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Big challenges: Choosing a nuclear career in Japan

30 Comments
By Etienne BALMER

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Least thing radiation can to human body is making people sterile, higher dose can cause cancer.

However Japanese won't need to worry whether those body will make them unable to get offspring or not, since they won't have any child recently.

-20 ( +4 / -24 )

The nuclear plants were only able to operate prior to 3/11 because of the 80,000 nuclear gypsies or day labourers who moved from site to site. Many of those moved on when the plants were shut down or work at Fukushima recovery.

There are about 13,000 workers at the NPPs in 2012 which declined to 10,000 in 2021.

Many universities closed their nuclear courses.

From a well-paid job with respect to one with a stigma and people needing to hide their workplaces.

There is a large hardcore group resistant to using nuclear energy.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

higher dose can cause cancer.

However Japanese won't need to worry 

The above is one of the most cynical comments I've seen. I hope no Japanese nor anyone else has to suffer cancer for any reason. Lots of Japanese and foreign residents of Japan have had to suffer through it. Too bad Japan Inc. have dropped the ball so many times on energy issues and people here have to endure problems because of decisions made by the putative elite, and their choices to continue to burn huge amounts of illness-causing fossil fuels while relying on nuclear power.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Nuclear is the best solution for humanity. Fusion is forever 30 years away; so-called 'green' energy is essentially a scam and fossil fuels are the lifeblood of the political elite and international mobsters (a la Putin and the House of Saud). If we are to meet our energy needs then nuclear is all we have left.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

It’s a very glossy story, don’t think Homer Simpson would take a position in a Japanese run Nuclear power plant. Anybody who researched the history of accidents aside from Fukushima would be shocked at the total lack of professionalism or safety standards. Then you have Fukushima as icing on the cake. It was only luck, and a very few number of people that prevented it being a much worse problem. So if it was my child I’d say no too, go overseas where you get paid more and have a safety conscious environment.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

"They asked me if I would work at Fukushima Daiichi, and I explained to them that it wouldn't affect my health," she said.

There's no guarantees that working in the nuclear power industry wouldn't affect a person or people's health.

Nuclear fission power plants are not carbon neutral !

The waste that's created will probably be irresponsibly dumped into the environment.

If the Japanese had a track record of being extremely cautious with high safety standards and excellent contingency planning in the handling of nuclear power then There would be less concerns.

However there's real reason for concern for obvious reasons.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Neatly covered up, but showing the misogynistic nature of "male" dominated industry and the society in general here in Japan, the "men" in the article used full names, yet the women, only their first.

However, it took "years" of discussions for her husband to come round to the idea.

Yet I will bet any money that if the positions were reversed, nary a comment would be made!

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Nuclear energy is generating about 6% of total power. Renewable energy is about 20%. could be increased to 30%. There are no current solutions to replace all the fossil fuels used for cars, heating, electricity, and industry. Prior to 3/11 nuclear energy generated 30% of total power.

Gas turbines to replace the coal-fired plants.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

As a former Nuclear Plant worker and for the last 39 years working in my utilities Power Generation Fossil plants mainly Combustion Turbine Combined Cycle natural gas fired ones, Nuclear Power is the best solution for reducing CO2 and NOX Emissions and for Japan also the most economic one. One interesting fact many are not aware of is that a coal plant emits more radioactive material into the environment than a nuclear power plant. See article here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste/

6 ( +8 / -2 )

We all know how dangerous coal is but when there is an industrial accident at a coal-fired plant the disaster is never equal to a nuclear disaster like Fukushima and Chernobyl.

Even when all the reactors were operating, they only generated 27-30% of total power, and coal was still being used. Coke is needed for the blast furnaces.

In the near future, the maximum number of reactors is about 20 and probably could generate about 15% of total power.

The cost of building new reactors has greatly increased and building time is 5-8 years. I think it is about $8000 per MWh.

How to replace fossil fuels. Oil is the largest fuel import and not much is used for power generation.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Actually Non Nuclear power generation has had more accidents and caused more deaths than nuclear power generation see link here: https://www.engineering.com/story/whats-the-death-toll-of-nuclear-vs-other-energy-sources

I can also tell you from both personal experience and industry statistics that in the USA, I can't speak for Japan, that the safety factor in nuclear plants far exceeds that of fossil/non nuclear plants and this is the primary reason that accidents are extremely rare events.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The nuclear plants were only able to operate prior to 3/11 because of the 80,000 nuclear gypsies or day labourers who moved from site to site.

