Monday, May 27, 2013

At Least 4 Nuke Plants Will Apply for Restart Under the New Safety Regulations to Be Implemented in July

If they are approved, there will be 8 additional reactors, including one with MOX fuel, will be online in Japan, in addition to two reactors at Ooi Nuclear Power Plant.

These plants are:

  1. Takahama Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 3 (MOX), Reactor 4, operated by Kansai Electric Power Company;

  2. Ikata Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 3, operated by Shikoku Electric Power Company;

  3. Sendai Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 1, Reactor 2, operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company; and

  4. Tomari Nuclear Power Plant: Reactors 1, 2 and 3, operated by Hokkaido Electric Power Company.

Hokkaido Electric has postponed the plan to use MOX fuel for Reactor 3, but the plan is not abandoned. With local municipalities counting on MOX fuel subsidies to the tune of 6 billion yen, big money for these small municipalities, there will be a strong pressure for Hokkaido Electric, once the plant is back in operation, to pursue MOX fuel.

Shikoku Electric's Ikata Nuclear Power Plant sits near the tail end of the Median Tectonic Line, one of the biggest fault lines in Japan.

NHK News (5/28/2013) says the operators of these plants are going to apply anyway even though the plants may not satisfy the new safety regulations being compiled by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority.

Some of the problems that even NHK seems to recognize are:

Risk evaluation and the safety countermeasures for the maximum size of tsunami or for volcanic eruptions that will be newly required haven't been completed, they are "under consideration";

How much safety can be ascertained in less than two months is not known;

There are cases [NHK doesn't say which ones] where "emergency headquarters" as mandated by the new standard will be substituted by other facilities;

There are cases where the operators says there is no need for "seawalls" because the expected height of tsunami is lower than the site elevation.

Uh... have we heard the last one before?

I think it is a clever ploy by the plant operators to apply at the same time for 4 plants with 9 total reactors, because the Nuclear Regulatory Authority lacks manpower to be able to assess the safety of each as they solidify the new safety regulations that are still evolving.

According to NHK, the operator of Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant Reactor 2, Japan Atomic Power Company, says it will apply for the restart of that reactor anyway, even though the reactor has been declared by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority's panel of experts to be directly above the active fault line.

And there is TEPCO, who wants to restart Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant with 7 reactors in Niigata Prefecture, even though they too may be sitting on the active fault line.

Fukushima happened, so we're safe for another decade or two at least. That must be the thinking.


JAnonymouis said...

Geez, I don't know, but somehow I am convinced as well that people are thinking along these lines: we're safe for a couple decades. I'm wondering why I had two tire punctures in a week on my bicycle, where I was thinking I was safe for 3 more months.

How long before a researcher comes up with an article that predicts nuclear accidents, so that they can shutdown the plants in advance. That would be quite an achievement.

Mainstream (people, media, whatever) has a very skewed understanding of the law of large numbers. People believe that if something highly unlikely happened in March 2011, it won't happen again before long. What the law of large numbers says, is that the probability of it happening among on a large number of 'trials' is converging towards the theoretical probability X.

That doesn't mean it can't happen every year, only that "on a long enough timeline", it will have happened with a probability close to X.

Also, much could be said about how X was computed in the first place, and how independent are these experiments (i.e. not a lot).

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Yeah JA, somewhere in the US a town was hit by "100-year flood" - a flood that is supposed to occur once in 100 years, but the town was hit by "100-year flood" last year too.

Anonymous said...

Well, has the NRA a deadline? Something like if they can't assess the plant within two months the plant is considered safe? I guess not, so what is the idea behind applying for so many plants? Maybe the utilities just split the applications among themselves (leaving out Tepco which is directly funded by the taxpayer directly so does not need restarts that badly)?

By the way, I believe the NRA is not planning to even *start* assessing Tsuruga, for obvious reasons.


netudiant said...

Surely the first plant to be restarted should be units 5 and 6 at Fukushima. The site has demonstrated its ability to survive a magnitude 9 earthquake and a 15 meter tsunami with minimal damage. Plus if it does blow up, that will hardly be noticed in terms of incremental damage. Finally, TEPCO and the region both need some good news for a change, so restarting nuclear Japan at the place where it went of the rails might be appropriate.

