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Construction of Rokkasho MOX Factory Commences

On October 28, Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited (JNFL) commenced construction of its J-MOX factory, the country's first commercial MOX fuel fabrication factory, in Rokkasho village of Aomori prefecture. The factory will have a maximum fuel fabricating capacity of 130t-HM per year. Construction is scheduled to be completed in March 2016.

Application for Second HLW Shipment from the UK

On October 13, Japan Nuclear Fuel Co., Ltd. (JNFL) and Nuclear Fuel Transport Co., Ltd (NFT) submitted an application to the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization (JNES) for confirmation of the material to be transported in the second HLW shipment from the UK. A total of 76 vitrified waste containers belonging to Kansai, Shikoku and Kyushu electric power companies are scheduled to be shipped in the latter half of 2011 to JNFL's Vitrified Waste Storage Center in Rokkasho Village, Aomori Prefecture.

Japanese consortium to do feasibility study for Kazakhstan nuclear power plant

On September 29, a consortium of Toshiba, Japan Atomic Power Co. and Marubeni Utility Services Ltd. (a subsidiary of Marubeni Corp.) signed a memorandum of understanding with Kazakhstan's National Nuclear Center to do a feasibility study on building a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan's specification is for a 600MW~1000MW advanced boiling water reactor. According to the consortium, Kazakhstan initiated contact with Japan about doing a preliminary study and is not in talks with other countries on this issue.

The study will receive 70 million yen ($837,000) in funds from the Japanese government under programs commissioned by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Tokyo.

Bid for Kazakhstan's Planned HTR

A consortium including Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), Toshiba, Marubeni, Fuji Electric, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd hopes to submit a bid for a feasibility study for Kazakhstan's planned High Temperature Reactor (HTR). Their sales pitch is based on the High Temperature Test Reactor (HTTR, 30MWt) developed by JAEA.

The date for international bids has not yet been determined, but it is said that the aim is to complete the feasibility study by 2012. If the business is judged to be viable the aim would be to complete the design by 2016, construct an HTR with a thermal output of 50MW in the city of Kurchatov, start test operations by 2020 and use the reactor to supply electricity and district heating.

Public-private partnership to promote nuclear exports launched

On October 22 the International Nuclear Energy Development of Japan Co., Ltd. (JINED) was launched to engage "in activities leading to the creation of proposals to support nuclear power plant projects in the emerging countries." JINED is jointly owned by the nine Japanese electric power companies which operate nuclear power plants, Japan's three nuclear power plant makers (Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Toshiba), and government majority-owned investment company Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ). (INCJ was launched in July 2009 as "a unique public-private partnership aimed at promoting innovation and enhancing the value of businesses in Japan.") JINED's President is Ichiro Takekuro, Fellow of The Tokyo Electric Power Company Co., Inc.

JINED has already taken on the role as the central point of contact for negotiations with Vietnam in Japan's efforts to construct nuclear power plants in that country (see page 3).

Welds in pumps and valves never inspected

It has been discovered that inspections of welds required under the Electricity Business Act were not carried out during the equipment's service life at numerous nuclear power plants. The revelations began on July 21 with Japan Atomic Power Company's (JAPCO) Tsuruga-1 Nuclear Power Plant (BWR, 357MW). Major replacement of pipes in the recirculation system of Tsuruga-1 is planned during a periodic inspection beginning in January next year. It appeared from diagrams and documents provided by the US plant maker that there were welds that JAPCO was not aware of and that therefore had never been checked since the plant began operating. Further investigations confirmed this to be the case.

When checks were carried out at other plants, numerous welds that had never been inspected were discovered. As of November 11, unchecked welds had been identified in 45 pumps and valves in 14 BWR plants (including Tsuruga-1) and in 18 pumps and valves in 6 PWR plants. These figures refer to the number of items of equipment. The number of unchecked welds has not been announced, but one would expect it to be a considerably higher figure.

One can only gasp in amazement at the slipshod nature of an inspection system that fails to check welds in such important equipment as recirculation pumps, pumps in the high-pressure core spray system, the reactor core isolation cooling system and the residual heat removal system and main steam isolation valves.

Valve maker falsifies materials experiment records

On October 12 the Nuclear Industrial and Safety Agency (NISA) announced that Osaka-based Sudo Valves had falsified materials experiment records for valves in pressurized water reactors. The company had been supplying valves, including for transformer insulation oil cooling pumps, to 26 reactors operated by five electric power companies since 1997.

The company was required to test samples for chemical composition, strength, etc. after a certain quantity of valves had been produced. However, it did not produce the samples and falsified the experimental record to give the impression that the required standards were met.

On the same day NISA ordered companies operating boiling water reactors and nuclear fuel cycle facilities to check if Sudo Valves' products had been procured via other equipment makers. It is said that checks of the valves in question indicate that they did in fact meet the required standards, but the electric power companies intend to replace all 2,411 of the valves that have been identified.

This case of data falsification was exposed as a result of an internal leak to NISA in June.

Lawsuit for the termination of construction and operation of Shika 2 rejected

On October 28 the Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit lodged by local residents in 1999 for the termination of construction and operation Hokuriku Electric Power Company's Shika 2 Nuclear Power Plant (ABWR, 1358MW).

In March 2006 the Kanazawa District Court accepted that there were problems with the seismic safety of the plant and that the danger existed that the plaintiffs would receive an unacceptably high radiation dose in the case of an accident (NIT 112). However, in March 2009 the Kanazawa Branch of the Nagoya High Court reversed this decision (NIT 129). The plaintiffs appeal to the Supreme Court has now been rejected.

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