Yes, a previous nuclear accident involved homeless people, employed by subcontractors of subcontractors, manually shoveling waste improperly into the wrong kind of bucket. For those who don't know, "subcontractors of subcontractors" usually means yakuza.

For having practices like this, the nuclear industry is its own worst enemy. I'm not saying its nice down a coal mine or on an LPG tanker on the high seas, but there is plenty of scope for supporting nuclear as a technology but strongly opposing it as actually practised. The fish rots from the head down etc. etc.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

For those who don't know, "subcontractors of subcontractors" usually means yakuza.

Based upon what facts? Or is this just an assumption you make here?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

For those who don't know, "subcontractors of subcontractors" usually means yakuza.

Oh and if your supposition is anywhere correct, that would mean that ALT's contracted to Eikawa placement companies, are thanks to the Yakuza.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

All this promotion of reliance on nuclear power sounds like a leaky pipe a dream.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A teacher working for Interac or whatever is a worker working for a subcontractor. They are clearly not a "subcontractor of a subcontactor". There is not enough money in English teaching for multiple middlemen to extract margins. That probably only happens with online lessons using Filipinos and other folks overseas, a tiny percentage of the English teaching market.

Multiple levels of subcontractors are invariably used when there is a desire to avoid worker safety legistation, avoid other worker rights, avoid issues with working visas, etc. etc. Yakuza involvement has been reported on multiple times regarding the nuclear industry, including the Fukushima cleanup. Many jobs involving the day labourers wallace mentioned, usually doboku and construction, tend to involve yakuza.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/05/how-yakuza-and-japans-nuclear-industry-learned-love-each-other/327691/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2013/12/30/yakuza-gangsters-recruit-homeless-men-for-fukushima-nuclear-clean-up/?sh=1a4282bd38b6

http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/america-tonight-blog/2014/1/7/fukushima-cleanupworkerssubcontractors.html

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Bob

guess maybe you don't realise but many of the Japanese NPPs were constructed on earthquake fault lines and is a country with a high number of powerful earthquakes.

Until 2011, being a former engineer I presumed that the NPPs were built with the highest possible safety standards which I had experienced in industries like un heavy chemical plants. But the 2011 nuclear disaster revealed an astonishing lack of important safety features.

Everyone who was associated with the Japanese nuclear industry, the power companies, the atomic safety agencies, and the government, believed that a serious nuclear accident like Fukushima could never happen.

The cost of building the plant was put before the important safety standards. The cliff face was lowered to accommodate the cooling fans and pumps instead of placing them on the cliff which would have required larger more expensive ones. The emergency generators are located at or below sea level in the basements of the turbine halls with waterproof doors. The reactor buildings were not watertight.

No secondary emergency water supply or power to the plant.

The list is a very long one which was revealed in the many reports on the disaster available online.

Even the plant operators, including the plant manager, had no safety training for 20 years. The safety manual was nothing more than 4 A4 sheets.

In 2011, Japan was generating about 27% from nuclear power and was trying to increase that to 50% by 2040. The remaining power was generated mostly from fossil fuels including coal.

In Japan, power companies seek the support and permission of the local community before starting a reactor. Not required by law but that is how it is done.

Even if all of the now available 20 reactors were restarted the country will still need fossil fuels. Just like in the U.S. where nuclear power only accounts for about 20% of total power generated. Also 40% is from coal. 30% from gas.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Too political. I am sure large numbers were laid off recently and extend their retirement age by 20 years to 85, same as extending the life of the reactors.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Some of the sub-contractors at the Fukushima plant have been revealed to be involved in supplying day laborers and heavy plant equipment.

All day laborers should be registered and directly employed by TEPCO or the government.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Wallace

Yes sir I do realize these facts. The nuclear plants in Japan are as I understand it not built to the same standards as those in the USA. I have also read some of the reports on the Fukashima event and it was a unbelievable catastrophe that had proper upgrades which were in the plan but unfortunately way too late been implemented the loss of power to critical plant equipment and meltdowns may have had a much better chance of being prevented altogether. TEPCO was negligent in operating, maintaining and upgrading the plants. One of these reports is in the link below a good read and mush of what you have stated is in these reports I can only hope that TEPCO and the other operator head the lessons learned so as to prevent any such disaster from occurring again.

https://www-pub.iaea.org/mtcd/publications/pdf/pub1710-reportbythedg-web.pdf

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Great discussion BTW. I just wish this comment forum had an edit ability LOL!

