Tagged: Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster

Japan slashes climate reduction target amid nuclear shutdown

Japan slashes climate reduction target amid nuclear shutdown

Kansai Electric Power Co's Ohi nuclear power plant in Fukui prefecture, 26 January
Ohi’s reactor 4, Japan’s last functioning reactor, went offline in September

Japan is to significantly slash its greenhouse gas reduction target in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

It will now aim to achieve a 2020 target of 3.8% below 2005 levels.

This replaces a previous commitment to reduce emissions by 25% from 1990 levels.

The moves come with all of Japan’s nuclear power plants currently offline – forcing the country to increase its burning of fossil fuels.

The move was announced in Tokyo by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. The new target represents a 3% rise over 1990s emissions levels, a comprehensive turnaround from the 25% reduction target.

But Mr Suga said the previous target – set under a government led by the now-opposition Democratic Party – had been “totally unfounded”.

“Our government has been saying… that the 25% reduction target was totally unfounded and wasn’t feasible,” he said.

‘Less ambition’

Speaking at UN climate change talks in Warsaw, Japan’s chief negotiator said the move was based on new circumstances.

“The new target is based on zero nuclear power in the future. We have to lower our ambition level,” said Hiroshi Minami.

Acknowledging the move would attract criticism, he said the target could be adjusted if the nuclear situation changed.

Prior to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Japan generated more than a quarter of its power from nuclear energy.

But since the disaster, its 50 reactors have been mostly idled for safety checks or scheduled maintenance, amid a public backlash against nuclear energy.

Japan’s last operating nuclear reactor, at Ohi, was turned off in September and analysts say the country will be without nuclear power until December at the earliest.

So far, power companies have applied to restart about a dozen of the reactors but this will take time because of safety checks and legal hurdles.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to see the reactors back on line, as they are a vital part of his plan to turn the economy around.

Since the Fukushima disaster, Japan has been forced to import huge amounts of coal, liquid natural gas and other fuels.

Source: BBC  News 

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All systems ready for Fukushima fuel removal

All systems ready for Fukushima fuel removal

Engineers at Fukushima Daiichi have done final checks before they begin removing fuel from unit 4’s storage pond, the highest priority safety-related task in the site’s decommissioning.

Checks within Fukushima Daiichi 4 cover, November 2013 (Tepco) 460x306

Technicians within the new building cover. The empty reactor vessel is beneath the circular section, the rectangular part is the used fuel pool (Image: Tepco)

A fuel transport container will be placed in the pool using the main crane. Workers will then use the smaller refuelling crane to move fuel assemblies one by one from their vertical storage racks to the container. When this is full it will be sealed, lifted from the water by the main crane, placed on the service floor for decontamination and then taken through a special route to a vehicle that will move it across the site to be unloaded at the site’s shared storage facility. This process will be repeated until the pool is empty.

With a total of 1533 fuel assemblies in the pool (1331 used, 202 unused) this is expected to take until the end of 2014. Tepco will move the fuel during the day and clean dust and debris from the pool water during the night. Two containers will be used in relay.

Fuel transport container at Fukushima Daiichi 4, November 2013 (Tepco) 460x306

The Nuclear Regulatory Authority granted its approval for the security and radiological protection aspects of the work yesterday, and Tepco engineers conducted final functional checks of the cranes using non-radioactive dummy fuel today. One more round of feedback from local people is required before the operations begin, perhaps as soon as next week.

One of the fuel containers pictured during training tests (Inage: Tepco)
Checking a crane at Fukushima Daiichi 4, November 2013 (Tepco) 460x306
Inspecting the controls of newly-installed cranes (Image: Tepco)

Unit 4 was off line for maintenance at the time of the 2011 accident with its full core load of fuel, as well as used fuel from previous operation, stored in a fuel pool at the top of the reactor building. Although this meant there was no possibility of a reactor accident at unit 4, there was a risk of the pool overheating. The stability of the pool was then reduced by major structural damage to the building caused by the ignition of hydrogen that leaked through ventilation systems shared with unit 3.

The building has since been reinforced, and thousands of tonnes of debris and rubble have been removed from its roof. The new cover has been constructed with all the fuel handling equipment of a normal nuclear power plant and inspections of the pool have shown the fuel to be undamaged and not suffering from corrosion.

