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Pipe checks at Japan’s nuclear control rooms conducted without removing insulation via the Japan Times

The vast majority of Japan’s 42 viable commercial nuclear reactors have not had detailed checkups performed on the air conditioning and ventilation systems of their central control rooms, it has been learned.

According to Japan Atomic Power Co. and nine utilities that manage nuclear power plants, the checkups — conducted at only two of the plants so far — are carried out without removing the insulation on the pipes.

Last month, Chugoku Electric Power Co. found extensive corrosion and holes, including one measuring 30 cm by 100 cm, in the ventilation pipes of the No. 2 reactor at the Shimane nuclear plant in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture. It was the first time the utility had removed the covering on the pipes since the reactor booted up in 1989.

Concluding the pipes were not functioning properly, Chugoku Electric reported the degradation to the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

[…]

Following the discovery of the pipe degradation at the Shimane No. 2 reactor, the NRA plans to check conditions at all of the nation’s nuclear plants, sources said.

Hokuriku Electric Power Co. detected rust in the ventilation pipes of the No. 1 reactor at its Shika nuclear plant in Ishikawa Prefecture in 2003. After removing the covers and conducting further inspections, the company replaced the equipment in 2008.

The NRA suspects that the pipe corrosion at the Shimane No. 2 reactor may violate nuclear regulatory standards, an official said.

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原発40基、詳細点検せず=配管腐食、再稼働の川内・伊方も-電力各社 via Jiji.com

運転中や運転可能な全国の商用原発42基のうち40基で、重要設備である中央制御室の空調換気配管の詳細な点検が行われていなかったことが14日、原発を保有する電力9社と日本原子力発電への取材で分かった。中国電力島根原発2号機(松江市)の換気配管では腐食による穴が多数見つかっており、事故が起きた場合に機能を維持できない恐れがある。

中国電は昨年12月、運転開始後初めて島根2号機で配管に巻かれた保温材を外し、腐食や穴を発見。必要な機能を満たしていないと判断し、原子力規制委員会に報告した。再稼働した九州電力川内原発1、2号機(鹿児島県)や関西電力高浜原発3、4号機(福井県)、四国電力伊方原発3号機(愛媛県)の点検でも保温材を外していない。点検方法は各社の判断に委ねられており、規制委は全国の原発の実態を確認する。

(略)

規制委は島根2号機で見つかった腐食について「規制基準に抵触する可能性がある」とみている。中国電は「海に近いため塩分を含んだ空気が配管に流れ込み、腐食が進んだ可能性がある」と説明している。
日本の原発は発電用タービンを回した蒸気を海水で冷却し循環させるため、海辺に立地している。

全文は原発40基、詳細点検せず=配管腐食、再稼働の川内・伊方も-電力各社 

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【岩手日報 社説】 原発立地の首長選 熱い論戦と住民の声発信を期待via 47トピックス

東日本大震災での東京電力福島第1原発事故後、原発立地自治体の首長選が注目を集めている。選挙結果が再稼働などに影響を与えるからだ。

あす投開票が行われる青森県大間町長選には現職と3新人が立候補し、舌戦を展開している。同町では電源開発(Jパワー)が大間原発の建設を進める。プルトニウム・ウラン混合酸化物(MOX)燃料を用いるプルサーマル方式で、しかも全炉心で使う世界初の「フルMOX」と、注目度の高い原発だ。

選挙戦は、原発推進を強調する現職、「脱依存」を訴えつつ容認姿勢の元町職員の争いが軸。残りの2人は反原発の立場で、このうち1人は元函館市議。海峡を挟んで対岸にある同市は、大間原発の建設差し止めを求め訴訟を起こしている。

マグロで知られる町だが、漁業以外の産業に乏しいことから原発を誘致。町は電源立地地域対策交付金など多額の原発関連歳入により、公共施設整備を充実させてきた。

ただ、福島事故の影響で一時工事が中断。現在も原子力規制委員会の新規制基準適合性審査が長引き、本体工事が進んでいない。交付金も減少。このため、このまま原発に依存すべきかどうか住民の間に揺らぎも見られる。

