Posts Tagged ‘Yukio Edano’

On 2012 March 19, The Asahi Shimbun reported that the “city of Osaka, the largest shareholder of Kansai Electric Power Co., will call on the utility to abolish all of its reactors “at the earliest possible time” and today, Mainichi Daily News commented that Osaka had “stirred ripples”. Articles are reproduced below. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s suggestion to phase out of nuclear power, surely surprised KEPCO investors but also citizens for its unusual thoughtfulness.

Kansai is the western region of Japan where Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara cities lie and, depending on definition, the nuclear power plant shore-lined prefecture of Fukui, where a 7.3 magnitude earthquake killed 1% of population and completely damaged 79% of buildings in 1948. Besides, prevalent winds blow from Fukui towards the huge drinking water Biwako reservoir and aforementioned Kansai cities. Under the radioactive fallout in case of such an earthquake would also be prefectures of Gifu and Aichi, an industrial heartland centered on Nagoya city, where Toyota, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toray Industries (worldwide leader in the carbon fiber industry that should make Boeing Dreamliner fly someday) are based. A new powerful earthquake in Fukui would probably relegate Japan a few ladders down the economic rankings. Kansai is already under severe economic stress – it always was but for a brief decade of national euphoria called the “bubble”.

Since about 30 years ago, poor Japanese regions exchanged time and again their votes and security against subventions and nuclear power plants. Whenever subventions would dry up, they would agree for a new reactor building. Nowadays that these are idled and that subventions have run out, poor regions cannot start a new cycle and are pushing and being pulled to ramp up their radioactive waste “management” business. In the same vote buyout scheme as for nuclear power plants, over-sized incinerator plants have been built and left unused due to their capacity threshold being over the actual amount of waste. Poor prefectures now plan to upgrade these little used, dioxin-spitting facilities so that they could operate at a wider range of waste quantities and include some kind of filtering for radiation. This scheme represents a large economic boost promise in terms of construction work, which is the main employment outside large cities – and under the control of yakuza gangs, who request some sustained business to replace the drop in their recruiting services for nuclear plant workers.

Radioactive waste are largely above what is considered as “low-level waste” worldwide and its incineration in current facilities turn their prefecture into secondary radioactive sources, the primary being Fukushima, still emitting as of 2012 March 22, a year after. Current secondary radioactive sources include 23 wards in Tokyo, Tomakomai (Hokkaido) and Shimada (Shizuoka, where Japanese green tea comes from).

Many prefectures have requested to become secondary radioactive sources, including places where the transportation hazard, time and cost had prevented the Japanese government to push for it such as Okinawa. However, Okinawa is surviving only by the presence of the US army and its underlying economy is threatened by a possible redeployment in Japan, in Guam or elsewhere. Tourism has been declining since about 5 years ago in Okinawa and will not pick up when it will effectively become a secondary radioactive source. Food in supermarkets in Okinawa come from all over Japan as it does not produce much besides beef which become labeled “Kobe” beef after spending 1 year in that heavily industrialized city. Okinawa cows are rather skinny so it must be quite a terrible feeding process that turn them into extra-fatty meat one year later in Kobe warehouses. There have been some scandals of radioactive wood used to bake pizzas in Okinawa, schools have been forced by parents to cancel radioactive snowball gifts, some vegetation like mosses from irradiated areas have been planted in Okinawa, etc. Okinawa is not a nuclear-free land anymore: this concept does not apply to any Japanese territory anymore one year after the disaster. As an advice to nuclear refugees from the no man’s land, if you cannot leave Japan, it is safer to settle down in cities where you can work to sustain a healthier lifestyle, not necessarily to the far end of the archipelago where they have no job; no sense about radio-protection; no clean food choice – and where you will be stuck when they start incinerating radioactive waste.

How does the new denuclearization scheme fit in with the irradiated waste incineration plan and is it for real? Kansai is searching for ways to revitalize its broken economy and incineration is one leg. The other leg is nuclear decommissioning, a potentially profitable business. It takes 5 years for nuclear combustible to cool down, under active controlled systems (or not so controlled systems). Then the proper decommissioning operations begin (and probably never really end). As an actual example, if we look at Sellafield in the UK, a mere 2 square mile facility, the official planning states that decommissioning and closure of the site is planned for 2120 (right: 108 years from now). After this stage, management of radioactive materials is forever. Therefore, decommissioning of the 3 reactors in Mihama, 4 in Oi and 4 in Takahama – and maybe Monju / Tsuruga – all in Fukui prefecture and globally called the Nuclear Ginza, could create a 300 years business, not including the storage and monitoring of million-year long radioactive waste. It could easily give a job to anyone and sustain the local economy. Additional benefits would come from the development of health care – did we mention that Osaka was a biotech center ?

