of Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission, and restrain reprocessing; (3) International cooperation toward reduction of existing stocks: establishing an international forum for disposal; (4) Give priority to dry storage for management of spent nuclear fuel, and have a third-party agency assess options for the nuclear fuel cycle, and (5) Playing a leading role in globally promoting the new international norms for plutonium.

Gross Business Expenses of Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant to Reach About 13.94 Trillion Yen

The Nuclear Reprocessing Organization of Japan (NuRO) announced on June 18 that the expected gross business expenses of the Rokkasho reprocessing plant would exceed the previous year’s estimation by about 10 billion yen, reaching about 13.94 trillion yen (about $129 billion). The gross business expenses of the plant’s MOX fuel fabrication facilities increased by about 100 million yen, reaching about 2.33 trillion yen (about $21 billion).

When they were reported by the Federation of Electric Power Companies to the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy’s subcommittee on electric power companies in 2003, these gross business expenses were about 1.1 trillion yen for the reprocessing plant and about 119 billion yen for the MOX fuel fabrication plant.

Nuclear Safety Countermeasure Expenses Skyrocketing

Nuclear safety countermeasure expenses, according to the Nikkei daily in a report on July 9, are greatly exceeding initial estimations by Japan’s electric power companies. When the Nikkei held a hearing with ten companies owning nuclear power plants (NPPs) and one that was constructing one, the total expenses came to about 4.8 trillion yen as of June this year. In January 2013, these costs were estimated at roughly 900 billion yen, so they have risen by a little under 4 trillion yen in the intervening six and a half years.

The Shikoku Electric Power Co. expects expenses of 190 billion yen for one reactor, the Ikata NPP Unit 3, accounting for nearly 60% of its construction expenses of 319 billion yen.

List of Fraudulent Products Delivered to Nuclear Power Plants

The Nuclear Regulation Agency compiled a report titled “On the state of response by nuclear power companies to fraudulent behavior by manufacturing companies” on June 26, providing it to the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

The following is a list of major cases involving nuclear power facilities, with 13 manufacturing companies found to have engaged in inappropriate actions such as not following procedures during inspections, fabrication of inspection data and falsification of analytical results.

(1) Kobe Steel, Ltd. and other companies in its group (metallic materials, etc.)

(2) Mitsubishi Materials Corporation and its subsidiaries (sealants, aluminum pipes, etc.)

(3) A subsidiary of Toray Industries, Inc. (tire cord, etc.)*

(4) A subsidiary of AGC Inc. (centrifuge tubes)*

(5) Ube Industries, Ltd. and other companies in its group (insulated coating materials, etc.)

(6) NGK Insulators, Ltd. (insulators, etc.)

(7) Hitachi Chemical Company, Ltd. (lead storage batteries, electrolytic condensers, etc.)

(8) Fujikura Ltd. and other companies in its group (cables, etc.)

(9) Tokyo Keiki Inc. (hydraulic equipment)

(10) KYB Corporation and its subsidiaries (oil dampers for aseismic base isolation and vibration control)

(11) A subsidiary of Kawakin Holdings Co. Ltd. (oil dampers for aseismic base isolation and vibration control)

(12) A subsidiary of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (rubber products)

(13) Another subsidiary of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (cast iron products)

* Note that cases (3) and (4) have not been confirmed as related to nuclear power facility safety, and information about case (13) is still being gathered at present.

The report notes, “In several of these cases, these products were delivered to nuclear power facilities and were actually being used, but in each case the operators visited the manufacturers to confirm their quality assurance systems and data on past inspections and testing. They deemed the products in question to have had no issues with regard to safety. Also, in cases where they have been unable to verify past data that were previously lost, they have been taking measures such as confirming safety through additional inspections or testing or replacing the products in question with substitutes.”

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