このような中、過去3回無投票だった町長選が16年ぶりの選挙戦となり、選択肢が与えられたことに「原発に対する考えをぶつけることができる」という声が聞かれる。

原発のない本県と異なり、青森県は下北半島に原子力関連施設が多く立地。過去には関係自治体で激しい選挙戦も展開された。

[…]

 

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U.S. lists 17 nuclear reactors with parts from forge under probe via Reuters

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Tuesday unveiled a letter showing that 17 of the country’s nuclear reactors have parts from Areva SA’s Le Creusot forge in France, which is under investigation for allegedly falsifying documents on the quality of its parts.

The number of reactors was more than the nine the NRC had previously disclosed.

Last month authorities in France opened an investigation into decades of alleged forgery of documents relating to the quality of parts produced at Le Creusot and used in power plants around the world.

Areva, a nuclear and renewable energy firm, furnished the information to the U.S. regulator last month but had urged the agency to keep it private, saying it was material to the business of nuclear power generators. The NRC told Areva it did not consider the information to be so and released it 10 days after receiving it.

The parts at reactors include a reactor head at Xcel Energy Inc’s Prairie Island reactor in Minnesota, reactor vessel heads at two of Dominion Resources Inc’s reactors at the North Anna plant in Virginia, and another vessel head at Dominion’s reactor in Surry, Virginia. Some of the components were made by other companies but include parts from the Le Creusot.

“We have four components with forgings from Le Creusot and have verified that all are fine. They all check out and meet our design criteria and there are no problems,” said Richard Zuercher, nuclear spokesman at Dominion Resources Inc.

[…]

David Lochbaum, an expert on nuclear energy at the Union of Concerned scientists, said the Le Creusot issue was “troubling from both trust and public safety perspectives” because to a large degree both the NRC and U.S. nuclear power plants depended on vendors to certify their work.

 

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原発自主避難 家賃の壁 首都圏優先枠 応募・入居25% via 東京新聞

東京電力福島第一原発事故で避難区域外から避難を余儀なくされた「自主避難者」に対する住宅無償提供が、今春で打ち切りとなる。その後の受け皿として、優先入居できる住宅が首都圏で計八百六戸募集されたが、応募や入居は25%の二百五件と低調だ。今後は家賃が必要になり、転居費用もかかる上、厳しい入居要件の壁で断念するケースも相次いでいる。 (中山高志)

 福島県によると、一都六県の打ち切り対象は二千百八十七戸。原則的に三月末で退去を求められる。

 自主避難者の受け皿として、首都圏の自治体が用意したのが公営住宅。東京都と神奈川、埼玉両県が計五百二十六戸を設けたほか、福島県は神奈川、埼玉、茨城各県内の雇用促進住宅に計二百八十戸を設けた。

 しかし各自治体によると十二日現在、都営住宅の三百戸に対し、入居予定が百六十六件にとどまるなど、すべての自治体で応募が低調=表参照。神奈川など三県内の雇用促進住宅では応募が一桁だ。

(略)

福島県が自主避難した六千世帯を対象に行った調査で、意見が最も多かったのは住宅確保だった。日本弁護士連合会災害復興支援委員長の津久井進弁護士は「住宅支援のニーズがあるのは明らか」と指摘。「転居を伴い、家賃負担も発生する今のやり方だけでは、避難者の実態に見合っているとは言えない。国や自治体は、生活事情に寄り添った支援策を打ち出す必要がある」と話している。

◆家族要件も厳しく一家バラバラ

 福島県から都営住宅に自主避難する五十歳代の女性の元に昨秋、退去を求める文書が都から届いた。「丁寧に書かれているが、すごく残酷に見えた。結局は出ていけということよね」。新たに都営住宅の優先枠に申し込もうとしたが、家族構成が入居要件を満たしていないため、同居の四人がバラバラになってしまう。

