national

As Japan reboots 44-year-old nuclear reactor, experts sound alarm

62 Comments
By Aaron Sheldrick

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

62 Comments
Login to comment

But what about solar power?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

From a summary of previous articles about J nuclear plants,

now that they are “reshape the security mindset” and have figured out that operating sesmiometers are important to the safety of a nuclear power plant, starting a 44-year-old reactor is like riding a bike...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As long as they are making money

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm shocked it is even being considered. Nuclear power is not the way forward. I'm surprised the Japanese scientists have not been working out a way to harness the power generated from earthquakes! They would prosper well if they succeeded!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Restarting such old and well past their sell by dated reactors is an intrinsically daft idea, evidenced by the fact they had to effectively buy the local government’s agreement.

Nuclear is inevitably going to be part of the long term energy mix but not the old reactors or new ones using basically the same unsuitable technology originated to produce weapons grade material. There are alternative nuclear technologies that are walk away safe but legacy companies don’t have them so stand in the way at every opportunity.

No single renewable energy source is the answer, as opponents always say the sun doesn’t always shine or wind blow. So a mix of technologies is recognised as being required with a geographical spread and an interconnected grid to move the power to where it is needed. That requires a degree of foresight, planning and government policy. Sadly all completely lacking in Japan. They have had 10 years since the wake up call but have done nothing to change the situation

I feel sorry for the Japanese people, but ultimately they have no one to blame bur themselves.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Safety incident at an ancient nuclear plant would make a nice story for foreign media during the Olympics if anymore are needed about the levels of corruption and incompetence on this island. Let's joyful restart.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

lemme guess, the experts are not in charge

You're probably right, but my beef is that we have to guess. Better journalism would try to check whether these experts' claims are correct or not.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

lemme guess, the experts are not in charge

4 ( +4 / -0 )

experts sound alarm

That's not a very helpful headline. The article quotes just two people, and their expertise is not made clear. I know for sure that Kanden employs many experts in nuclear power. What do they say?

On 9 August 2004, an accident occurred in a building housing turbine for the Mihama 3 reactor. Hot water and steam leaking from a broken pipe killed five workers and resulted in six others being injured. 

I'm not sure this is relevant. There was no release of radiation. Many are killed every year in accidents at non-nuclear power plants around the world (and also at coal mines that supply cola-fired power plants). The link below suggests hydro, wind and solar cause more deaths than nuclear in terms of the electricity produced.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/494425/death-rate-worldwide-by-energy-source/

I'm no great fan of nuclear power, but as someone above commented, it would be helpful if viable and safe alternatives were explained.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Tatsujiro Suzuki, a former deputy chairman of the Cabinet Office's Atomic Energy Commission, told Reuters he has misgivings over how approval for the restart was obtained.

> "BIG FAT ENVELOPES"

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Some of the above is pie in the sky. Until we develop way better storage/battery tech, wind or solar are not viable as base load power sources. Geothermal is unfortunately not sufficient.

I get the concerns about nuclear, but in reality we have had maybe 3 nuclear disasters. and the worry about nuclear waste is also overdone. Waste management is improving all the time.

Set against that look at the amount of pollution and waste caused by coal - and also leaves a lot of debris behind.. Nat. gas is better but still not fully carbon neutral.

Nuclear tech today is safer than ever before. Agree reopening really old plants is not ideal, but until the public allows new plants which exploit the many improvements made on efficiency and safety and all that is really the sole option.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Japan's "safe and secure" is very optimistic and loose as same as Olympics 2020.

Ruling party LDP-Industrial complex always prioritize vested interests than safe of people, they buy agreement of local districts by subsidy.

Japan's government repeats to say "most strict regulation standard in the world" about domestic nuclear plants as same as present authorities repeat "safe and secure" about Olympics.

But its scientific basis is nowhere.

Japan is natural disaster country where strong earthquake often occur.

But Seismic resistance of all nuclear plants in Japan are inferior to even quake proof designed general residences.

And Japan's nuclear regulation doesn't investigate even practicability of evacuation plans yet.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It’s all radiating there anyway in quite same amounts, so why not use the energy to have at least some merit? But I know, pragmatic thinking and logic are your strongest enemies. You also wouldn’t probably drink from a forty four year old faucet in the deserts and unbearable sun heat, when thirsty and soon dying, as it is too old and the plenty of coming water has not the preferred color. ROFL

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Cha! Ching! $$$$$$$$$$$$$$

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why did TEPCO cancel his 20-year contract?

You tell me, as you apparently know more about my family and everything else!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cost of a new reactor today $7-$8 billion

2 ( +2 / -0 )

In our location, many homes are using fuel cells to produce hot water and electricity used or sold back to the grid. Making homes energy independent reduces the demand for central power generation.

