Tohoku Power Electric Co's Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant in Onagawa town, Miyagi Prefecture Photo: REUTERS file
national

Tsunami-hit Onagawa nuclear reactor gets OK to restart

37 Comments

A nuclear reactor in northeastern Japan damaged by the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster is all but certain to resume operations as the governor of the prefecture hosting the facility has decided to give consent, local officials said Wednesday.

For the No. 2 unit of the Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi Prefecture to restart, winning consent from local government leaders is the last remaining step needed after it cleared a national safety screening in February.

Miyagi Gov Yoshihiro Murai will formally announce his consent by the end of the year, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

By doing so, he would be the first governor of a disaster-hit prefecture to give the green light to the restart of a nuclear reactor.

The other heads of local governments whose consent is essential are the mayors of the city of Ishinomaki and the town of Onagawa where the plant operated by Tohoku Electric Power Co straddles.

Of them, Ishinomaki Mayor Hiroshi Kameyama has already expressed his willingness to give the nod, and such a move is backed by the two municipalities' assemblies.

After the quake triggered one of the world's worst nuclear crises in neighboring Fukushima Prefecture and caused all of Japan's 54 reactors to halt at one point, nine units at five plants in the country have restarted following regulatory and local approval.

Murai has come to believe residents will support his stance after the prefectural assembly adopted a plea seeking his consent at a panel meeting Tuesday and is set to approve it at a plenary session next week, the officials said.

"When the plenary session shows its stance, I will make a decision upon hearing the opinions of mayors of cities, towns and villages within the prefecture," Murai said.

The 825,000-kilowatt reactor won the approval of the Nuclear Regulation Authority in February, becoming the second disaster-damaged reactor to pass stricter safety standards after the Fukushima nuclear disaster -- the worst since the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

At the Onagawa complex, all three reactors -- the same boiling water reactors as in Fukushima -- shut down when a massive quake and a 13-meter tsunami hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, flooding the underground floors of the No. 2 unit.

However, the plant's emergency cooling system did not fail and there was no meltdown of the type that occurred at three of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

Tohoku Electric Power Co aims to restart the Onagawa No. 2 reactor in 2022 at the earliest, after completing anti-disaster work such as the construction of an 800-meter-long seawall at the plant. It has already decided to scrap the No. 1 unit.

Other boiling water reactors at TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture and the Tokai No. 2 plant of Japan Atomic Power Co. in Ibaraki Prefecture have also won the regulator's approval to resume operations but have yet to obtain local consent.

© KYODO

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
Login to comment

That plant is nearly 40 years old and was damaged by major earthquakes in 2005 and 2011. Are these people crazy?

14 ( +18 / -4 )

Must still be 2020. Good thing the Olympics got delayed so this thing had a chance to be up and running.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Are these people crazy?

Yes

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Murai is LDP and probably promised the folks more subsidies from Suga. Fooled just like the first time when they accepted the construction in their own back yard. Japan has been doing fine with this reactor off-line, why go backwards?

12 ( +14 / -2 )

The 825,000-kilowatt reactor won the approval of the Nuclear Regulation Authority in February, becoming the second disaster-damaged reactor to pass stricter safety standards

Ah, that puts my mind at easy.

By stricter they mean people cant mix nuclear products in stainless steel buckets? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokaimura_nuclear_accident

Or, they're going to make it so you cant build emergency power backup systems below the water table?

I have zero faith that this check was anything more than a, " well, it hasn't fallen down in the ten years since the earthquake. Must be all good."

I hope Suga will step up and urge natural disasters to stop hitting Japan.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

That style plant is really a classic, like a wood 1950s TV. It isn’t safe, of course, but the style really brings back memories, and bribing the right officials is way cheaper than decommissioning an old one and building a new one.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

If you ask any of the locals, they will tell you how against this they are. If you ask the mayor or the governor, they mysteriously think it's okay. How could this be?

It's because the Mayors and prefectural assemblyman are all on the government payroll. There is a disconnect from the will of the people. Local officials are merely yes men to rubber stamp government plans. Its sad and a failure.

The government and corporations have set the goal post where they want them. Of course it's okay.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Great News ! I hope Japan can restart all nuclear power plants.

