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Massive earthquake hits Japan

Located in: Regulation and Safety

11 March 2011

Nuclear reactors shut down during today's massive earthquake in Japan. Work to stabilise three reactors at Fukushima Daiichi continues into the morning.


Reactors continue through earthquake

Located in: Industry Talk

09 March 2011

Nuclear power plants were barely affected by the Sanriku offshore earthquake that rocked Japan on 9 March at 11.45am. The earthquake measured 7.3 on the Richter scale and originated 160 kilometres offshore, some 8 kilometres underground. A tsunami warning was issued but in the end waves reached only 60cm high. Nuclear power plants on the Pacific coast that felt the quake include Onagawa, Higashidori and Fukushima Daini and Fukushima Daiichi. All the reactors at those plants operated as normal through the earthquake apart from two units that were already shut down for inspection. Diesel generators started automatically at Onagawa 2 on detection of the earthquake. Inspections at all the power plants found nothing unusual and operation continues.

Utilities apply for longer operation

Located in: Corporate

17 January 2011

Nuclear power companies in Japan are working to extend operational periods between mandatory inspections. Tepco and Tohoku are both applying to operate for 16 months between official checks.

Third Japanese reactor to load MOX

Located in: Industry Talk

10 August 2010

Tokyo Electric Power Company's (Tepco's) Fukushima I unit 3 is set to become the third Japanese nuclear reactor to load mixed oxide (MOX) fuel after receiving approval from the governor of Fukushima Prefecture, Yukei Sato. The unit follows Kyushu Electric's Genkai 3, which started using MOX fuel in November 2009, and Shikoku's Ikata 3, which was loaded with some MOX fuel in March 2010. According to the Denki Shimbun, the 760 MWe boiling water reactor will be loaded with MOX fuel by 21 August and the unit will restart in late September. Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has so far approved the use of MOX fuel in ten reactors, but utilities must also secure approval from prefectural governments before they can go ahead and use the fuel, which contains plutonium recovered from spent nuclear fuel.


Reactors operated normally through quake

Located in: Regulation and Safety

14 June 2008

Fukushima IUPDATED Four nuclear power plants, including 14 reactors, operated normally during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the prefecture of Iwate, northern Japan. A small amount of water was shaken pools at two of the reactors and a waste store.

New Japanese nuclear power reactors delayed

Located in: New Nuclear

26 March 2008

Tokyo Electric Power Co announced that the start of operation of four new nuclear power reactors would be delayed, while Electric Power Development Co said the start of construction of its Ohma plant had been postponed again.

Japan orders stricter checks at reactors

Located in: Regulation and Safety

20 April 2007

The Japanese government will order special inspections of some nuclear power plants after recent revelations of past safety lapses. Trade minister Akira Amari said that the special inspections could force utilities to shut nuclear power reactors in advance of scheduled closures for mandatory inspections.

Further Japanese revelations

Located in: Industry Talk

30 March 2007

[Asahi Shimbun, Kyodo, 30 March] Three further safety-related incidents have been uncovered in the Japanese Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry's purge of power operator's safety records. Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) admitted concealing an emergency shutdown of Fukushima 1 in 1984, and that in the late 1990s 34 of the unit's 137 control rods were dislodged by 15cm during an inspection. Workers corrected the rod positions immediately and there was no unintentional criticality. At that time, Tepco was not legally required to report the incident. In addition, Japan Atomic Power Company (Japco) admitted that a valve that compromised the airtight status of the continment vessel of Tsuruga 2 was hidden from inspectors before replacement two days later.

Tepco delays commissioning of reactors

Located in: Industry Talk

28 March 2007

[Bloomberg, 28 March] Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said that it would delay the completion of Units 7 and 8 at its Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant by one year after revealing a series of past safety lapses at its reactors. Commissioning of the two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) will now be scheduled for October 2013 and 2014. The company recently reported on several incidents in which control rods were dislodged, including one in 1978 which probably caused a criticality incident that could have lasted up to seven-and-a-half hours at Unit three of the Fukushima-1 plant. Tepco's president, Tsunehisa Katsumata apologized on 23 March saying, "We are very sorry for the incidents that deeply hurt public trust." He added, "We will work to restore confidence." The company announced the delays to the new reactors as part of a business plan released today.

Tepco reveals series of past incidents

Located in: Industry Talk

27 March 2007

[Japan Times, 21 and 23 March] Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) revealed that five dislodged control rods probably caused a criticality incident that could have lasted up to seven-and-a-half hours at Unit three of its Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant in 1978. An internal investigation by Tepco and the reactor's constructor, Toshiba Corp, revealed that five control rods were found to have slipped from their correct positions during a regular inspection. Akio Komori, department head of Tepco's nuclear power plant management unit, said "Judging from testimony and data still available, the possibility that the reactor reached a critical state is extremely high." Tepco also said the investigation revealed two further cases where a control rod dislodged from a reactor core at the Fukushima-1 plant: at Unit 5 in February 1979 and at Unit 2 in September 1980. In addition, Tepco said two control rods came off at Unit three of its Fukushima-2 plant in June 1993 and at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa-1 reactor in April 2000 during routine checks. Criticality did not occur in any of these other incidents. Tepco's admissions come after a series of other disclosures of past safety lapses to Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) as part of a purge of records intended to help transform corporate safety culture in all electric operating companies, nuclear and otherwise. The deadline for nuclear operators to make such disclosures is 31 March.

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