 家族は二十歳代の長女、都立高校生の三男、孫にあたる長女の息子。しかし「ひとり親で、同居は二十歳未満の子のみ」との要件が設けられ、家族構成が合わない。結局、長女と孫しか入居が認められなかった。

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Solar power to rise from nuclear ashes via Solar Power Network

Chinese companies plan to spend $1 billion over the next two years building a giant solar farm on land contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

LONDON, 12 January, 2017 – It was the worst nuclear accident in history, directly causing the deaths of 50 people, with at least an additional 4,000 fatalities believed to be caused by exposure to radiation.

The 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine also resulted in vast areas of land being contaminated by nuclear fallout, with a 30-kilometre exclusion zone, which encompassed the town of Pripyat, being declared in the area round the facility.

Solar power plant

Now two companies from China plan to build a one-gigawatt solar power plant on 2,500 hectares of land in the exclusion zone to the south of the Chernobyl plant.

[…]

Radiation that escaped as a result of the explosion at Chernobyl reached as far away as the mountains and hills of Wales in the UK, and a substantial portion of the radioactive dust released fell on farmlands in Belarus, north of Ukraine.

Till now the exclusion zone, including the town of Pripyat, has been out of bounds for most people, with only limited farming activity permitted on lands that are still regarded as contaminated.

Many former residents of the area are allowed back only once or twice a year for visits – to their old homes or to tend their relatives’ graves. However, a growing number of tourists have been visiting the Chernobyl area recently.

There has also been renewed interest in Chernobyl due to recent major engineering work at the plant, with a new steel-clad sarcophagus – described as the largest movable land-based structure ever built – being wheeled into position over much of the structure, to prevent any further leaks of radiation.

As yet, neither the Ukrainians nor the Chinese have disclosed the safety measures that will be adopted during the construction of the solar plant.

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Renewable Energy Giant Solar Farm to Rise From Chernobyl’s Nuclear Ashes via Total Croatia News

European Commission has approved the construction of new nuclear reactors just 150 kilometres from Osijek.

The agreement with Russia which should build the Paks II nuclear power plant does not violate European laws on public procurement and therefore the European Commission decided to abandon proceedings against Hungary, since it was not obliged to publish a tender for the construction of the power plant., reports Vacernji List on January 14, 2017.

The new section of the plant will be located 120 kilometres from Osijek, and it is planned that the reactors will use Russian technology. According to media reports, Russia plans to build two new 1,200 MW plants, hopefull with a more advanced technology than the one used at Chernobyl. Since the plant will use Russian fuel, the project will have long term effects on the independence of the European energy markets.

Croatian Commission for Cross-Border Assessment of Environmental Impact at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy is concerned about radioactive waste which is planned to be stored in Russia.

[…]

A serious incident happened on 10 April 2003 at one of the reactors. The incident occurred in the fuel rod cleaning system. The discharge of radioactive gases through the stack continued for several days after the incident, although the Hungarian Atomic Energy Agency determined that the radiation levels adjacent to the plant were only about 10 percent above normal. However, the reactor remained out of service for over a year.

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Tepco to remain a ward of the state for at least 3 more years via Nikkei Asian Review

TOKYO — Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings will likely remain under government control for at least three more years as cleanup costs for a 2011 nuclear meltdown continue to weigh on the Fukushima plant operator’s finances.

[…]

The state injected 1 trillion yen ($8.78 billion) into the utility back in July 2012 via the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp., taking a 50.1% stake.

Cleanup costs for the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown of March 2011 stand in the way of Tepco’s road to recovery. The figure has doubled from three years ago to 21.5 trillion yen. And the 8 trillion yen in decommissioning costs included in this estimate could rise even more.