Mico grids of 500 homes generating their own power from whatever natural resources are available. Wind, solar, hydro, tidal, geothermal. Bladeless wind turbines.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Quite a number of years ago Hydro Quebec wanted to build more nuclear power plants.

The government had an independent group of actuaries, Chartered accountants, nuclear experts, environmentalists, etc...

Look into the cost of building, operating, maintenance, decommissioning, long term storage, etc...

The results came back that Hydro Quebec and CANDO numbers where way way off and the cost was far greater than claimed.

So the government rejected the idea.

I suspect ( I have no proof) that if the same was done before building any nuclear reactor the results would be similar.

As I understand the cost of producing power is low/reasonable but the long term cost including decades after the facility has been shut down, cost of long term storage of spent fuel rods, near permanent loss of use of the land the plants are built on, makes nuclear power far more expensive than the companies involved claim.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Nuclear energy is a finished story here and will end one day by default and hopefully without another nuclear disaster.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Antiquesaving

Your FIL could still supply the three farms with power without anything to do with any power company. Would require some wire and circuit changes but thousands across the world are doing just that.

You can even put a solar panel on your patio to supply your PC.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

AntiquesavingToday 12:27 pm JST

Your FIL didn't own the land but borrowed rented it and installed solar panels. He wanted to supply three tea farms next to his installation. He could have done that. There are no restrictions

As usual you know better than everyone!

You even know my ex father in law didn't own the land.

Wow that will be news to him!

His land, his family members farms 3 different farms, he doesn't own a farm!

Boy do you really think you know more than everyone including knowing more about my family than I do!

The ownership of the land is not really relevant in this case.

If your FIL installed solar panels on his land and wanted to use the power generated to connect the three farms he could have done that without asking permission from anyone. But the better profit action would have been to join the FIT which you said he did. In that case, he also gets a 20 years contract at whatever the FIT prices were when he joined. I provided a link on that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Your FIL didn't own the land but borrowed rented it and installed solar panels. He wanted to supply three tea farms next to his installation. He could have done that. There are no restrictions

As usual you know better than everyone!

You even know my ex father in law didn't own the land.

Wow that will be news to him!

His land, his family members farms 3 different farms, he doesn't own a farm!

Boy do you really think you know more than everyone including knowing more about my family than I do!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Nuclear power is a very useful and effective tool to end dependency on fossil fuels, but it requires proper care and transparency to safeguard the safety of the plants. Visits to the site by important officials are not by themselves bad, because they could mean the responsible people are listening to the demands of the local community, but if the most important factor to decide the reboot were just economical subsidies then they are pointless.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Wakarimasen - Nuclear the only realistic option as part of the power mix if we are to have any hope of reaching carbon neutral

Awesome! So you’ll be putting your hand up to have nuclear waste stored in your back yard or under your house then?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Idiotic

5 ( +5 / -0 )

When the FIT (Feed-in-tariffs) started in 2012 it paid ¥40 per kWh but those payments have been reduced since then.

By 2020 it was ¥12-¥13 per kWh.

In all cases a 20-year contract.

Probably not worth the expense of the solar panels anymore.

https://www.ichigo-green.co.jp/en/operation/purchase/

1 ( +2 / -1 )

experts sound alarm

It is the word of the experts against the word of the gerontocrats in leadership positions. It's the expertise of experts or some group against the seniority of gerontocrats in leadership positions.

If they are young people or, heaven forbid, experts from abroad, then the leaders here will not listen to them. They may listen, but they will definitely continue to do their own thing. And if something goes wrong, then a press conference will be held, a scapegoat is chosen, few bows, a few apologies, a few excuses, and it's business as usual.

I am not against nuclear power, I am not an expert in this field. But certainly those who understand it should work in this field. And not just those who are old enough and have been put into office because of their age or years on the job.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

....... experts sound alarm

Same ol', same ol'!

Who cares about the experts(especially over here in Japan).

5 ( +5 / -0 )

AntiquesavingToday 

@zichi

You know as well as I do large corporations always leave a way out.

But the panels were installed long before 2014, the plan was to supply power to 3 extended family tea farms bordering the property.

But at the time doing so directly was not permitted.

So they sold the power to TEPCO and TEPCO sold power back to the farms.

That has now been stopped in their case.

Laws have changed TEPCO was once the only choice, now I buy electricity from Tokyo gas, ( yes I know they are buying from TEPCO.)

As for transferring power from east to west again I know the situation, but as anyone that knows even a bit about electricity making the conversion isn't rocket science and after the mess and power problems caused by the Tohoku earthquake, one would think that they would have created a system for that but now!

The FIT started in 2012. If he installed the panels and connected to the power supply and joined the FIT then he is guaranteed 20 years of use.

Your FIL didn't own the land but borrowed rented it and installed solar panels. He wanted to supply three tea farms next to his installation. He could have done that. There are no restrictions. But if he joined the FIT scheme then he would sell the power to the grid and not the tea farms.

