News Watch 111 (March/April 2006) Nuke Info Tokyo No. 111
With regard to the pluthermal project for Kyushu Electric’s Genkai-3 (PWR, 1,180 MW), Governor Yasushi Furukawa of Saga Prefecture announced his view on February 7th. At the time he said, “The safety of the project is assured.” On February 17th Genkai Town held an extraordinary town assembly meeting and unanimously endorsed a statement requesting Town Mayor Tsukasa Terada to agree to the project. On February 20th the mayor visited Governor Furukawa and communicated his intention to do so. On March 22nd the Saga Prefectural Assembly endorsed the project, but Governor Furukawa is now seeking a meeting with the Minister for Economy Trade and Industry to obtain an assurance of the project’s safety from the central government.CNIC Co-Director, Hideyuki Ban, and nuclear safety research officer, Chihiro Kamisawa, visited Mayor Terada on January 19th and met with Governor Furukawa on January 20th. They asked them to listen to the voices of the residents, to discuss the issue thoroughly and to refrain from making a hasty decision.” Unfortunately, it appears that their request was ignored.
With regard to the pluthermal project for Shikoku Electric’s Ikata-3 (PWR, 890 MW), on March 16th the Nuclear Safety Commission concluded that there is no problem with the project in terms of disaster prevention. The government’s official approval is expected any day. However, on February 17th, the Mayor of Ikata Town, Yoshihisa Hatanaka, was arrested on bribery charges related to bidding for construction work for the town. This will no doubt delay granting of prior understanding by the local government.
On March 3rd, Chubu Electric Power Co. applied to the government for permission for its pluthermal project at Hamaoka-4 (BWR, 1,137 MW). Then on March 13th it signed an agreement with Areva for the supply of MOX fuel.
Toshiba falsified testing data
It has been revealed that in 1993 Toshiba falsified testing data related to a feed water flow gauge for Fukushima 1-6 (BWR, 1,100 MW). Data from tests carried out when the equipment was delivered were falsified, because the measurement error was not within the range of accuracy specified in the specifications. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) found out about the falsification from a whistle blower in September 2005. TEPCO made an announcement about the incident on 31 January 2006, after investigations confirmed that data had been falsified.Although TEPCO stated that “there was no falsification elsewhere,” it was revealed on February 9th that data for a purchase for Kashiwazaki-Kariwa-7 (ABWR, 1,356 MW) had been saved on computer. There were signs that the program had been tampered with to allow the gauge to meet the accuracy specified in the specification.
Request for withdrawal of Kumihama Nuclear Power Plan
On 9 February the mayor of Kyotango City asked Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) to withdraw its request to the city for permission to carry out an environmental assessment for the construction of a nuclear power plant. KEPCO originally lodged its request in 1975. As a result of the merger of six towns in 2004, Kumihama Town is now Kyotango City.The mayor stated that while there was a plan for a nuclear power plant, the town was unable to launch local promotion measures. However, the day after submitting his request to KEPCO, he announced a local promotion plan combining tourism and fishery.
Japan-US-French cooperation on sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor
The policy group of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), which is promoting research and development of generation IV nuclear power systems, met on February 15th – 16th in Fukui City. Current GIF membership is Japan, France, US, Canada, UK, Switzerland, South Korea, South Africa, Mexico, Argentina and the EU. At the meeting reports were made on the progress of six reactor models, one of which was the sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor. Japan, the US and France signed a system agreement for this reactor. The agreement stipulates concepts for intellectual property and basic management methods for R&D. The UK, South Korea and EU are also expected to sign the agreement.
Eighty-five percent of employees feel anxiety working at nuclear plants
KEPCO conducted a survey of subcontractors’ employees in response to the August 2004 accident at the Mihama-3 reactor (PWR, 826 MW). As a result of the accident, five people were killed and six others were injured by high-temperature steam from a ruptured pipe in the secondary cooling system. On February 5th, the Asahi Shimbun carried a report on the results of the survey. The questionnaire was sent to roughly 3,600 employees of some 40 companies, among whom 2,650 responded. To a question related to working around piping in the secondary cooling system, 84.6% responded, “I always feel anxious,” “I still feel strong anxiety”, or “I feel slightly uneasy”. With regard to the way KEPCO’s employees treat subcontractors, 37.4% were “unsatisfied,” while 32.8%. indicated that they were “satisfied”.
Material Unaccounted For
The Japanese government has released more information regarding its plutonium stockpile, including new information about Material Unaccounted For (MUF). The data was released in response to inquiries by CNIC and Diet Member Nobuto Hosaka.In 2004 there was 1 kg of MUF at the Tokai reprocessing facility. Much larger quantities can be expected for the Rokkasho reprocessing plant, so we have requested that similar data be released each year in future.
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