politics

Cabinet OKs bill to cap nuclear reactor life

38 Comments

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Since the reactors at Fukushima were 40 years old and were unable to withstand both the earthquake or tsunami setting the maximum life cycle of a reactor at 30 years would be safer. Companies can also apply for a 20 year extension making 60 years in total.

The IAEA inspections were nothing more than a PR stunt.

The reactors are no safer than they were one year ago.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Change the name of Japan, to the land of the loop hole.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"The cabinet approved bills Tuesday aimed at bolstering nuclear safety regulations following last year’s Fukushima disaster, including one that would put a 40-year cap on the operational life of nuclear reactors."

Just paying themselves lip service, as usual, given that companies can apply for an extension (and I'm willing to bet it won't be some 70-page application manual that's hard to understand, either. More like just an envelope that says, "Stick bribe money in here"). People will be almost 100% against restarting the reactors, but despite the law which states they must get the consent of the local community they'll start them up anyhow, saying, "We seek your understanding on this issue."

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"We seek your understanding on this issue."

I am thinking it would be more like: "We will not be able to hand out any more subsidies to the community unless the power plants are restored, we hope you understand."

Overall, I like the sense of neutrality of this article.

As for the "power crunch", I think it would be inevitable either way. The current rule that requires power plants to be taken offline for maintenance means that if and when the go signal is given, most (if not all) of the NPPs would go online, and down again every after 13 months (for more useless stress tests?).

@Mabo

I agree, even when I was starting to learn the Japanese language, I was already exposed to the general rule: "All rules have exceptions"

0 ( +1 / -1 )

40 years or case by case.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Electricity is important for Japan's economy. If a plant is safe, it's life may be extended. This is a win/win for all. The people in the area get high quality electricity, and power companies can avoid the expense of building a new plant.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

j4p4nFTW,

what's high quality electricity? Never heard of that before? Power is power?

The people of Fukushima never got any power from the Fukushima NPP, that all went to Tokyo.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

what's high quality electricity?

It's domestic electricity, so it is a higher quality standard.

-8 ( +0 / -7 )

Bwahahahhaha "HIGH QUALITY" electricity. I'm sorry but that's the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a while. Zichi is totally right to question that.

I tossed that around in my office and none of my colleagues have ever heard such a thing.

It sounds like something a smug aristocrat might say. "We've got high quality electricity in our home" "We can use 60w LED light bulds". Your neighborhood gets ghetto quality electricity from Kurobe Dam.

Personally I can't tell the difference.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

sorry but all electricity is the same. There's no such thing as domestic electricity. The only difference is AC or DC.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If you want to check the quality of your electricity, lick your finger and stick it in the power point. If it hurts, its high quality power!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

@j4p4nFTW,

It's domestic electricity, so it is a higher quality standard.

-Does that mean that Chinese electricity is of higher quality than Japanese, in China?

-Is there any electricity that is not domestic production in Japan?

-The uranium used in Nuclear plants surely was not mined here in japan. So the fuel is as foreign as oil.

and power companies can avoid the expense of building a new plant.

-Japan already had lots of underused Thermal and Hydro plants. There will be no shortage with nuclear gone.

-I don't think the costs of oil imports will in reality be any higher than the costs of Uranium imports, fuel reprocessing etc etc for nuclear.

-Long term, it is probably best for Japanese economy to look at developing improved 'green' tech for electricity production, become the world leader in this tech and sell it all over the world. Japan is already getting lots of 'green' contracts internationally, so lets improve on this even further.

Finally what does 'High Quality Electricity(power)' usually mean?

-This phrase is usually used to describe the need of very high level consumers (factories) where the tolerances for deviating voltage, frequency or current are very small. Or cases where an outage can cause catastrophic consequences.

-This type of product can be produced by many methods

-But it has traditionally been used a selling point of nuclear. Although anyone can understand that a turbine with a certain specification spinning at a certain speed will generate the same type of power completely independent of the energy source boiling the water that is driving it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Of course Japanese electricity is of a far higher quality than foreign electricity. Japanese electrons are subject to strict inspections and quality control, unlike the defective electrons found in overseas electricity.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

It's domestic electricity, so it is a higher quality standard.

So you mean to say that we, the ones who are living a distance away from NPPs are actually paying for sub-standard electricity?

