Monday, October 14, 2013

Mainichi: "40% of Japan nuclear tech exported over past decade failed to go through safety check"

Well, not really. The manufacturers weren't required to go through safety checks because they didn't use government loans.

Besides, even though the Mainichi English's article below inadvertently (I hope) omits, safety checks for nuclear exports amount to quick checks of the paper documents.

As the Abe administration continues to make nuclear tech exports as the new national policy, all I can say is caveat emptor.

From Mainichi Shinbun English version (10/14/2013; emphasis is mine):

40% of Japan nuclear tech exported over past decade failed to go through safety check

About 40 percent of Japanese nuclear plant equipment exported over the past decade -- worth some 51.1 billion yen -- failed to go through national government safety inspections, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

The government conducts safety inspections on nuclear plant equipment that is to be exported only if manufacturers receive loans from the government-affiliated Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), or take out insurance policies from Nippon Export and Investment Insurance, an independent administrative agency. This is in sharp contrast to the requirement that all devices for domestic nuclear power stations be subject to strict government safety inspections.

An expert involved in the Japan Atomic Energy Commission's compilation of a new nuclear power policy outline said the finding highlights insufficiencies in the government's system to examine nuclear plant equipment for export.

"It came as a surprise to me that many exported nuclear plant-related devices failed to undergo safety inspections," said Keio University professor Masaru Kaneko. "Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claimed in a speech overseas that Japan can provide the world's safest atomic power technology, but how can Japan guarantee the safety of nuclear plant equipment Japanese firms export without a proper system to examine it?"

Japanese manufacturers exported some 124.8 billion yen worth of nuclear plant equipment to 23 countries and territories from 2003 to 2012, according to the Finance Ministry's trade statistics.

Of that, some 73.7 billion yen worth sold to five countries -- China, the United States, France, Belgium and Finland -- received prior government safety inspections, according to documents that the Mainichi has obtained from the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy under the freedom of information system. The remainder, worth approximately 51.1 billion yen, failed to go through such checks.

Devices exported without going through safety inspections include those for the installation at Taiwan's fourth atomic power station, and repair works in Sweden and Brazil, according to manufacturer officials and the Japan Electrical Manufacturers' Association's internal documents.

Three major manufacturers of nuclear plants -- Hitachi, Ltd., Toshiba Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. are among the manufacturers that exported relevant equipment without safety inspections. Among the items exported without inspection are key components such as nuclear reactor pressure vessels, their lids and control rod driving systems.

Since many sections of the documents released by the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy had been redacted, it remains unclear whether all the 73.7 billion yen worth of devices underwent full government safety checks.

Japanese manufacturers must pay heavy compensation if nuclear plant devices they have exported fail.

And as often the case with Mainichi Shinbun, the English version omits one important piece of information: that the safety inspection by the Japanese government for the nuclear exports is nothing but on paper only.

From Mainichi Japanese:


[Government safety inspection for nuclear exports] is only a quick inspection of documents, "insufficient to begin with"

Either the translator and the editor for Mainichi English didn't read the Japanese article carefully, or they decided to cover for the Japanese government when wrote: "it remains unclear whether all the 73.7 billion yen worth of devices underwent full government safety checks".

Well they didn't, as there is no "full" government safety checks for nuclear exports to begin with.

(H/T Enformable)


JAnonymous said...

Hisashiburi !

Speaking of nuclear safety and inspections, there is only one way to maintain zero-risk in the nuclear safety industry. It is called shutdown and decommission.

Nuclear power amounts to a very small percentage of the worldwide energy production, and electrical power generation itself is far from being the main energy source. Let's look at facts.

1/ For electricity production. The world nuclear association, a nuclear lobbyist association, states that "In 2011 the world's nuclear reactors supplied 2518 TWh of electricity (2518 billion kilowatt hours). This represents around 13% of global electricity consumption." (from their own website, a pity they don't have the stat for 2012 though). Why put populations at risk for hundred of thousand of years for a measly 13% ? I am clueless.

2/ For energy production. The International Energy Agency has a "Key World Energy Statistics" presentation for 2012 (even though the values are from 2010, go figure). You can check it out at . The truth is : in 2010, energy produced by nuclear fuel (including all then-working japanese nuclear reactors) amounted to 5.7% of the world production, vs 21.4% for nat gas, 27.3% for coal and 32.4% for oil.

Why do we even care about nuclear at all ? I understand that some people care about it for their business, but i can't accept that we let them have their way.

Mankind has not even been around for 100'000 years, yet we plan to have underground storage vaults for nuclear waste that must last that long... The USA are not even 300 years old and already look like a political quagmire where they can't agree on the most basic things (except for who to drone). I'm done for today !

O daijini

VyseLegendaire said...

Wonder how one could have 'safety' checks on fundamentally unsafe technology?

Anonymous said...

The usual. Countries always try to portray themselves positively to international markets, whilst they shaft everyone locally.

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