Japanese pharmaceutical companies had trouble to compete globally because their drugs are not properly tested and have resulted in accidents and because they lack innovation. However, in the grand Osaka renewal scheme of joint radioactive waste incineration and nuclear decommissioning, there would be plenty of test subjects and Japan would have an incomparable lead in radiation-induced diseases, even though they would not be marketed as such: auto-immune diseases such as the Kawasaki syndrome, pneumonia, heart attacks, leukemia and all sorts of cancers, or any other kinds of affections described by Pr. Bandazhevsky, even in children (sic).

How is it that decommissioning would make the population sick? Nuclear reactor decommissioning is a task forecast to take over 1 century in the case of Sellafield but nuclear projects always get behind schedule (Areva EPR project in Finland as a relevant example). As a rule of thumb, you can at least double the time (in the case for Olkiluoto, Finland, Areva started in 2005, due to be completed in 4 years – now maybe in 9 years, probably 12) and since it is impossible to rule out wars, economic depressions, natural disasters and social unrest over the period of a century, it could take 4 to 500 years to carry out. The probability of the job being properly done to the end is marginal and our grandchildren, if they ever live, will most likely have to deal with no man’s lands in every place there used to be a nuclear power plant in the 20th century. Working in a nuclear power plant make people sick, they have in Japan, as well documented, not only in Fukushima. Work ethics are shoddy here and tasks are carried out by the 6th level of untrained sub-contractors aka yakuza firms. Nuclear Ginza and other locations in Japan like Tokaimura and Genkai accumulate accidents and are regularly leaking radioactive material, not surprisingly. Now let us project this over the next 500 years for a large segment of society busy cleaning a mess and adding to it at the same time: everyone would get sick, even if Hosono, Noda and Edano, the devilish Trinity as it were, were not working so hard to distribute contaminated food over all the territory – which they are. Mutations get transmitted to people who are not involved in the multi-generational task, weakening the whole society. As a side-note, it is of course impossible to decommission Fukushima nuclear plant within 40 years: it will never be really clean, no matter the official whitewash.

Recently 2 Japanese researchers apologized because they had taken some bone-marrow samples from cancer patients during surgical operations without anybody knowing: with radiation-induced diseases, all Japanese medical researchers would be able to experiment, publish their results and test new drugs on unsuspecting patients. When the Japanese war criminal in charge for human live dissection and experimentation during the war became the head of the top medical institute in Tokyo and was never bothered except for a moment by the Chinese woman who recognized him, anything can happen. Unit 731, Masaji Kitano and Green Cross all over again. Kansai, with Nuclear Ginza, you invested in a future treasure trove for your biotech and pharmaceutical industry (sic) ! Just as some people do not get black humor, let us note here that we are being sarcastic and we do not wish this nightmarish scenario to happen, quite the contrary but we are at a loss as to how prevent it. Japan has yet to come to term with its dark past and its present shows that it is never far behind – humor is a way to get some relief in the terrible situation we are now, and black humor can be offensive. Current Japanese politics are just as offensive.

So it could be for real and it would be the least damaging, as the alternative would be to wait until the next great Fukui earthquake and a fireworks over Nuclear Ginza.

Another possibility is that Hashimoto does not really intend to denuclearize Kansai, but is only trying to gain more KEPCO shares, some financial compensation or a special investor status from KEPCO for Osaka city in exchange for a time extension, a percentage increase in nuclear-produced electricity or such compromise.

Whichever, the pain only begins.

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Mainichi Shimbun reported further issues at Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Kyushu. The water leaks follow those at Mihama and Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant last week and a fire yesterday at Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant (read about it in Fire And Water At Japanese Nuclear Power Plants on Survival Japan). Previous update is available here. It mentioned that there hadn’t been any radioactive material leak, which of course was inexact (although KEPCO tries hard to prove there is no causal link between the leaks and the radiation surge) – incidentally JAPC declared the same regarding Tsuruga today.

