View of the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui prefecture Photo: AFP
national

Kansai Electric restarts reactor at Takahama nuclear plant

37 Comments

Kansai Electric Power (KEPCO) on Wednesday switched on a nuclear reactor, the latest to come back in service despite deep public opposition in the aftermath of the Fukushima crisis. The reactor reached criticality Thursday morning, KEPCO said.

Japan shut down all of its dozens of reactors after a powerful earthquake in March 2011 spawned a huge tsunami that led to meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing the world's worst such accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

But only a handful of reactors have come back online due to public opposition and as legal cases work their way through the courts.

On Wednesday, KEPCO restarted the No. 4 reactor at the Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture after a court in March cleared the move.

The latest restart came after court battles that lasted more than a year during which a district court near Fukui ordered KEPCO to suspend operations.

The Fukui government, where the nuclear industry is a major employer, approved the reactor's restart but concerned residents in neighboring Shiga Prefecture asked their local court to stop the move.

The region's appeals court in Osaka finally ruled in March that KEPCO could restart two of the four reactors at Takahama.

Shigeki Iwane, KEPCO president, announced the restart in a statement.

"We will... carefully continue our work with discipline and regard safety as the priority," he said.

Shiga Gov Taizo Mikazuki voiced frustration and urged the national government to reduce its reliance on nuclear power, saying his prefecture would be greatly impacted in the event of an accident.

He said the environment was not right for a restart.

"Local residents hold profound anxiety about nuclear plants," he said in a written statement.

"The government should change the current energy policy that relies on nuclear plants at the earliest possible time," he said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has steadily promoted nuclear energy, calling it essential to powering the world's third-largest economy.

© 2017 AFP

  • Sort by
  • Oldest
  • Latest
  • Popular

37 Comments
Login to comment

So 2017 is the year when the government starts turning the reactors back on.

As a resident of Kansai, this is not what I wanted to read when I woke up.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Even though a majority of Japanese do not want nuclear power plants,the governing powers in Japan force this unwanted and uncontrollable energy source on the public.

Democracy is not to be seen!

5 ( +11 / -6 )

The first reactor at this plant was started in 1974. This reactor (#4) was started in 1984. This reactor is 33 years old and built with a 40 year life span. Upgrades were made in 2012 after the tsunami that wiped out Fukushima dai-ichi, but it is still the same ageing reactor and faces the same back-up failure as Dai-Ichi. Even a three year old kid only has to get burned once before he stops playing with matches. How many nuclear disasters will it take for Japan to realise they are playing with fire?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

I want all the nuclear power plants halted since the 2011 earthquake to restart operations after examinations of safety. It will help TEPCO to pay compensations to the victims of the earthquake. It is not realistic the same scale of the earthquake happen often. We should not allow selfish individuals give damages to the national economy.

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

Nuclear plants at sea level on a archipelago prone to massive earthquakes and tsunami--what could possibly go wrong. As ever, have yourself an exit strategy.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Irrational and patently undemocratic. Fission is a dinosaur teechnology that is intrinsically uneconomic without huge public finance support; if they had to shoulder the clean up cost at decommissioning they would close down bankrupt.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I hope they installed auxiliary distant power lines, Remote Back up batteries, and generators, and new safety valve switches for the cooling pumps. AND regular inspections, cause if this was goes ..it wont be much of Japan left.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

"As a resident of Kansai, this is not what I wanted to read when I woke up"

So don't be a resident of Kansai. Everybody in the world lives where they live because they like it, or they just shrug and stay out of inertia, or they are in a prison of one form of another. There are countries that do not use nuclear power. Anyone who feels as though their life is endangered has a duty to their family and children to go there. There are even parts of Japan where no nuclear power plants are operating. Fukushima is one such place.

I have personally made that decision. I have weighed the evidence and decided to live in an area with nuclear plants, even a damaged one. I encourage everyone to take this matter seriously and CHOOSE their lifestyle according to their principles. Why protest? Why groan and moan? Vote with your feet! I did. You can too.

What is left unstated in your worldview expressed in the quote above is that a lot of people in Kansai are seeing this as happy news. Things are getting back to normal. The safe reactors there are even safer than they were 6 years ago, and everything is ready to move ahead. Kansai will be producing LESS CO2 and will be spending less to import fossil fuels.

I hasten to add that this is a big step along the way to curing Japan's.... arrhythmia.... and getting back to the pulse of progress it was making in reducing CO2 emissions. For a lot of people, nuclear power has meant "Fukushima", as if that is what this is all about. As reactors start to come back on, people will realize more and more that nuclear is better than coal. It isn't perfect, but it is a step along the path to a better future. That view is so "normal" that it is the prevailing view, the consensus, in countries that use nuclear power around the world.