Anyone can install power generation on their property and use it without selling to FIT. But FIT gives a bigger profit.

Building connection stations between the two grid is massively expensive and not in the interest of making profits by the power companies. They are very limited in capacity.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@zichi

You know as well as I do large corporations always leave a way out.

But the panels were installed long before 2014, the plan was to supply power to 3 extended family tea farms bordering the property.

But at the time doing so directly was not permitted.

So they sold the power to TEPCO and TEPCO sold power back to the farms.

That has now been stopped in their case.

Laws have changed TEPCO was once the only choice, now I buy electricity from Tokyo gas, ( yes I know they are buying from TEPCO.)

As for transferring power from east to west again I know the situation, but as anyone that knows even a bit about electricity making the conversion isn't rocket science and after the mess and power problems caused by the Tohoku earthquake, one would think that they would have created a system for that but now!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The cost of building a new nuclear reactor has become very expensive at a minimum of $6500 per KW. Times that by 1000MW.

Companies do not have the money and once again would need massive government subsidies. The previously limited liability would no longer work. ¥120 billion. Insurance would be a problem following Fukushima.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Nuclear the only realistic option as part of the power mix if we are to have any hope of reaching carbon neutral

Then how about building some modern ones which preferably don’t sit over geological faults?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The nine mainland power companies have been the most powerful group for more than the last 50 years. They controlled the power supplies and donated enormous sums to the LDP to get want they wanted.

The whole of the nuclear village was responsible for the nuclear disaster happening.

They claimed for decades, nuclear energy was clean, safe and cheap.

We now know that is no longer true after the nuclear disaster which to date has cost ¥25 trillion and will rise to ¥80 trillion before it's over.

No long term government plans for the storage of nuclear waste from Fukushima and the more than 20 reactors going to be decommissioned.

There's probably still ¥15 trillion tied up in closed down reactors and the power companies intend to get it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

As I just mentioned my children's grandfather is an electrical engineer against nuclear power.

He installed solar panels on unused land in Shizuoka prefecture.

2 years ago TEPCO stopped buying the power saying they didn't need it.

Ok I know that is not Kansai, but if they have so much they don't need the power he was supplying, then how come they can't figure a way to sell the extra to Kansai?

You should have asked your FIL and he would have informed you there are two power grid systems. East and West. Very limited cross-over connection.

People who joined the government FIT scheme had a guarantee of 20 years?

https://www.climatescorecard.org/2021/04/japans-feed-in-tariff-fit-scheme/

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Well, I would hesitate to start or use a 1976 car/plane/boat that has recently been left idle for 10 years.

I hope they have signed cast-iron prenuptials for if/when something goes wrong.

For example. "Looking at the state of Fukushima today, in the event of an accident/incident, will KEPCO guarantee a,b,c and d, to all residents of Mihama Town and surrounding areas?"

3 ( +3 / -0 )

PaulToday  08:02 am JST

After 44 years they want to restart it!!!??? 

You know, in Japan, people have a lot of respect for age....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I asked my ex-father-in-law, why Japan didn't use or build geothermal power plants.

He said "money" the nuclear lobby was far to powerful at the time.

He laughed saying they would tell him and his anti nuclear colleagues that earthquakes make geothermal risky.

He replied " the that should make nuclear even more risky".

That was the end of his working for TEPCO and went on to teach in national university alternative power generation, at the time not a popular course or thing to do

6 ( +8 / -2 )

"They haven't changed, that's my impression, despite the scandal involving kickbacks,"

Of course not, because they were not punished, and when the next meltdown happens, which it will, and next time we won't be as lucky and some major cities will be irradiated, the execs can do like Shimizu did and run.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The corruption is mind boggling! Imagine the brown paper bags and hostess clubs that went into making this restart happen!!??

Shameless and stupid!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

2021...the use of subsidies to sweeten local opinion to get the necessary restart approval.

2019 ...executives admitted to receiving cash and gifts worth 360 million yen from an official from a town hosting one of its other nuclear plants.

Anywhere else, they would be called bribes. No change at all in NPP management.

Lots of vice-president positions available in a few years at KEPCO for those who helped approve this.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

 how come they can't figure a way to sell the extra to Kansai

Everyone knows the way to distribute excess energy to the west and vice versa. Kansai most probably bhave excess energy too depends on the season.

But it's pointless to talk about the times that there are excess generation capacity because of less demand

To scrap nuclear there must be an alternative bsource of baseload power

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I'm against nuke myself but what are the alternatives?

The expert should have presented a viable alternative with the criticism

As I just mentioned my children's grandfather is an electrical engineer against nuclear power.

He installed solar panels on unused land in Shizuoka prefecture.

2 years ago TEPCO stopped buying the power saying they didn't need it.