Tepco plans to consolidate and merge nuclear and power distribution operations with other companies. But how much of a boost these steps could offer is unclear.

In addition, prospects for resuming operations at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture have faded amid pushback from new Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama.

Costly Fukushima cleanup continues to dog the Japanese utility

The government has planned to apply the proceeds from unloading Tepco shares toward funding cleanup work. The longer the current arrangement continues, the longer this profit will take to generate.

Japan’s retail market for electricity is now fully deregulated. Healthy competition could be hampered by the presence of a government-owned juggernaut. The utility must work quickly to boost its earnings potential.

 

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Uranium looms as big winner among resources under Trump via the Financial Times

Donald Trump’s upcoming presidency has led many investors to size up oil, coal and gold trades that could benefit from the sweeping changes he has promised.

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But a growing band of specialist commodity traders think investors may be overlooking the one raw material in line for bigger price gains than others when the US president-elect takes office: uranium. While interest in the key fuel for nuclear power and weapons may strike investors as somewhat macabre, a six-year downturn in the uranium market has convinced some that any indication of stronger demand could drive prices significantly higher. Mr Trump has voiced support for nuclear energy and has indicated he could expand the US’s nuclear arsenal, threatening to reverse a decades-long push towards non-proliferation and arms reduction. “Uranium traders have lots of oil envy,” says Roy Adams, who set up and ran uranium trading desks at Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers. “We think uranium — not crude oil — is unquestionably the most geopolitically sensitive commodity in the world.”

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The uranium market has been in a state of near collapse since 2011 when the Fukushima disaster upended demand projections for the fuel as Japan and other countries such as Germany shuttered operations or cancelled new projects.

[…]

 

 

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市民と対話重ねて慎重に 台湾の脱原発 via 信濃新聞

[…]

台湾の選択を歓迎したい。想定外の事態で原発が暴走すれば、止めるのは容易ではない。放射線は国土を汚染し、将来世代に影響を与える。東京電力福島第1原発の事故でも明らかだ。原発の安全神話はすでに崩壊している。

台湾の脱原発は福島原発の事故が理由だ。日本と同じ地震多発地域として市民の不安が高まり、反原発を訴えるデモが各地で相次いだ。当時の馬英九政権は世論を無視できなくなり、完成間近だった第4原発の建設を14年4月に凍結している。

昨年1月の総統選では、民主進歩党(民進党)の蔡英文主席が「非核家園(原発のない郷土)」を掲げて当選。8年ぶりの政権交代を実現した。蔡氏には脱原発以外の選択肢はなかったといえる。

脱原発はたやすい道ではない。

現在は原発の発電比率が約16%ある。計画では約4%の再生エネルギーを25年までに20%に引き上げ、原発の代替とする。

政府は台湾海峡の島を太陽光や風力発電の拠点とし、本島との間に海底送電線を敷いて電力を送る計画を進めている。技術的な課題や費用確保の問題があるほか、電気料金の値上がりも懸念される。

市民生活に影響が出れば、反発が出るかもしれない。政府は市民と対話と重ね、慎重に脱原発を進めてほしい。必要があれば日本も技術支援をしていくべきだ。

福島の事故以降、欧州ではドイツやスイス、イタリアなどが脱原発の方針を決めている。一方で新興国では、原発は経済効率が高いとして推進する潮流がある。

台湾の選択は新興国にも影響を与える可能性がある。安全性確保を徹底すれば建設コストがかかり、経済性にも疑問符がつく。発電後に出る核のごみ、高レベル放射性廃棄物の最終処分の問題にも直面することなる。

ベトナムは昨年11月、日本などの受注が決まっていた原発の建設計画を白紙撤回している。想定以上に建設コストが膨らみ、公的債務の増加がリスクになると判断した結果だった。

事故が起きた日本では国民の懸念にかかわらず、政府が原発再稼働の方針を続けている。安全性や経済性を改めて問う必要がある。

 

 

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