Two more power companies to scrap aging nuclear reactors

Kyodo, JIJI

Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Chugoku Electric Power Co. decided Wednesday to decommission two aging reactors, following a similar move the previous day by the operators of two other nuclear power plants, amid safety concerns in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Kyushu Electric’s board decided to scrap the No. 1 reactor at the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture, and Chugoku Electric Power Co. decided to decommission the No. 1 reactor at the Shimane plant in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture.

A regulation brought in following the March 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant forbids nuclear reactors from operating for more than 40 years in principle, but they may be allowed to continue operating for another 20 years if the operators make safety upgrades and the unit passes the regulator’s screening.

Demolishing the five aging nuclear reactors would generate more than 20,000 cu. meters of radioactive waste, but no decision has been made on possible disposal sites.

The waste that needs to be buried underground would fill more than 100,000 barrels, said officials at the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy. Unless sites are chosen, the waste will need to be temporarily stored within nuclear power plant sites after the reactors are dismantled.

Operators of aging plants are facing a tough decision as huge amounts of additional investment are needed to meet the new safety requirements to keep reactors operating beyond 40 years.

On Tuesday, Kansai Electric Power Co. and Japan Atomic Power Co. decided to scrap a total of three old reactors.

Kansai Electric will decommission the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at its Mihama power plant. Japan Atomic Power Co. plans to decommission the No. 1 reactor at its Tsuruga power station. Both plants are in Fukui Prefecture.

According to the agency, low-level waste generated during demolition of the five reactors would total 21,788 cu. meters, based on estimates by the power firms as of the end of March 2014.

So-called L1 category items, the most radioactive, such as the control rods inserted into the fuel to halt criticality, must be buried at least 50 meters below ground. A total of 533 cu. meters of such waste is expected to be generated by the five reactors.

L2 category items, such as filters and waste liquid, would total 5,105 cu. meters. L3 category items, which are the least radioactive, would amount to 16,150 cu. meters, according to the estimates.

  • Here it comes out… This is the big lie about nuclear power generation that all the utilities and politicians have purposefully ignored and hidden for the past 60 years.
    Nobody has ever cleaned-up completely the site of a scrapped nuclear reactor and the utilities have never really put provisions aside for that part of the work.

    We have been living on the dream of a cheap energy, when in fact a big chunk of the cost has never been shown to customers: as a result, the younger generations will have to pay.

    That said, it looks a bit like the fossil energies: cheap right now, but someone will have to bear the cost (or the impacts) in a few decades.

    • douglas black

      Thus, the NUCLEAR HOAX…

      • Not sure it can be called a Hoax… it’s a very potent and efficient power generation method. But the decisions are not made with all the info on the table, unfortunately.

      • douglas black

        You are correct Antoine. But actually they were on the table, as many had voiced these misconceptions concerning turning them ‘off’: -not really ‘cheap’ and our futures unsolved human conundrum to safely dispose of all the waste.

  • Liars N. Fools

    This is about bad accounting and even worse accountability.

    The bad accounting is directly related by not including the cost of decommissioning, waste disposal and management, site remediation, and other factors into the total cost of nuclear facilities.

    The even worse accountability is not holding political leaders responsible for making really bad policy decisions. I do not know if Japanese should be happy that it was LDP governments who were part and parcel of the nuclear tribe 族 that got Japan into this mess and that it is an LDP government which is now faced with these problems. Will the Abe government be responsible?