A glance at stories involving nuclear energy and Fukushima Prefecture:
- A court ruling last week canceling central government approval for the operation of two reactors at the Oi nuclear plant has stunned the nuclear power industry. The first-of-its-kind decision, attributed to flawed calculations for standards involving earthquake safety, is likely to be appealed and could still be overturned. But the result has resurrected fundamental questions about nuclear power safety and the future role of the energy source, Eric Johnston reports.
- And while the Oi reactors failed to pass muster, a plant under construction in northeastern Japan to produce plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel — a major component of the country’s stalled nuclear fuel recycling process — formally cleared safety checks by regulators Wednesday, according to Kyodo. Regulators OK’d the process despite the lack of a concrete plan for the usage of MOX fuel going forward.
- Nearly a decade (can you believe it?!) after the three meltdowns at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, plans are underway to finally remove nuclear fuel debris from the three reactors. But in order to remove it, there needs to be a place to store the debris. This is thought to be the reason why the government is rushing to greenlight releasing tritium-laced water piling up at the plant into the Pacific — to give room for debris storage — a crucial step in the decommissioning process and an enormous task on its own, the Fukushima Minpo reports in a deep dive into the issue.
- Speaking of Fukushima … a recent survey found that some 65% of the people who evacuated from the prefecture after the March 2011 nuclear disaster have no intention of returning. Although the survey, conducted by a research facility at Kwansei Gakuin University, received responses from just 522 of 4,876 people to whom questionnaires were sent, it provided a rare insight into how former residents view the reconstruction of their former home since the prefectural government has not conducted such polls in recent years.
- But despite the apparent lack of interest among evacuees in returning, a group of young Taiwanese people is working to spread information about progress in the prefecture’s reconstruction, with members making a six-day tour of the prefecture last month, Jiji reports. “We hope accurate information is known to many people,” a member said, adding that the group will disseminate such information through social media.