Source: World Nuclear News

Japanese nuclear area cleared of contaminated turf with British supplied machines

Japanese nuclear area cleared of contaminated turf with British supplied machines

British company Campey Turfcare Systems has supplied machines to assist in the decontamination of grass and soil in and around 53 Japanese cities affected by the devastated Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

Koro FieldTopMaker clears contamination

The Koro Field Top Maker (FTM) from global machinery distributor Campeys, based in Macclesfield, Cheshire, and has been approved by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment as the preferred product to remove contaminated turf from radioactive areas near the nuclear plant.

Read the full press release here http://www.sourcewire.com/news/79256/japanese-nuclear-disaster-area-cleared-of-contaminated-turf-with-british-supplied?

Source: www.Sourcewire.com

Fukushima nuclear plant: Radioactive water leak found

Fukushima nuclear plant: Radioactive water leak found

Aerial photo taken on 9 July 2013 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan
(The tsunami knocked out cooling systems to the reactors at Fukushima)

Radioactive water has leaked from a storage tank into the ground at Japan’s Fukushima plant, its operator says.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said the leak of at least 300 tonnes of the highly radioactive water was discovered on Monday.

The plant, crippled by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, has seen a series of water leaks and power failures.

The tsunami knocked out cooling systems to the reactors, three of which melted down.

An employee discovered the leak on Monday morning, Tepco said in a statement.

Officials described the leak as a level-one incident – the lowest level – on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (Ines), which measures nuclear events.

This is the first time that Japan has declared such an event since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, however.

Under the Ines, events have seven levels starting with Level 0 (“without safety significance”), and Levels 1-3 denoting “incidents” and Levels 4-7 denoting “accidents”.

A puddle of the contaminated water was emitting 100 millisieverts an hour of radiation, Kyodo news agency said.

Masayuki Ono, general manager of Tepco, told Reuters news agency: “One hundred millisieverts per hour is equivalent to the limit for accumulated exposure over five years for nuclear workers; so it can be said that we found a radiation level strong enough to give someone a five-year dose of radiation within one hour.”

More monitoring

A Tepco official told a press conference on Tuesday that the water probably leaked from a tank after escaping a concrete barrier.

Workers were pumping out the puddle and the remaining water in the tank and would be transferring it to other containers, Kyodo added.

Water is being pumped into the reactors, after cooling systems were knocked out by the tsunami.

Hundreds of tanks were built to store the contaminated water. Some of them had experienced similar leaks since 2012, but not on this scale, a Tepco official said.

Tepco had been instructed to retrieve contaminated soil and to strengthen monitoring of the surrounding environment, a regulatory official told Agence-France Presse news agency.

No major changes in radiation levels outside the plant had been observed so far, the official added.

The incident comes days after Tepco admitted that as much as 300 tonnes of contaminated water a day was leaking from the damaged reactor buildings to the sea.

Source: BBC News

Fukushima radioactive water leak an ’emergency’

Fukushima radioactive water leak an ’emergency’

Aerial photo taken on 9 July 2013 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuyama, Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan
(The crippled Fukushima plant has suffered water leaks and power cuts in recent months)

Japan’s nuclear watchdog has said the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is facing a new “emergency” caused by a build-up of radioactive groundwater.

A barrier built to contain the water has already been breached, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority warned.

This means the amount of contaminated water seeping into the Pacific Ocean could accelerate rapidly, it said.

There has been spate of water leaks and power failures at the plant, devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), has been criticised heavily for its lack of transparency over the leaks.

‘Weak sense of crisis’

Tepco admitted for the first time last month that radioactive groundwater had breached an underground barrier and been leaking into the sea, but said it was taking steps to prevent it.

However, the head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority task force, Shinji Kinjo, told the Reuters news agency on Monday that the countermeasures were only a temporary solution.

Tepco’s “sense of crisis is weak,” Mr Kinjo said. “This is why you can’t just leave it up to Tepco alone”

“Right now, we have an emergency,” he added.

If the underground barrier is breached, the watchdog warns, the water could start to seep through shallower areas of earth.

Once it reaches the surface, it could start to flow “extremely fast”, says Mr Kinjo.

Contaminated water could rise to the ground’s surface within three weeks, the Asahi newspaper predicted on Saturday.

The contaminated water is thought to have come from the 400 tonnes of groundwater pumped into the plant every day to cool the reactors.

Tepco ‘in trouble’

Tepco admitted on Friday that a cumulative 20 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium may have leaked into the sea since the disaster.

It has been clear for months now that the operators of the Fukushima plant are in deep trouble, says the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes.