About Genkai, claims by the local government that radiation levels ″sometimes rises under natural conditions such as rain″ might be half-truths as radioactive rains are not natural conditions, but it is irrelevant nonetheless in the current nuclear power plant leak context. Besides, ″the usual range of 433 to 472 cpm″ is not harmless – it is about 10 times readings I measured elsewhere in Japan (Cf. Geiger Counter Case Study: Inspector Alert on SurvivalJapan – although results in the post are given in uS/h, in fact 40 cpm was a typical value).

Nuclear power plants in “normal operation” in the US leak a ″little″ amount of radioactivity which operators must report to the NRC. Japanese nuclear power plants are similar although I am not aware of any such reporting in Japan.

Mainichi Shimbun – Radiation rose slightly afterwater leak at Genkai plant

SAGA, Japan (Kyodo) — A radiation reading at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture rose slightly above the usual range after coolant water leaked there Friday, the prefectural government said Sunday.

The reading at an outlet for seawater cooling the No. 3 reactor’s secondary cooling system was 473 counts per minute at 3 p.m. Friday, against the usual range of 433 to 472 cpm, not high enough to immediately impact human health, it said.

On Friday morning, 1.8 tons of primary coolant water containing radioactive materials leaked within the reactor’s purification system. The utility claimed the radiation reading is unrelated to that leak and said it will investigate the cause.

Water used in treating low-level radioactive waste is sometimes discharged from the outlet, but that was not the case Friday, the local government said, adding the reading sometimes rises under natural conditions such as rain.

(Mainichi Japan) December 12, 2011

Original article may still be available at this link.

Further updates with “not so slight levels” or such as “Yukio Edano ordered the last Genkai reactor to shut down” for instance are foreseeable.

This post is a first December update following the Nuclear Incident in Kyushu November Update on SurvivalJapan. Genkai nuclear plant reactor no. 4 in Kyushu was restarted a month ago after a serious incident and is schedule to be stopped again this month for periodic inspection. Mainichi Shimbun newspaper wrote on November 18th (full article in our November update) that: “Kyushu Electric should not be allowed to resume operation of the No. 2 and 3 reactors, currently idled for regular checks, at its nuclear plant in the town of Genkai in Saga Prefecture “in view of its current governance,” Edano told the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors.” As for no. 1, the article mentioned that: “Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano said Thursday the government will not allow Kyushu Electric Power Co. to restart two nuclear reactors at its Genkai power plant amid a scandal involving an attempt by the utility to misrepresent public opinion regarding the restart.” Today, NHK World announced that it was shut down, as can be read in the reproduced article below:

Genkai nuclear reactor 1 halted

Kyushu Electric Power Company has halted the No.1 reactor at the Genkai nuclear power plant in southwestern Japan. This means more than 80 percent of the nation’s reactors are now offline. It remains unclear when or if any of them will be restarted.

Shortly before noon on Thursday, workers at the Genkai plant began suppressing nuclear fission to reduce output at the reactor. The unit stopped operations at around 8:30 PM.

As a result, the No.4 reactor at the Genkai plant is the only one active in the Kyushu region.

Kyushu Electric plans to ask households and firms in its service area to use around 5 percent less electricity from December 26th, when the No.4 reactor is scheduled to be halted.
In mid-month Kansai Electric Power Company also plans to suspend the No.2 reactor at the Ohi plant and the No.2 reactor at the Mihama plant, both in Fukui Prefecture. These moves will leave the Kansai region with only one reactor online.

Kansai Electric plans to urge people to use around 10 percent less electricity from December 19th.

Of the country’s 54 reactors, the Genkai No.1 reactor is the 45th to go offline. There are no prospects for restarting the idle reactors as none of them has yet to meet the requirements for resuming operations.

These preconditions include passing the state’s safety stress tests and getting approval from local governments hosting the nuclear plants.