Anonymous said...

netudiant should be working PR for Tepco :)

Why haven't they come up with this one yet!!!

Anonymous said...

In a zynical kind of way, netudiant is actually right. The Fukushima site and surrounding area is already messed up, so if Japan takes further risks, why not where things are already badly out of control? Although, IIRC, units 5 and 6 also had issues with groundwater leaking into basements, no?
In any case, I suppose we'll see by the NRA's reaction if any of the safety rules and regulations and therefore the NRA itself is worth anything. I'm not having my hopes up very high.

Darth 3.11 said...

Netudiant is also wrong (but funny) in that if anything went wrong with restarted Fukushima plants, the released radiation would still drift right down to Tokyo, with any lack of wind direction luck at all. No thank you. Not to mention recontaminating everyone locally again.

Maybe that would simply be spun as more jobs for unemployed farmers and locals scraping bark off trees and bagging Mother Nature for more radioactive landfill next to elementary schools is a good thing.

Seriously though, if another npp goes "off the rails" anytime soon, I don't see how the Japanese economy could survive intact. This alone proves that restarting these horror shows is not worth it.

Anonymous said...

There is shortage of personnel at Fukushima Daiichi. Tepco should send there current and past top management: no one will miss their management skills and no "incremental damage" will be observed at all. Besides the Japanese people need some "good news" and having responsible people taking responsibility in a way other than cashing a royal retirement package would be uplifting.

Seriously though, has Tepco fixed all damages to units 5,6 at Daiichi and Daini? Neither really survived the earthquake intact. For Daini, Tepco estimated two years to repair the damages.

NHK has a wealth of depressing nuclear news today. South Koreans falsified cable tests at Busan and Gyeongju so two units have been stopped. The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation drafted a report stating that there will be no *manifest* health effects as a result of Fukushima; the report is based on *estimates* of the radioactive material releases (monitoring posts conveniently failed and people were tested for contamination way too late). They also used estimates of the harmful levels, I guess. (According to ICRP, an industry-backed nuclear policy NPO, there is no safe dose.)
A government study group estimated that, in a worst case scenario, an earthquake originated from the Nankai trough would cause about 15 times the casualties of the 2011 earthquake. What is going to happen to npps in such a case?


netudiant said...

re Anonymous @ 10.48am.

I'm always open to attractive offers, but I'd need to hire Arevamirpal as coordinator, I don't speak or read Japanese.

re Darth 3.11, afaik the winds at Fukushima are offshore much of the year, although summer is a problem.

re Beppe, the Daini plant was flooded pretty thoroughly, so a 2 year cleanup seems pretty plausible. I believe the ground water infiltration into Daiichi 5 and 6 was because the drain pumps were left without power for a long interval. I've seen nothing suggesting either unit 5 or 6 suffered material damage.

Vyse Legendaire said...

Maybe Japan should just commit 'economic seppuku' and shut down all nuclear plants, and begin the first bold step towards winding down the nightmare known as the industrial economy/?

Anonymous said...


Units 5,6 cooling systems suffered repeated problems in the months after the earthquake. The flooding of their basement caused severe electrical damage. Seawater pumps at Daichi have been wiped out, and this includes those serving units 5 and 6.

If you have seen nothing suggesting material damage you probably need to étude a little more.


Darth 3.11 said...

Netudiant: Your point?
"afaik the winds at Fukushima are offshore much of the year, although summer is a problem."

Hello, 3/11 happened in MARCH, not the summer. And Tokyo received more than enough radioactivity to cause considerable concern, especially with mothers worried sick that feeding their kids water was going to damage their health. Not to mention the many spots of worryingly high Geiger counter measurements. ANYTIME for a huge meltdown is not good. And not to mention that even TODAY I have to worry if it is a safe choice to buy produce from Ibaraki-ken or Chiba-ken. Miyagi/Fuku is certainly on my "Do not buy" list. There is no reliable testing or information on food labeling here beyond the broad strokes of the prefecture. So, do not be so cavelier, Netud.

netudiant said...