Bob

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Bob

I have read almost every disaster report since 2011.

The three most important were;

*TEPCO

*Japanese Diet or parliament.

*IAEA.

The conclusion was the disaster was manmade and could have happened with the correct safety design features.

After the construction was complete the required upgrades would have been very expensive and complicated. Before construction, GE recommended the fans, pumps, and emergency generators were installed on the cliff which TEPCO refused because of the additional costs.

In 2008, I think, a group of scientists informed TEPCO about the height of the sea wall being too low in a major tsunami. TEPCO refused to increase the height.

The general situation for the reactors has improved with safety upgrades but about 20 will be decommissioned because it would be too expensive.

I doubt in the next decade Japan can generate more than 15-20% of its power from nuclear energy.

So the major problem is how to replace fossil fuels, especially coal. Hydrogen and ammonia turbines might be a part of the answer.

TEPCO was discovered to have falsified important documents and was prosecuted. The trust level is now very low with the general public.

But we are also in the moment of an international energy crisis.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There are Yakuza sub-contractors in Fukushima.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Least thing radiation can to human body is making people sterile, higher dose can cause cancer.

The dose makes the poison. Irrational fear makes bad policy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bob

Wallace

The nuclear plants in Japan are as I understand it not built to the same standards as those in the USA.

And yet, there was still Three Mile Island. The U.S. has extended the reactor life to 80 years.

https://www.foronuclear.org/en/updates/news/a-second-20-year-extension-has-been-approved-for-the-two-units-in-surry-nuclear-power-plant-in-the-united-states/

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

just need to find a way to get the gov't to bail you out like TEPCO for all your incoming cancer problems

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Some of the sub-contractors at the Fukushima plant have been revealed to be involved in supplying day laborers and heavy plant equipment.

All day laborers should be registered and directly employed by TEPCO or the government.

You are suggesting the impossible here, that's not how the construction industry works in Japan. You seem to think that changing the entire system is the only way to go.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

wallace

guess maybe you don't realise but many of the Japanese NPPs were constructed on earthquake fault lines and is a country with a high number of powerful earthquakes.

I think there’s one or two with disputed fault lines in the plant area. Also, powerful earthquakes are factored into NPP design in Japan.

Everyone who was associated with the Japanese nuclear industry, the power companies, the atomic safety agencies, and the government, believed that a serious nuclear accident like Fukushima could never happen.

Nobody believed a M9+ earthquake and tsunami could occur in Japan.

The cost of building the plant was put before the important safety standards. The cliff face was lowered to accommodate the cooling fans and pumps instead of placing them on the cliff which would have required larger more expensive ones. The emergency generators are located at or below sea level in the basements of the turbine halls with waterproof doors. The reactor buildings were not watertight.

The cliff had to be lowered because the ground the plant was on had to be lowered so the plant could be built on bedrock.

I guess they could have kept the cliff, and drilled through it to place the water pipes - but then we could have been facing a meltdown due to cliff debris damaging the pipes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Awa no Gaijin

Nuclear fission power plants are not carbon neutral !

None are, but nuclear power plants are among the lowest carbon mainstream power plants.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Star-viking

The cliff had to be lowered because the ground the plant was on had to be lowered so the plant could be built on bedrock.

I guess they could have kept the cliff, and drilled through it to place the water pipes - but then we could have been facing a meltdown due to cliff debris damaging the pipes.

The cooling fans, the water pumps, and the emergency generators could have been located on the cliff well above sea level which GE recommended but TEPCO refused on the grounds of extra cost.

This is now recommended by the new NRA regulations.

There was no emergency water supply like a lake or reservoir. Once offsite power was lost so was a clean water supply.

There were no watertight reactor buildings and turbine halls.

The earthquake badly damaged the plant including cracking the steel and concrete reactor containment vessels. Which now constantly leaks the cooling water needed into the reactor basements causing the contaminated water problem. Two of the emergency generator shafts twisted from the earthquake making them inoperable. Two young engineers sadly drown there.

The secondary cooling systems for the reactors all failed.

Reactors have been updated to meet the new NRA regulations but 20+ will be decommissioned and deemed too expensive to upgrade.

I guess there could be about 15-20 reactors operating giving about 15%-20% of total power demand.

As I have already stated, there is an international energy crisis that changes decisions now.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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