NHK World – Friday, December 02, 2011 07:47 +0900 (JST)

Hereafter is a screenshot for the NHK World video with active and inactive reactors in Japan. Genkai is indicated by the red box, reactor no. 4 is the only one left active for the island, until it shuts down for maintenance later this month. Given the unethical and unprofessional ways it was restarted a month ago, it could remain offline thereafter if Edano decides so. However, there might simply be a behind the scenes struggle to make Kyushu accept nuclear waste that his colleague Hosono keeps trying to sell nationwide. (more…)

This post follows up Nuclear Incident in Kyushu published last month on SurvivalJapan. Genkai nuclear plant reactor no. 4 was restarted on November 1st against the local population’s will and without any detailed public report regarding the incident. According to the Japan Times, “The reactor shut down automatically Oct. 4 due to an abnormality in its steam condenser that emerged after repairs were carried out using a faulty manual.” Kyushu Electric Power (KEPCO) simply changed the manual and got approval from the Central Government which found it “largely appropriate” as reported by Asahi Shimbun on November 2nd (read below). In their article on November 1st, the expression reported was “largely acceptable”, any of these leaving a taste of less than diligency and professionalism in a critical system such a nuclear plant, especially in the post-Fukushima context.

Genkai Mayor seemed surprised by the move as he declared that “We thought the reactor would be inspected without a resumption of operations. This is something we did not expect.” in the same article. However, he chose not to oppose the Central Government. Saga prefecture governor, who was involved in the scandal by KEPCO which was caught manipulating the public opinion in order to restart the plant operations, agreed with the decision. KEPCO president, who was directly behind the fraudulent scheme, did not resign and suffered only a minor salary cut. Eventually, the plant restarted producing nuclear power anyway, which shows that for the Japanese nuclear industry, not only it is acceptable to deceive and manipulate the public opinion, if you get caught red-handed, it does not matter as you can still impose your decision in the end with blessings from local politicians. On the technical side, KEPCO claims that the incident was due to human factor, yet it was the second time this particular type of issue had occured at that very plant.

Saga Governor Yasushi Furukawa gives a news conference on July 30 to explain the part he played in a campaign by Kyushu Electric Power Co. to orchestrate e-mail messages in favor of nuclear power. (Haruki Morishita)

Saga Governor Yasushi Furukawa gives a news conference on July 30 to explain the part he played in a campaign by Kyushu Electric Power Co. to orchestrate e-mail messages in favor of nuclear power. (Haruki Morishita)

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Kyodo News reported today that a Genkai nuclear power plant reactor in Saga prefecture, Kyushu, was stopped due to an “abnormality”.

This coincides with a post on Fukushima Diary blog where radioiodine level in dehydrated sludge of Nagasaki city central sewage treatment plant (中部下水処理場) was reported much higher than in no man’s land Miyagi last month :

1) in Miyagi

  • 42 Bq/kg – 8/9/2011
  • 41 Bq/kg – 9/6/2011

2) In Nagasaki

  • 563 Bq/kg – 8/4/2011
  • 151 Bq/kg – 8/11/2011
  • 44 Bq/kg – 8/22/2011

Radioiodine disappears quickly so this comes from “fresh” nuclear reactions (half-life is about 8 days).

Of course, Kyushu Electric Power denied any radiation leak in the Kyodo article.

Genkai nuclear power plant is located near an island named Fukushima (sic) and the readings for Nagasaki city above are from about 60 km away as can be seen on the map of Kyushu below (Kyushu is the large southern island in our monitored land). The letter ‘A’ marker in purple locates Genkai and the red one Nagasaki city. (more…)

Various blogs reported that French ambassador Philippe Faure left Japan this month. France was among the first country to advise expats to quickly leave Japan in March 2011 when the situation was not really critical in Tokyo, provoking mass hysteria in the French community. As reported in SurvivalJapan, it now is critical in Tokyo and the outlook for the whole of Japan is negative essentially due to dangerous policies. French Embassy website recommendations towards the French community repeats the same message as the Japanese government, i.e. all Japan is safe but Fukushima – meanwhile the ambassador left the country. French Embassy therefore joined German Embassy in its officials fleeing Japan (Cf. Nuclear Crisis Causes Vacant Posts at German Embassy in SurvivalJapan). It is rumored that Yukio Edano, chief Cabinet secretary in the previous administration and responsible for the nuclear crisis mismanagement before becoming the current Minister of Economy, had sent his family to safety in Singapore since March 11, but would sue anyone supporting this rumor. US ambassador John Roos still holds his position in Tokyo so far.