The head of Japan’s NRA is now claiming volcanologists that have raised concerns about the safety of the Sendai nuclear plant are wrong.
NHK pointed out these key quotes from the latest exchange:
“The utility had showed plans to remove nuclear fuel from the facility if it detects any signs of volcanic activity or tectonic plate movement around the plant.”
“the NRA chief said Ontake’s hydro volcanic eruption is unlike any huge volcanic eruption that may occur around the Sendai nuclear power plant. He says discussing them as the same type of event is not scientific. Tanaka said that before an enormous eruption, land movements and tremors appear much earlier than for the ongoing eruption of Mount Ontake.”
The idea of being able to remove all the nuclear fuel from Sendai once volcanic activity is detected is completely unrealistic as we explained here. It would take years and the rapid manufacture of hundreds of casks to do this. Japan also lacks anywhere to take all these fuel casks. TEPCO is currently dealing with this very issue at Daiichi where it has taken them a year to remove most of the spent fuel at unit 4. Fuel fresh out of the reactor core also must sit in a spent fuel pool for a number of years before it can be safe to cask and store in dry storage. The US Mt. St. Helens eruption only had a 2 month warning that the volcano was unstable. This is not enough time to empty an entire reactor and pool of fuel.
NRA’s solution does not fit with reality.
The potential for a restart at Sendai has been pushed back to at least January as safety documentation remains incomplete.
It isn’t just scientists that are calling into question the logic of Japan’s nuclear restarts. The former mayor of Tokai where a 1999 criticality accident killed two workers and exposed the local residents to radiation, is calling the restart plan ill advised. He stresses that Japan has not learned from both the Tokai and Fukushima nuclear accidents. Residents near Kagoshima protested outside Kyushu Power’s offices demanding a stop to the plan to restart Sendai.
At the same time Japan is trying to restart nuclear plants, claiming they need the energy capacity, power utilities have been refusing grid access for new renewable energy projects. Utilities claimed grid instability was the reason. No nuclear plants are currently online. The inability of nuclear plants to throttle their output quickly has been cited as a key reason for grid fluctuation problems. Only a few years ago Japan was claiming they didn’t have enough power to avoid blackouts. Now they reject power generation access to the grid.
If a reminder is needed why restarts are so ill advised, these Fukushima landowners are in negotiations with the government for what will likely be the permanent loss of their land and homes to become a nuclear waste storage site.
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