-15 ( +1 / -16 )

Amazing Japanese safety technology. As the 2011 tsunami reached 27 meters, and this NPP was effected by 17 meters, that would mean they picked up the whole NPP and moved it up a hard bed rock mountain at least 20 meters. Totally amazing they did that?

or was it brown envelopes?

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Japan's nuclear power plants are safer then china.

Japan should support Toshiba and Hitachi for construction of nuclear power plants in other countries, carbon reduction is important for the environment.

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

Quite simply: sheer madness. And once again indicates the powers-that-be who lord over us care not one whit about the citizenry.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japan has relatively inexpensive electricity compared to other parts of the world. Nuclear energy is a better energy source to minimise the impact on global warming than carbon based energy sources such as coal and gas. While extremely high safety standards are essential, this reactor has survived the biggest earthquake in record history and a gigantic tsunami then it has passed the most important test of all, real life experience.

I would also want to acknowledge the hard work and foresight of this man Yanosuke Hirai whose advocay for higher than normal safety standards enabled this nuclear power plant to withstand the 3/11 earthquake, subsequent Tsunami and provide refuge for the people of Onagawa.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yanosuke_Hirai

2 ( +2 / -0 )

all the hypocrites crying, old reactor, mad people operate the nuclear plant. IF folks all are so clever, please suggest a way to supply stable power to few million people. If you are so smart, please start everything by yourself first, please cut off your electricity supply everyday and install a solar panel at your rooftop. If you can't do it, then please admit that you are living in the dream and a typical hypocrite. REMINDER : nobody force you to use it, if you hate it, then you can always choose solar panel.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

End global warming one reactor at a time. It’s an emergency- only nine and a half years left.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Another one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nuclear energy is a relatively inexpensive and usually safe form of energy. It is better for the environment than using carbon source such as coal and gas.

The Onagawa nuclear power plant passed the most important test of safety: experience. It survived the worlds largest earthquake and and a gigantic tsunami.

Praise must go to Yanosuke Hirai for advocating for the highest level of possible safety standard for Onagawa and Nigata Nuclear Power plants.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yanosuke_Hirai

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The article talks about politics and it barely mentions what has been done to prevent another reactor disaster? Or is that the lowest of all the priorities of those etrnellay wise people in government?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

MarkToday  11:43 am JST

all the hypocrites crying, old reactor, mad people operate the nuclear plant. IF folks all are so clever, please suggest a way to supply stable power to few million people. If you are so smart, please start everything by yourself first, please cut off your electricity supply everyday and install a solar panel at your rooftop. If you can't do it, then please admit that you are living in the dream and a typical hypocrite. REMINDER : nobody force you to use it, if you hate it, then you can always choose solar panel.

Do you understand what hypocrite means any further than that it is an insult? Please quote a hypocritical statement anyone has said here in this thread. 

It’s very easy to argue the necessity of nuclear power. It’s great until it goes wrong. 

I think the majority of people here are concerned by the haphazard approach to nuclear power taken in Japan. For a country which ought to know better, they really aren’t as careful as they should be. 

All factors considered; do you believe that operating a potentially damaged/weakened antiquated powerplant is worth the risk?

I personally worry that an abundance of bureaucracy, and corruption which rife in Japan, means that the trend of cutting corners and ignoring warnings will continue. 

Japan needs clean AND safe power. I don’t think this plant can provide that. 

Tell me again why I’m a hypocrite?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Nuclear energy is a better energy source to minimise the impact on global warming than carbon based energy sources such as coal and gas

Old NPPs on one of the worlds most dangerous fault line for volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis? Bad management, corner cutting and corruption?

i don’t know where you live sir, but my solar panels generate five times more than I consume. Then there is wind, wave and geothermal energy production methods which japan is one of the most blessed in the world.

Nuclear energy is a relatively inexpensive

I’m sorry to break the news to you son, but NPPs cost ten times more than they produce. Then there is the (cough, cough) 1000 year storage problems after decommissioning.

wake up peeps, nuclear power was developed mainly for warfare.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

All factors considered; do you believe that operating a potentially damaged/weakened antiquated powerplant is worth the risk?

I personally worry that an abundance of bureaucracy, and corruption which rife in Japan, means that the trend of cutting corners and ignoring warnings will continue. 

Japan needs clean AND safe power. I don’t think this plant can provide that.

first, hypocrite doesnt mean insult, it means how people act. exp : i anti-nuclear plant, but everyday i am using stable power generated by it with no shame. i anti-corruption, but everyday i am collecting bribes from people, etc.

second, go and check other nuclear power plants around the world, US or canada or anywhere, most of their power plant age 30-40 years and still functioning as normal

third, no matter how corrupted it is, you do believe Japan politicians dare to risk another nuclear plant failure? nobody dare to risk it. furthermore even if the politicians want to risk their career and re-start it anyway, he need to go through strict protocol too for nuclear plant permit. Nobody dare to risk it together with him, all along the ways he will need rubber stamps and verification from many authorities.

fourth, if you can't trust Japanese scientist and technologist with years of knowledge and experience in managing the power plant, who else you can trust? i believe they are FAR more smarter and wiser than you and me alone. They carried out more research and risk-assessment than you and me, or even than many nuclear operators in the world

fifth, everybody WANT clean AND safe power. you and me want it. we can just easily install solar panel on our rooftop. but say it to the industry people. With Japan high tech and high precision industries running, you know how much power they consumed everyday? if they shut down you know how many families will lose the incomes?please be realistic

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

@Mark

Please take my word as a native English speaker that hypocrite is used as an insult. Also, I asked you to provide examples from people on this page. It’s pretty hard to ascertain people here receive bribes daily. 

How many of those have been hit by earthquakes that reduced the structural integrity by 15 and 70 percent on the 1st and 2nd floors respectively?

There is next to no personal responsibly in corporate or governmental Japan. I do believe that a Japanese politician will do something detrimental to the people for personal gain. Take the simple fact the people in this area are starkly opposed to recommissioning but the mayor advocated for it. 

I trust the scientists and engineers. But as history is bound to repeat, the voices of scientists and engineers will be ignored by those in power. 

I’m sorry, I can’t understand what you’re trying to say in your last point.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

And now this is how they finally admit that there was indeed flooding inside. At the time we only heard mention of a little sea water splashing over the top of the sea wall, and no damage.

Quote: At the Onagawa complex, all three reactors -- the same boiling water reactors as in Fukushima -- shut down when a massive quake and a 13-meter tsunami hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, flooding the underground floors of the No. 2 unit.

Further, Wiki tells us that:

More recently, Tohoku Electric reported that the third floor of No. 2 reactor building lost about 70% of its structural rigidity and the first floors lost 25%, compared to when they were built, and was planning to reinforce the structures for increased quake resistance

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Oh great. So they've decided the old plant can withstand all future earthquakes and tsunami? Even if it costs tens of thousands of lives, money is still more important.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

if they shut down you know how many families will lose the incomes?

My mother in law is about to pass away. The cost of the funeral was quoted at $25000 all up.

The cost of nuclear accident related long term medical treatment before short lifespan is estimated at $70000-120000. As somebody related to the hospital environment, I know there is a shortage of doctors in rural areas where most of the dinosaur reactors are located.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I find it confusing that they state the Chernobyl disaster was worse than the Fukushima disaster. Chernobyl did blow out radioactive material over a large area. However, due to it not having a containment vessel the material was quite simply cleaned up and the site was capped with tons of concrete. On the other hand, Fukushima is still very much an active disaster nearly ten years after the event and the worst could still be yet to come. They still have no idea how they will remove and store the melted fuel rods from the containment vessel, a vessel that has been breached and is leeching highly radioactive water into the ocean and groundwater. There are over a million tons of radioactive water stored around the plant in temporary tanks that is growing every day. TEPCO has admitted the water was not properly filtered and contains many more harmful isotopes than just tritium (irradiated hydrogen). The man-made nuclear disaster at Fukushima is far from under control and just one slip up could see the old sci-fi movie ‘The China Syndrome’ becoming a reality.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

dear kiwi

The 825,000-kilowatt reactor won the approval of the Nuclear Regulation Authority in February

do you think that this authority will bow down to politicians? if you think so, you shall get access to its report and read it by yourself. don't you think that everything quoted as " i think" “i assume" is kinda of conspiracy theory with no solid prove? It is Japan we are talking about, with years of experience in disasters and management of nuclear reactors, with world top brilliant talents there, not any third-world developing countries we know. If their daily research and 9am-5pm dedicated works can be denied by " i think, i assume, i believe", then i believe there is no points we argue the issue anymore.

