Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Genkai Nuclear Plant with MOX-Fuel "Pluthermal" Reactor To Get Back Online by Early July

The municipal government of Genkai-cho in Saga Prefecture (red in the map) in Kyushu and Kyushu Electric Power Company are ready to re-start the Reactors 3 and 4 at Genkai Nuclear Power Plant.

The Reactor 3 at Genkai Nuclear Power Plant uses MOX fuel in addition to uranium fuel, in what the Japanese call "pluthermal" (plutonium + thermal) nuclear power generation. In fact, it is the first MOX fuel reactor in Japan. (The Fukushima I's Reactor 3 is the third one.)

Japan's MOX fuel comes from France, by the way.

In December 2010, 1 year after they started using MOX fuel in the reactor for commercial power generation, an elevated level of radioactive iodine was detected in the RPV cooling water (4 times the limit). They discovered that there were minute pinholes in one fuel rod (uranium) through which radioactive iodine was leaking (Yomiuri Shinbun Kyushu edition, 12/11/2010, Kyushu Electric press release 2/8/2011, in Japanese). Upon the discovery, the plant shut down the Reactor 3 and started a "regular maintenance" earlier than scheduled.

8 out of 12 town assemblymen in Genkai-cho are in favor of re-starting the reactors, quite satisfied with the beefed-up safety measures at the plant. Problem? What problem? Iodine leaking? What is iodine?

The plant is located in northern Kyushu, in Saga Prefecture. Talk about downwind. Almost entire Japan will be downwind from the plant.

Money talks, and talks loud.

From Tokyo Shinbun, citing Kyodo News but including more info than Kyodo News (02:14AM JST 6/8/2011):

 佐賀県玄海町の岸本英雄町長は7日、定期検査で停止中の九州電力玄海原発2、3号機について、九電に安全対策強化などの条件を提示した上で、7月 初旬までに運転再開への同意を伝える方針を明らかにした。東京電力福島第1原発の事故後、原発が立地する自治体が再稼働を容認するのは初。

Hideo Kishimoto, mayor of Genkai-cho in Saga Prefecture, said on June 7 he would agree to Kyushu Electric Power Company's re-starting the Reactors 2 and 3 at its Genkai Nuclear Power Plant by early July, after showing Kyushu Electric the conditions for the re-start including increased safety measures at the plant. It will be the first time any local government agrees to the re-start of a nuclear power plant in its jurisdiction.


There is no law that requires the consent of local municipalities and assemblies to restart reactors after a regular maintenance. However, Kyushu Electric has said the "local consensus" of the prefecture and the town should be in place before the restart. Saga governor Yasushi Furukawa, who has shown


Mayor Kishimoto plans to call the executives at Kyushu Electric to his office around July 1, hand them the memorandum that specifies the conditions for the restart which include 1) stronger measures against terrorism and heavy rains; 2) reduction of human errors as much as possible; 3) PR to the local residents for greater understanding, and will verbally give his consent to the re-start.

  玄海町議会は今月1日の特別委員会で、町議全12人のうち8人が再開に賛成の意を表明済み。岸本町長は「本来なら国が一定の判断をすべきだが、町議会が賛 成の判断を固め、震災後の緊急安全対策もきちんと実施されていることが確認できた。九州の生活を守るには(運転再開が)必要だ」と理由を説明した。

The Genkai-cho Assembly already gave its approval in a special committee meeting on June 1, with 8 assemblymen out of 12 giving their consent to the re-start. Mayor Kishimoto says, "The national government ought to give the decision, but the town Assembly has approved, and we are able to confirm that the emergency safety measures after the March 11 earthquake have been effectively carried out. In order to protect the way of life in Kyushu, the re-start of the reactors at Genkai is necessary."


Meanwhile, the Saga prefectural government will call on the METI's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency on June 9, and receive the explanation on earthquake countermeasures. The prefectural government is still in talks with Kyushu Electric over the re-start of the reactors.

The governor of Saga is another elite Tokyo University graduate (law school), and a career government bureaucrat.


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