-14 ( +5 / -19 )

"The first reactor at this plant was started in 1974. This reactor (#4) was started in 1984. This reactor is 33 years old and built with a 40 year life span. "

Well, just off the cuff, I will say that I don't see a reason why most of these reactors can't last until 60 or so. What few people here will understand is that utilities will just shut them down when it no longer makes financial sense to run them. That is happening in places in the US, and it is a quiet process. Sometimes it is better to get rid of the old Volvo than to keep painting over the rust. Sometimes a rusty Volvo is all you need.

Some reactors in Japan will never be started up again. Others are in pretty good shape and have obviously not had much wear and tear for the last 6 years. Decommissioning is a huge cost that utilities want to avoid for as long as possible, too, so there are financial reasons for NOT declaring an end to their useful life. Balanced against that are the huge costs of upgrades that need to be made to keep them running safely. A lot of these plants have spent the last 6 years getting expensive upgrades, so I would expect them to be used longer than their rated lifetimes. PG and E shut down their San Onofre plant for financial reasons. It happens.

I have a weird opinion about this. I think cutting off the plants at 40 years is overly harsh, but if utilities ask to extend a plant out to 80 or 100 years, I would almost certainly oppose it. It would be great if these nuclear reactors could be replaced with something else at the same site, such as an LFTR, but even offshore wind would be pretty cool. Nuke power plants have a lot of infrastructure beyond the reactors themselves.

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

Shorter speed, love it leave it. Don't complain or try to change things for the better. Everything is fine as it is and we should all shut up and follow our revered and by all accounts competent leaders.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

But only a handful of reactors have come back online due to public opposition and as legal cases work their way through the courts.

While its correct that there's opposition to restarting the reactors they are offline following the 3/11 nuclear disaster for safety inspections based on new regulations introduced by the government and also safety updates also required because of the safety updates.

12 reactors were shut down permanently (7,2GW). 17 reactors have not filed for restarts (16GW). 19 reactors are under review. (18GW) and 5 reactors approved (6GW).

What is left unstated in your worldview expressed in the quote above is that a lot of people in Kansai are seeing this as happy news. 

The majority of Kansai people, like elsewhere are opposed to nuclear energy including the Osaka government which has KEPCO stock.

Thirteen Japanese nuclear reactors were constructed with steel made by the same domestic company that produced material used in a French power plant that has come under scrutiny after anomalies were found in the structure of its reactor vessel.

According to statements from the utilities, the domestic reactors made with steel from JCFC include: units 2 and 4 at the Fukushima No. 2 power plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.; unit 2 at the Takahama power plant and units 1 and 2 at the Oi power plant, both run by Kansai Electric Power Co.; reactors 2, 3 and 4 at the Genkai plant and reactors 1 and 2 at the Sendai plant run by Kyushu Electric Power Co.; reactor 2 at the Ikata plant run by Shikoku Electric Power Co.; reactor 1 at the Shika plant managed by Hokuriku Electric Power Co.; and reactor 2 at the aging Tsuruga plant run by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/04/national/jcfc-steel-troubled-french-reactor-also-used-13-japanese-nuclear-power-plants/#.WRzftMZ7GV4

6 ( +7 / -1 )

555speedracer5

I was born here in Kansai (Kobe), and have been a resident of Osaka/Kobe for the last 16 years. It's not your place to suggest to me to not be a resident then and up and leave.

Actually as a citizen and a resident, ina democracy I have every right to my opinion and my say and I also have the right to reside where I please.

Nuclear power is dangerous regardless of whether or not you are afraid, and I do not want the Kansai plant to be turned on.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Why protest? Why groan and moan?

Why advocate change? Or safeguards? Or accountability?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"We will... carefully continue our work with discipline and regard safety as the priority,"

Sorry, but PROFIT has already been stated as the priority, since the only absolute way to guarantee safety would be to decommission the plant -- which is already well past it's declared period of use. KEPCO staff and their families should have to live on the plant grounds if they honestly claim it is safe and will be safe.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Quote: "Shiga Gov Taizo Mikazuki voiced frustration and urged the national government to reduce its reliance on nuclear power, saying his prefecture would be greatly impacted in the event of an accident."

Interestingly, support for such restarts even seems to be falling throughout Japan.

In a national survey carried out by the Mainichi Newspaper on March 11th & 12th this year were 55% against, 26% for. A similar survey conducted in March of 2016 found 53% against and 30% for, indicating a widening gap.