That made my headache hurt a bit.

Back to topic: if what zichi said is true (hey, I do!), NPPs pay for themselves in about 30 years, and the remaining 10 for pure profit. What's the extra 20 years for?

We already have lots of existing power plants, and several more under construction ... even though we really don't need that much.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Finally what does 'High Quality Electricity(power)' usually mean?

-This phrase is usually used to describe the need of very high level consumers (factories) where the tolerances for deviating voltage, frequency or current are very small. Or cases where an outage can cause catastrophic consequences.

Although, from now on I think I will use zichi's much more illustrative definition instead.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Agreed... I have no idea what 'good quality electricity' means, as though electricity 'made in China' might be of inferior quality of something. Sorry, but it's the SYSTEM and power grid, not to mention the companies themselves, that are of a superior or inferior nature, and TEPCO has proven that they are infact quite inferior... and just plain stupid to boot.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Atomic power plants are fully paid for after 20 years, after that,

"Pure profit!"

For 10, 20 or even 40 years!

Billions and billions.

I think that's why power companies like TEPCO don't want to spend billions on safety and plant updates.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Squid:

Well, quality might mean that the risk of brownouts or blackouts is small. Say less than 0.1 percent of time per Year. Or that overvoltage and undervoltage are within tight limits, like 3 percent or so. And that the frequency does not vary so much. So your electric appliances work well and do not blow up.

In this respect, nuclear power plants have some advantage, as they can provide a quite stable supply of electrical power. As you said, it finally depends on the turbine, so the same is true for coal or oil or gas operated thermal plants. However, for wind generators or solar power generation without sufficient storage, there is some power fluctuation as function of wind or sunlight, so in this regard, this would be "lower quality electricity".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The voltage variations have nothing to do with the method of boiling the kettle to make the steam. In so many ways, using atomic energy to boil a kettle is expensive.

The voltage variations are strictly controlled especially with so much sensitive equipment in use, like computers and medical equipment.

There is no difference between industrial and domestic power, except industrial is three phrase and domestic single phrase, but if you have have a large house you can have three phrase too which my house is.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

-Does that mean that Chinese electricity is of higher quality than Japanese, in China?

No

-Is there any electricity that is not domestic production in Japan?

Static electricity brought in from airline passengers, perhaps.

-The uranium used in Nuclear plants surely was not mined here in japan. So the fuel is as foreign as oil.

It's the finished product that matters.

Finally what does 'High Quality Electricity(power)' usually mean? This phrase is usually used to describe the need of very high level consumers (factories) where the tolerances for deviating voltage, frequency or current are very small. Or cases where an outage can cause catastrophic consequences.

Yes, thank you. This is main point. It is necessary for the economy to run it's best.

-8 ( +0 / -7 )

It is necessary for the economy to run it's best.

Um ... say what now? My headache just got hurt again.

How can you equate power generation stability to economy?

We can see that in Europe, where earthquakes and tsunamis are not a problem, their electricity is very very stable ... but the economy is crashing. Before 3/11, Japan's electricity was stable and most of the NPPs were working, but the economy was already failing at the time.

P.S. I would like to understand your point of views. Whatever you're smoking, can I have some?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@j4p4nFTW That's not what you said originally. You weren't talking about factories.

You said:

The people in the area get high quality electricity.

It would be better to just admit that was a silly thing to say and we all had a good laugh from it. Nobody is against YOU personally. We are just debating and sharing ideas. Come on, admit that was a good laugh.

A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. With that said, it's the relay stations that are most important. Then there's the wiring and equipment that help maintain the flow of energy output.

Oh and don't lick your finger and put it in a socket. Zichi was just kidding. I don't want you to try that. If you do Zichi might get in trouble for encouraging you. No Weird Science, okay.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@j4pnFTW

It's the finished product that matters. Then electricity from an oil or coal fueled Thermal plant is just as domestic as the nuclear alternative.