Ok I know that is not Kansai, but if they have so much they don't need the power he was supplying, then how come they can't figure a way to sell the extra to Kansai?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

My home state of California had dipped its toe into the nuclear pool with San Onofre but yanked it out. Now its stuck with decommissioning, which is a hell lot easier said than done. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Onofre_Nuclear_Generating_Station

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Good. About time they restart it. We need the electricity. 

BS...why dont you google and read up about all the green electricity produced in Kyushu that is being refused by the power companies because it is "surplus to needs". There is no shortage of electricity in Japan. How many times did you have a blackout since 2011?

12 ( +13 / -1 )

I'm against nuke myself but what are the alternatives?

The expert should have presented a viable alternative with the criticism

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Nuclear the only realistic option as part of the power mix if we are to have any hope of reaching carbon neutral

My children's grandfather is an engineer, he and others quit TEPCO over their nuclear plants, all pointing out the long term cost and dangers especially in an earthquake prone country.

Geothermal, wind, solar would have supplied Japan had they implemented those and with today's technology they are even more viable than when he was working.

The short term fast buck was the goal and still is, the long term cost with decades of security, waste decommissioning, etc... Actually make nuclear plants far more costly in top of dangerous.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

People with memories of two incidents at Tokaimura must be nervous. I wonder, do they still mix products by hand with buckets?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Nuclear the only realistic option as part of the power mix if we are to have any hope of reaching carbon neutral

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

What is next?

We have Olympics during a pandemic ignoring the experts, they are permitting spectators ignoring again the experts, they planned on selling alcohol ignoring the experts, now starting up a long past safety nuclear power plant again ignoring the experts.

What is next Fracking in Mount Fuji or on some major fault line?

It seems the present government has some sort of death wish for the country!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Good. About time they restart it. We need the electricity. 

Really?

Then why have people I know that installed solar panels on their property been told over the last few years the power companies will no longer buy the electricity they are producing?

Seems more money and control situation.

They want to pay far less than they are to the solar producers and risk killing everyone to save a few yen per Watt.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Well, at least there are no earthquakes in Kansai...

8 ( +9 / -1 )

To satisfy the insatiable anti-xxxx-power protesters, how about immediately shutting down every fossil-fueled & atomic-powered electric power plant nationwide? Problem solved! ;)

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

It must be pretty rough being an expert in Japan. All that effort to get your PhD and rise to the top of your field, only to be ignored for reasons of political expediency.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

What’s the problem? It’s only a nuclear power plant that was designed to run for 30 years. They’ll squeeze another couple of decades out of it and when it stuffs up they’ll just bow deeply and apologize. No problem! (roll eyes)

6 ( +8 / -2 )

After 44 years they want to restart it!!!??? Are they dying to have another accident?

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Then, at least be prepared to import world class ALPS treatment units from the US, rather than relying on last minute low tech home made units which failed to properly treat the radioactive isotopes in Fukushima.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

And people forget that most nations around the world also have nuclear plants and are even building more around the world. These so called expert should go bother them instead. We are just restarting what we already have. Is not like we are building more.

That is not correct. The nuclear energy program started more than 50 years ago has only been able to generate 14% of total world power. Most countries can not afford to build reactors which currently cost about $6,000/KW.

There are only 30 countries with nuclear power.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Good. About time they restart it. We need the electricity. We have been spending massive amount of money buying fossil fuel to keep the nation going for years. I bet most big companies were not happy they just lost their cash cow. Coal, gas and oil is not the answer anyway.

And people forget that most nations around the world also have nuclear plants and are even building more around the world. These so called expert should go bother them instead. We are just restarting what we already have. Is not like we are building more.

-15 ( +5 / -20 )

Just keep ignoring the experts Japan....just keep ignoring

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Again experts are ignored? The Nuclear Industry in Japan really doesn’t have a History of professional management. And at 44yo plant, experts are saying that’s not a good idea, Decision makers heads down and plow ahead. There really is no point on being an expert in Japan, your better off being a grumpy drunken old man, now that’s how you get listened to.

23 ( +24 / -1 )

At one point, extending the life of a reactor would have meant every major component would have been replaced.

KEPCO had to shut down other reactors because they didn't meet the regulations for its anti-terrorist measures.

The No3 reactor is 780MW, the other two reactors are to be decommissioned. 

"On 9 August 2004, an accident occurred in a building housing turbine for the Mihama 3 reactor. Hot water and steam leaking from a broken pipe killed five workers and resulted in six others being injured. The accident, rated at INES Level 0, had been called Japan's worst accident at a nuclear plant before the crisis at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant."

Only two workers were killed at Fukushima.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

For a country that abhors nuclear incidents, Japan sure seems to be flirting with a self-inflicted incident.

19 ( +28 / -9 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites