TEPCO must regain public trust to ensure Fukushima’s steady recovery — The Yomiuri Shimbun

” To ensure the steady recovery of Fukushima, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s revised business plan must not be allowed to end up as pie in the sky.

TEPCO has compiled a new business plan. The utility has strengthened its steps to improve profitability to raise funds for costs including decommissioning reactors and compensation related to the March 2011 accident at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. This is the second time the plan has been revised.

The total cost of cleaning up the nuclear accident has ballooned from ¥11 trillion to ¥21.5 trillion. TEPCO will shoulder ¥16 trillion of this amount over about 30 years. The ¥300 billion TEPCO spent in fiscal 2016 on compensation and reactor decommissioning costs will be increased to ¥500 billion annually.

TEPCO must boost its “earning power” to secure sufficient capital to meet those costs. Restarting reactors at TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture will be essential for this. Each reactor brought back online will raise TEPCO’s earnings by ¥40 billion to ¥90 billion per year.

TEPCO is working to gradually restart all seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant from fiscal 2019. However, as things stand, high hurdles remain in its way. This is because even if a reactor passes safety screenings conducted by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, local government authorities also must agree to the reactors’ restart.

The recent revelation that TEPCO did not disclose data about the insufficient earthquake-resistance of the main quake-resistant building at the plant has further heightened local distrust of the utility. Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama is not budging from his cautious stance because he believes safety measures at the plant are insufficient. “At the moment, I can’t agree to the restart” of the reactors, Yoneyama said.

An expert panel of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry also had some stinging criticism for TEPCO, saying it “has not earned enough trust from the public.”

Transparency vital

On June 23, TEPCO will switch to a new leadership lineup when Hitachi, Ltd. Honorary Chairman Takashi Kawamura becomes TEPCO’s chairman. Kawamura will need to work hard to regain trust in TEPCO so restarting its reactors can become a reality.

Strengthening cooperation with other electric utilities and launching new operations, such as gas retailing, also will be effective in solidifying TEPCO’s revenue base. Another issue that needs to be addressed is the overseas development of its thermal power business, in which TEPCO is pursuing integration with Chubu Electric Power Co.

The new plan stipulates TEPCO will “prepare a basic framework for cooperation with other companies” by around fiscal 2020, keeping in mind the Higashidori nuclear plant TEPCO is constructing in Aomori Prefecture.

TEPCO is considering working with Tohoku Electric Power Co., which has a nuclear power plant in that region. If this tie-up comes to fruition, it will be useful for establishing a stable supply of electricity. TEPCO’s intentions on this issue are understandable.

Other utilities that could become partners with TEPCO during a realignment in the industry hold deep-rooted concerns that cooperating with TEPCO could result in the costs of dealing with the nuclear accident being shunted on to them. TEPCO must lay the groundwork to dispel such concerns.

TEPCO and the government will, as soon as this autumn, establish a forum at which they can listen to the opinions of other electric utilities on steps to reorganize nuclear power and electricity transmission businesses.

Profits will be distributed based on the capital contribution ratio in a joint venture. Other companies should not be forced to shoulder the costs of the Fukushima nuclear accident. Highly transparent rules such as these will need to be drawn up. ”

by The Yomiuri Shimbun

source

Advertisements

IAEA report on Fukushima slams lack of tsunami preparedness despite awareness of threat — The Japan Times

” VIENNA – The International Atomic Energy Agency criticized Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Japanese regulatory authorities for their failure to prevent the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster despite knowing the risk of large tsunami hitting the facility, according to a copy of an IAEA report.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog said in the final report on the nuclear disaster triggered by a huge earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, obtained Sunday, that “the Fukushima Daiichi (No. 1) NPP (nuclear power plant) had some weaknesses which were not fully evaluated by a probabilistic safety assessment, as recommended by the IAEA safety standards.”

The paper, compiled by around 180 experts from 42 countries, is set to be submitted to the IAEA’s annual meeting in September after its board examines the 240-page summary in June.

The report addressing the causes and consequences of the Fukushima disaster as well as lessons learned is expected to serve as a reference for nuclear safety measures worldwide.

The IAEA said a new approach applied between 2007 and 2009 postulated a magnitude-8.3 quake off the coast of Fukushima that could lead to tsunami of around 15 meters hitting the No. 1 plant and inundating the main buildings.

Despite the analysis, Tepco, the old Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which oversaw Japan’s nuclear industry at that time, and other organizations did not act, deciding instead that “further studies and investigations were needed.”

“Tepco did not take interim compensatory measures in response to these increased estimates of tsunami height, nor did NISA require Tepco to act promptly on these results,” the report says.

“Prior to the accident, there was not sufficient consideration of low probability, high consequence external events which remained undetected. This was in part because of the basic assumption in Japan, reinforced over many decades, that the robustness of the technical design of the nuclear plants would provide sufficient protection against postulated risks,” it says.

As a result, Tepco did not implement a sufficient safety assessment as recommended by the IAEA and lacked protection for the emergency diesel generators, battery rooms and other vital systems against tsunami-caused flooding, the paper adds.

“The operators were not fully prepared for the multiunit loss of power and the loss of cooling caused by the tsunami. Although Tepco had developed severe accident management guidelines, they did not cover such an unlikely combination of events,” the report says, also pointing to the lack of appropriate training for workers at the plant.

The IAEA called on countries that use, or plan to use, nuclear power to make continuous efforts to improve safety based on new findings and to be prepared to cope with natural disasters more severe than those predicted when nuclear power plants were designed. ”

source

EDITORIAL: Incompetent Tepco should never be allowed to handle nuclear energy — The Asahi Shimbun

” Has Tokyo Electric Power Co. learned nothing over the past two years and four months since the nuclear disaster started at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant?

We cannot help but ask this question in light of the utility’s appallingly shoddy handling of radioactive water that is leaking from the crippled plant into the sea. We must also note that the Nuclear Regulation Authority and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which are responsible for overseeing TEPCO’s operations, can hardly be said to be living up to their responsibilities. … ”

read article