Yes, thank you. This is main point. It is necessary for the economy to run it's best. And as I said many other technologies, beside nuclear can provide this. No need for nuclear power to achieve this. In fact it can be argued, that as nuclear power plants have Auto-SCRAM procedures for earthquakes, their quality is then less than that of an oil or coal fueled plant.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"higher quality domestic electricity" - :-)...i think it is the kizuna spirit that can also be found in the domestic electricity - beig Japanese it bonds and works better with Japanese factories ..something we gaijin have no chance of ever understanding, right j4p4? :-)

2 ( +1 / -0 )

@j4pnFTW (reposting because JT Board ate my end quotes again)

It's the finished product that matters. Then electricity from an oil or coal fueled Thermal plant is just as domestic as the nuclear alternative.

Yes, thank you. This is main point. It is necessary for the economy to run it's best

And as I said many other technologies, beside nuclear can provide this. No need for nuclear power to achieve this. In fact it can be argued, that as nuclear power plants have Auto-SCRAM procedures for earthquakes, their quality is then less than that of an oil or coal fueled plant.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The electricity comes from the generator, and is distributed through a grid with relays, transformers and the like. Everything else is just an energy source to produce steam to turn the turbines; or in the case of wind, water and tidal power, to turn the turbines directly or via gearing.

PS: Have never seen a collector for static electricity at any airport in Japan. Perhaps it is discharged when the fingerprints are taken?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

40 years + loopholes = as long as you want

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Did age factor into the Fukushima disaster? Any of the changes that could have been made to prevent this disaster were known well ahead of March 2011 and could have been implemented, but were not and the list of other mistakes that occurred following the earthquake/tsunami could just as easily have been made at a new reactor!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"With great power comes great responsibility." So the question is does the cabinet willing to take any responsibilities?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@deepstar, well said.

I always felt that the weakest point in Nuclear Power, is the human. And that includes:

Law-makers, Policy-makers, regulators and bureaucrats,nuclear physicists, nuclear engineers, technicians, electricians, parts fabricators, nuclear operators, power company execs and so on and so on.....

If you are sure that not one of the thousands of people involved in the process of designing, building and operating a nuclear power plant never commits any mistakes, never puts profit over safety, never has a bad day because he found out his wife is sleeping with the milk-man etc. etc. Then and only then can nuclear power be safe. And I don't see human nature changing like that in any foreseeable future.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@SquidBert, very true !!

We are too weak to handle this.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Cabinet OKs bill to cap nuclear reactor life

Nuclear reactors seem to be doing quite well capping life on their own, thank you.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

J4p4n, did you mean that domestic (domestically-produced) electricity is better quality, ( for the environment, ie, it does not rely on gas, coal and oil imports which increase CO2 release)? If so, then your post makes sense.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The biggest nuclear disasters in the world are Chernobyl, Fukushima and Three Mile Island. The disasters at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were caused by human error. The disaster at Fukushima was caused by a mixture of earthquake, tsunami and human error.

Basically, nuclear power is just to dangerous for humans.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The best source of energies are the free ones like geothermal, hydro, tidal, wave, solar, wind.

And like nuclear energy they all produce very low levels of CO2 and other green house gases. 30% of domestic energy is used for heating water by gas or electric. With the wide use of heat pumps like EcoCute, that could be reduced by as much as 25% and further provide enough hot water to have central heating systems in the winter and could also be used for ac in the summer.

Both America and China are generating about 50,000MW of power from wind turbines. Japan has been slow on the uptake and only generates about 5,000MW. I favor off shore wind turbines. Also tidal power.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

My point, was that if you want you can view all nuclear disasters as human error, it is just a question of in what part of the process the error has occurred.

(political decision, planning, design, location, operating, fabrication etc. etc. )

And in fact once you realize all the costs and all the places where error can occur, the very idea of building a nuclear plant becomes the biggest human error of them all.

I second your favoring of off shore wind, and tidal power.

With efficient harvesting of wave and tidal power Japan could have all the power it ever needed, and perhaps protect it's coastline in a slightly more use full way than just dumping concrete tetra pods all over the place.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sanctions are put upon when nuclear weapons are successfully tested in a controlled fashion. Unfortunately as it may sound, NO SANCTIONS when nuclear plants uncontrollably blasts off? You can beat around the bush how much ever you want and cap reactor life, but you can never cap the consequences of a nuclear disaster. Has the cabinet even considered this?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The legislation, which still needs Diet approval to take effect, does allow for an extension of up to 20 years in some cases

So what are the criteria defined by the law to allow an extension? A suitcase with money?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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