The source is in Japanese, but you can see the percentage figures even if you do not read Japanese. (Possibly there is an English version somewhere.)

https://mainichi.jp/articles/20170313/k00/00m/010/101000c

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Simply put, over half of the population surveyed would not like to see any NPP restarts in Japan. Perhaps a quarter would.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Proof the companies own the government. Nobody wanted this

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The maximum extended life cycle for a reactor in France is 10 years, By the end of a 40 year cycle almost every part of a reactor should have been replaced at least once, including the thousands of kilometers electrical cabling and safety control systems and the various pipework systems but some of that is buried inside concrete. The important part which can't be replaced is the reactor pressure vessel which becomes brittle with age from neutron bombardment. The No 2 reactor is made with high carbon steel which according to a French report and investigation could be a problem. The 40 year life cycle was decided to allow for a degree of safety margin and also after 20 years of operation, a nuclear power plant becomes "pure profit". The nuclear disaster at Fukushima was caused because profit was put before safety.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Japanese Abe Government and major media instigate fear against Missiles or Nuclear Power of NorthKorea. 

But They never mention risk of attack to domestic Nuclear Plants.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

5SpeedRacer5 Today 08:04 am JST

So don't be a resident of Kansai. Everybody in the world lives where they live because they like it, or they just shrug and stay out of inertia, or they are in a prison of one form of another.

Silly argument. Why do people need to move out when they can shut down the NPP?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Zichi,

The embrittlement problem has been the subject of contuous study since the 50s. Reactors are checked, and test samples are exposed to reactor radiation levels to give data on the progression of embrittlement. Reactors were licenced for 30 to 40 years, but embrittlement data has show it is safe in many cases to relicence reactors for at least 20 more years.

As to the replacement of cabling and pipework, the NRC's "General Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants" gives percentages of 30% cabling replacement and 20% of piping.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Disobedient Judge against national policy are demoted one after another in Japan.

Obedient Judge to government are promoted,and often given "Amakudari".

Though Japan's High Court recognized existence of many unsolved problems,

permitted restart of Nuclear Plants.

One of prediction:Takahama Nuclear disaster will cause at least 180 thousand Evacuees.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Probable with many nuclear power plants is they are of old technology, which are very dangerous. Today's newer plants are much safer to operate and better for the enviroment. People have a tendency to freak out when they hear words such as Gun or Nuclear, because they dont understand the how and why. What governments around the world need to do is shut down plants that are pre 1980s but i no that will not happen. Instead they should at least upgrade or replace with newer plants.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Most of the reactors in Japan are type 1 or type 2 BWR and PWR. That would be more than 30 of the reactors. Only about 4 are type 3 reactors.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Star-viking

the levels of corrosion and decay are very high in most heavy industrial plants and nuclear power plants are no exemption. After 25 years you can pick up electrical cabling which just falls apart in your hands. Important pipework break down from rust and heat. Important pipework are often buried in concrete.

France limits reactor life extensions to 10 years. There are also the reactors with high carbon steel like the Takahama No 2.

For electrical cables, basic information is lacking regarding the roles of prolonged exposure to moisture, radiation, temperature, mechanical stress, and electrical elds on the properties of the polymeric insulation. The general in uence of the complex residual stress states associated with structural material joining operations on stress corrosion cracking (including radiation-induced stress relaxation and ow localization phenomena) is not well understood. 

page9

https://www.aps.org/policy/reports/popa-reports/upload/nuclear-power.pdf

The regulations here are set by the NRA, each country has different standards.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Great news another possible nuclear disaster in the making just waiting to happen if a country cannot clean up safely one disaster why risk any more .

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hideomi Kuze are you trying to say that politics in Japan is corrupt? I'm shocked! ........

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Star-viking

Everyone involved with nuclear energy, everyone in the nuclear village had stated for decades, that nuclear energy was safe and that a nuclear disaster could never happen. Guess what, it did. 

The Fukushima nuclear disaster which the Diet investigation and others called manmade which TEPCO also agreed it was could have been avoided if the correct safety standards and procedures had been in place and today we wouldn’t be having these conversations. 

The was a lack of serious safety standards which I found shocking because I had assumed those dangerous plants like others would be operated at the highest safety standards even beyond those required by regulations. But they were not.

Not even the simplest of procedures were in place.

The costs would have been so small compared with what the nuclear disaster will now cost ¥50+ trillion.

https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/contract/cr6931/v1/int-scale-test-it-13/post-test-tray-2.jpg

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I'm opposed to letting future generations of the world receive the burden of nuclear waste disposal, it's just such an impossible and dangerous job....,

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Irrational fear is no way to live. Nuclear power is the cleanest power available. Let the luddites walk and burn candles.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Tragic mistake.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nuclear power is the cleanest power available

After chernobyle, fukushima and all the accident covered up to date by the nuclear village, there are still people who thinks we do believe this...unbelievable..., it is so clean that it cost trillion to ..."clean" ...definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Nothing changed in Japan, another Fukushima is on the making as long as those nuclear plants are running, just a matter of time.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Zichi,

France limits reactor life extensions to 10 years. There are also the reactors with high carbon steel like the Takahama No 2.