Re Darth 3.11
The impact of Fukushima would certainly have been much worse had the prevailing winds not been offshore for the initial accident interval. The hasty about face of the USS Reagan speaks volumes about the intensity of the initial plume. Tokyo fortunately did not get hit by any sustained wind borne contamination until the site emissions had begun to decline substantially.
You are quite right to wonder about your produce, but I don't think the labeling is trustworthy. Labels imho are lies approved by the government. If producers in Europe can blithely sustain a massive horsemeat for beef substitution, you think that produce in Japan is going to be reliably classified?

Re Anonymous at 12.52 I'm aware that the units 5 and 6 have also suffered, but they did not get salt water flooded, whereas the Daini units certainly did. So it seems logical that 5 and 6 would be relatively easy to repair. The site at this point is arguably lower risk for large earthquakes than any other in Japan and is probably no worse in terms of wind patterns. Apart from emotion, it seems the most logical place in Japan today for a nuclear unit. Whether Japan should resume its nuclear generation is of course the question that should be debated first, but if it has taken place, I missed it. Japanese decision making is apparently not easily understood by outsiders.

Anonymous said...

Oh netudiant, you've been hanging around Physics Forums way too much and it's rubbed off on you. Stay away from there, mon ami.

Why is the site arguably lower risk for large earthquakes than any other in Japan? I don't know how you come to this conclusion. Tomorrow there may be another even bigger earthquake with a bigger tsunami. Oddly, it would still be acknowledged as a once in a (?) year event if no other big earthquake hit within double the probable timeframe.

Known probability is only good until something improbable changes it.
Japan's east coast is one of the most seismically active in the world, if not THE most seismically active in the world. A chunk of the east coast could disappear into the sea and I would not think it improbable. Lower risk indeed! :-((

netudiant said...

Re anonymous @ 3.39pm It is really rare to have back to back large quakes in the same area, at least based on the historic record.
Such earthquake forecasting as we have is pretty much based on that, with higher risk in seismic gap areas. So on that basis, Fukushima should be relatively low in risk, as the stresses there have presumably been abated.
Obviously other disasters could still occur, but they apply at other sites as well.
You may argue that Japan is too seismically active for any nuclear reactor to be safe there.
That is a defensible stance, as the essential ongoing coolant supply is clearly vulnerable to quake disruption and the countermeasures deployed thus far are not convincing.
That is an instance where the Japanese decision making process is incomprehensible to outsiders.

PS Don't knock Physics Forum, it has good data.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

netudiant, your idea of freezing the soil/water to stop the groundwater flow beneath the reactor buildings has been adopted by the Japanese government.

Well, your idea that was presented by Kajima, that is.

Anonymous said...

Well, concerning labeling, maybe all produce from Kansai is labeled as from Fukushima and the other way around. Maybe. However I bet this is often not the case and I steer clear from almost everything between Tokyo and Hokkaido. Farmers have problems? fine, sell your stuff to Tepco, not to my kids.

Concerning statistics, I would suggest the following excercise. Load a revolver with one bullet and play Russian roulette with your right foot. After you shot youself, reload it and move on to your left foot. According to some theories your left foot should be much safer.


Anonymous said...

Beppe, it seems you understand probability and statistics well. Full marks.

Netudiant, in the subduction zone called the Ring of Fire, stresses are never really abated. That is why it is known as the most seismically active region in the world. As I wrote before, a chunk of east coast Japan could break off and be swallowed up by the sea tomorrow and nobody would be that surprised. Just because back to back big earthquakes have not happened, it may just mean they haven't happened YET. Anyway, a fat lot of good listening to earthquake risk assessment dimwits did for the Fukushima NPP the first time. The people on Physics Forums will tell you they did their best and, what do you want, it was an unprecidented seismic event nobody could have foreseen or prevented.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say---"nobody could have forseen and meltdowns could not have been prevented."

OSHA Posters said...

I think the world is a safer place without nuclear. Why can't it be shutdown?

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