seriously i never read its report but i choose to trust in expertise judgement rather than conspiracy theory, that's all. If the safety level is within expertise's tolerance level, i believe they know what they are doing about.

i dont know in your perspective "hypocrite" is an insult or not, but i know in my view if somebody denied something, but at the same time using that something with no shame, then that's 100% absolute hypocrite. forgive me for not able to find another more polite words to describe it.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Japan's nuclear regulation that never investigate even practicability of evacuation plans, Extensive natural disaster that occur frequently in Japan, Suga government who prioritizes to benefit large corporation than safe of citizen, It is no wonder even if second nuclear disaster will be caused in Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Mark you're arguing semantic in a language you don't speak well. Please stop, or pay someone to explain why you're wrong.

Secondly you're grossly misinformed. The Japanese NRA is a branch of the Ministry of the Environment. They are the government. They are not an independent body.

Here are some hard facts for you then. The International Atomic Energy Agency (a U.N body) has repeatedly cautioned Japan for their lax attitudes. Their 2011 Nuclear Safety Action Plan stated the Japanese NRA lacks both independence and oversight. In turn their lack of oversight was a major contributing factor to the Fukushima meltdown.

Go and read about the 東海村JCO臨界事故. Twenty years ago they were mixing chemicals in metal buckets. Completely ignoring the designed safety steps. Here's a quote for you.

During the trial, the jury learned that a 1995 JCO safety committee had approved the use of steel buckets in the procedure. Furthermore, a widely distributed but unauthorized 1996 manual recommended the use of buckets in making the solution. A STA report indicated JCO management had permitted these hazardous practices beginning in 1993 to shortcut the conversion process, even though it was contrary to approved nuclear chemical handling procedures.

So we have a non independent body, set up by the government. A history of gross negligence, leading to two nuclear disasters.

These aren't conspiracy theories. This is fact. This is logical thought and critical thinking.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@kiwi i suggest you to further your studies or refer to your grammar teacher to understand whatever i said. you like the conspiracy theory, go ahead and be my guest. i can live with it

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@kiwi, last i checked, nz dont even have nuclear technology, now i understand why someone felt so agitated and annoyed by this new tech. anyway keep learning from Japan and i believe one day someone can catch up with it

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Mark

Ok, here's another word you obviously don't understand.

Semantics

the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning. The two main areas are logical semantics, concerned with matters such as sense and reference and presupposition and implication, and lexical semantics, concerned with the analysis of word meanings and relations between them.

If you think reports published by the UN are a conspiracy, I worry for you.

You're right, NZ doesn't have a nuclear program. We are however the home of the," Father of Nuclear Physics" Sir Ernest Rutherford.

We as a country saw what the bombs did your country and said never again. We fought diplomatically against the Americans to be nuclear free. Even now NZ and America have a poor relationship because of it. NZ is nuclear free and I think that is something to be proud of.

Im neither annoyed or agitated by this "new" (70 year old) technology. I understand it's dangers and benefits. I'm annoyed by apathy and ignorance. Traits you so keenly project.

I implore you, instead of getting so indignant about your country's shortfalls, to look for ways to improve them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@kiwi, when fact is against your understanding and knowledge, diverting attention to vocabulary shall be a good tactic? please stop and help me, grow up. For me i respect your views, i agree to disagree. Anyway man need to grow up and stop the language class or being so ego to accept other people opinions. Maybe this is what people call white ego and make me felt disgusted toward it. this is the only lesson i learn today.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

i feel the same for you

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What is the big deal? After all, what is the worst that could happen?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The last nuclear power plant in California, the aptly named Diablo (Devil) Canyon, will start decommissioning in 2024. Meanwhile, Japan, and its nuclear power plants, is 8,500 kilometers away.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"" local government leaders is the last remaining step needed after it cleared a national safety screening in February.""

and the decision will take place at the nearest HOST BAR.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

As the increased risk for lungcancer is just one percent while smoking do increase the risk with 1 500 percent. Smoking is quite more risky. The three accidents just resulted in about 40 deaths compare to Wind Power killing 166 persons worldwide in year 2016. One single year results in more deaths than during the nuclear operation so far and probably the future accidents will have less impact on the environment than reacent years.

0 ( +0 / -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