France does that, but that is solely a political decision, they were originally talking about 20 years, but the Greens had to be assuaged.

For electrical cables, basic information is lacking regarding the roles of prolonged exposure to moisture, radiation, temperature, mechanical stress, and electrical elds on the properties of the polymeric insulation. The general in uence of the complex residual stress states associated with structural material joining operations on stress corrosion cracking (including radiation-induced stress relaxation and ow localization phenomena) is not well understood. 

Thanks for the report. Looks like a good read. It is, however, concerned with plants being relicenced for operation beyond 60 years, not reclicenced for operation beyond 40 years, which what my post was about

The regulations here are set by the NRA, each country has different standards.

Yup.

Everyone involved with nuclear energy, everyone in the nuclear village had stated for decades, that nuclear energy was safe and that a nuclear disaster could never happen.

Nope.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster which the Diet investigation and others called manmade which TEPCO also agreed it was could have been avoided if the correct safety standards and procedures had been in place and today we wouldn’t be having these conversations. 

Well of course they had to call it manmade. All the blame had to be dropped at TEPCO's feet. If there was more deeper investigations questions would have had to been asked, like "Who was supposed to be monitoring the threat to Tohoku?" and "Was the threat even predictable?"

The was a lack of serious safety standards which I found shocking because I had assumed those dangerous plants like others would be operated at the highest safety standards even beyond those required by regulations. But they were not.

Pretty hard to regulate against a largely unknown threat. It took everyone in Tohoku by surprise. Still, passive hydrogen recombiners should have been mandated - but that is not just a fault of TEPCO. Also, PM Kan should have offered help and not interference.

Not even the simplest of procedures were in place.

For example?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Well of course they had to call it manmade. All the blame had to be dropped at TEPCO's feet. If there was more deeper investigations questions would have had to been asked, like "Who was supposed to be monitoring the threat to Tohoku?" and "Was the threat even predictable?"

I worked in heavy chemical plants etc for decades. There were many poor safety aspects of the Fukushima plant which the company or someone should have picked up on. Emergency generators at sea level and located in buildings without water proof doors. Lack of waterproof doors on the reactor buildings. Lack of emergency generators located in the reactor buildings. Major switch gear which should never have been located at ground level.

No emergency water cooling system. Lack of emergency batteries for electrical control systems. Incoming mains power pylons built on a dried river bed. Lack of safety training which wasn't held for 24 years.

Lack of hydrogen venting from the reactors. Misplaced safety water cooling pipework. When the firemen were pumping in water to cool the reactors they weren't doing that but instead filling the condensers located on the top floors.

Lack of safety manual which only amounted to a few A4 sheets. The evidence given to the Diet investigation by the plant manager Yoshida was some of the most damning.

The doctor who was head of the atomic safety head stated they had never planned for a nuclear disaster. For decades the government and the atomic safety agencies reassured the people, again and again, that nuclear energy was safe.

Star-viking, after all the reports and investigations, I'm surprised you are still trying to white wash the disaster.

The responsibility of the safety of the nuclear plant was 100% of the owners TEPCO. Less than $1 billion of safety updates could have prevented a nuclear disaster.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Star-viking

In the last century there have been eight tsunamis in the region with maximum amplitudes at origin above 10 metres (some much more), these having arisen from earthquakes of magnitude 7.7 to 8.4, on average one every 12 years. Those in 1983 and in 1993 were the most recent affecting Japan, with maximum heights at origin of 14.5 metres and 31 metres respectively, both induced by magnitude 7.7 earthquakes. The June 1896 earthquake of estimated magnitude 8.3 produced a tsunami with run-up height of 38 metres in Tohoku region, killing more than 27,000 people.

Before the accident, there was a basic assumption in Japan that the design of nuclear power plants and the safety measures that had been put in place were sufficiently robust to withstand external events of low probability and high consequences. Because of the basic assumption that nuclear power plants in Japan were safe, there was a tendency for organizations and their staff not to challenge the level of safety. The reinforced basic assumption among the stakeholders about the robustness of the technical design of nuclear power plants resulted in a situation where safety improvements were not introduced promptly.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/fukushima-accident.aspx

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Irrational fear is no way to live. Nuclear power is the cleanest power available. Let the luddites walk and burn candles.

And asbestos was once lauded, too.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My Home-Country is still free of nuclear.

Yes, the generation itself is clean but even the newer/safer plant designs haven't done anything to reduce the generated waste.

My country had a good plan to entomb the waste in concrete inside abandoned salt mines. Still we voted against it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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