The only course of action, he continues, is to pump water out. But this has to be stored, and more than 1,000 giant holding tanks surrounding the plant are nearly all full, he adds.

Tepco said on Monday it plans to start pumping out a further 100 tonnes of groundwater a day.

 Source: BBC News

Fukushima nuclear plant: Japan takes steps over sea leak

Fukushima nuclear plant: Japan takes steps over sea leak

Aerial photo taken on 9 July 2013 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuyama, Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan

Japan says it is taking steps to prevent contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant leaking into the sea.

The plant’s operator recently admitted for the first time that radioactive water was still going into the sea.

A government spokesman said the authorities had taken immediate action.

Workers were asked to act promptly to stop the leak as steam was seen rising from one of the reactor buildings for the second time in a week.

On Tuesday, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said steam was seen around the fifth floor of the building housing Reactor No 3 shortly after 09:00 local time (00:00 GMT).

Workers were continuing with the ongoing operation to inject cooling water into the reactor and a pool storing nuclear fuel, it added.

It is not clear what is causing the steam, but levels of radiation around the reactor have not changed.

The sight of steam rising is worrying because it means somewhere inside the reactor building water is boiling, says the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo.

The badly damaged reactors are supposed to be in what is called “cold shutdown”; the temperature of the cooling water inside the reactor should be well below boiling point.

It is another sign that Tepco still does not fully know what is going on inside the damaged reactors, our correspondent adds.

Steam was last seen rising from a reactor building at the plant on 18 July.

The plant was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, which knocked out cooling systems to the reactors, three of which melted down.

Leak

On Monday, Tepco said the plant was likely to be leaking contaminated water into the sea, something that has been suspected for some time, but previously denied by the company.

Outside experts have long suspected that the damaged reactors are leaking water, because of the very high levels of radioactive caesium still being found in samples of fish taken near the plant.

“High readings of radiation were detected from the soil [ground] of the turbine building. We are very sorry for causing concerns to many people, and especially we deeply apologise to the people of Fukushima,” a company spokesman said.

Plant officials believe a leak is possible because the underground water levels in suspected areas fluctuate according to tide movements and rainfall, he added.

The Japanese government says it is taking the issue seriously.

“The ministry of trade, economy and industry was instructed to act promptly to prevent contaminated water from leaking to the ocean,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on Tuesday.

Since 2011, the plant has seen a series of water leaks and power failures.

Earlier this month, a sharp increase in radioactive caesium was detected in groundwater 25 metres (82ft) from the sea.

In June, radioactive water was also found to be leaking from a storage tank.

Experts say years of work lie ahead before the problems at the plant can be fully contained.

Source: BBC News

Fukushima nuclear plant: Steam seen at reactor building

Fukushima nuclear plant: Steam seen at reactor building

Aerial photo taken on 9 July 2013 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuyama, Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan
(The crippled Fukushima plant has faced waters leaks and power cuts in recent months)
Steam has been seen rising from a reactor building at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, its operator says.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said there was no emergency situation and there were no signs of increased radiation in the area.

It says it is investigating what is causing the steam at the damaged No 3 reactor building.

The plant, crippled by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, has seen a series of water leaks and power failures.

The tsunami knocked out cooling systems to the reactors, three of which melted down.

Water is being pumped into the reactors to cool them, but that has left Tepco with the problem of storing the contaminated waste water.

‘Monitor closely’

A worker first noticed the steam after reviewing camera footage taken of the building, Tepco said.

The operator said in a statement there was a “steam-like gas wafting through the air near the central part of the fifth floor [equipment storage pool side]” of the No 3 reactor building.

The reactor water injection and the cooling of the spent fuel pool were “continuing stably”, Tepco said. There were also no significant change in the temperature of the reactor.

“We will continue to monitor the status closely,” the statement added.

“We do not believe an emergency situation is breaking out although we are still investigating what caused this,” a spokesman told Agence-France Presse news agency.

Mayumi Yoshida, another Tepco spokesperson, told Reuters news agency: “We think it’s possible that rain made its way through the reactor building and having fallen on the primary containment vessel, which is hot, evaporated creating steam.”

This is the latest in a series of problems that the Fukushima power plant has faced in recent months.

Last week, a sharp increase in radioactive cesium was detected in groundwater 25m (82ft) from the sea.

In June, radioactive water was also found to be leaking from a storage tank.

Experts say years of work lie ahead before the problems at the plant can be fully contained.

Source: BBC News